26 February, 2007

I Can't Drive 55

... and, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (PDF warning), we shouldn't really have to. (Leaving aside the fact that most freeways in the Denver Metro area have a speed limit of 65 rather than 55. Sheeesh, can't a guy have fun with his titles every so often without nitpickers?) Emphasis mine:
It is a popular misconception that reducing the speed limit will automatically slow the speed of traffic, while raising the speed limit will automatically cause an increase in the speed of traffic.

“Before and After” speed studies show that there are no significant changes in vehicle speeds after speed limits are changed. “Before and After” accident studies usually do not show any significant change in accident rates after speed limits are increased or decreased. National studies go further and say that “it is generally at the upper boundary of a speed range where crash involvement rates are lowest.”
Traffic investigations have shown that most people will drive the roadway as they perceive the conditions and will ignore a speed limit that is unrealistically too low or too high. A realistic speed limit is voluntarily obeyed by the reasonable majority and more enforcement effort can be applied to the unreasonable few who drive too fast or too slow.

An unrealistic speed limit with is too slow will:
  • A) Make the behavior of the majority unlawful;
  • B) If enforced - cause antagonism toward enforcement personnel and traffic laws in general;
  • C) Create a bad image of the community for visitors and tourists;
  • D) Result in speed differentials in the traffic flow.

An appropriate, “just right” speed limit will result in the maximum number of vehicles traveling at about the same speed, thus reducing conflicts caused by speed differentials.
The 85th percentile speed, that speed at or below which 85% of the traffic is moving, is widely accepted as being closest to that “just right” speed limit - a case of Majority Rule. Of course, other Traffic Investigation factors must be taken into consideration.
To just about anyone who has a heavy foot, unreasonable speed limits on interstates and open freeways have been bones of contention since the days when the interstate freeway system was still just a dream in old man Eisenhower's eyes. This becomes doubly true when almost everyone on a particular stretch of freeway is going a good degree faster than the posted speed limit. Speed limits just about everywhere as then degraded to the point where only police armed with radar/laser speed detectors actually care about how fast people are going.

This becomes a Very Bad Thing when you start talking about places where speed limits actually have sound public-safety reasoning behind them. School zones. Residential areas. Business districts. Other high pedestrian population areas. Those are the places where speed limits are firm necessities. Yet due to the barest of nods the population gives to speed limits in general, these needed limits are painted with, then blatantly ignored by, people wielding the same broad brush.

Even the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (another PDF warning, see page 88), as part of the Transporation Board of the National Academies, says that (Emphasis mine again.):
a review of available speed studies demonstrates that the 85th percentile speed is only used as a “starting point,” with the posted speed limit being almost always set below the 85th percentile value by as much as 8 to 12 mph.
And from an earlier bullet point:
Several studies have demonstrated that 85th percentile operating speeds typically exceed posted speeds. These studies also show that the 50th percentile operating speed either is near or exceeds the posted speed limit.
This is a bad thing. When you set the barrier of "What is legal?" well below the line of "What is normal/average?", you create a situation where people will continue to break the law due to their normal everyday behaviors. This does not change behavior like some of the supporters of lower-speed-limit laws would suggest, but instead creates the aforementioned resentment towards the law in any of its various guises.

Adjusting the posted speed limits, if only on interstates and open freeways, to the point where 85% of people are in compliance... That's a good thing. And the bureaucrats in CDOT deserve a pat on the back for recognizing it.

Will it end speeding? Doubtful. Especially doubtful for as long as I personally possess a legal driver's license. What it will do is keep my fellow lead-foots from the opinion that all speed limits are far too arbitrary and, therefore, all speed limits should be ignored. And ignoring laws is never a good thing when you live in a society based on the rule of law.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go borrow my friend's car. Might as well do what I can to raise the 85% mark a little bit higher, no?

[Turn Signal: Joshua Claybourn]

22 February, 2007

Almost Like Media Matters

So wrong... Yet so true.

Just about anyone who has had to explain anything technological to elderly relatives and/or asinine co-workers can relate.

But before you hit play, please move all sensitive electronics (or cats) away from spit-take range.

[Turn Signal: TMV]

19 February, 2007


Normally, I'd try to write some ultra-verbose post about how small, petty, and utterly despicable the city of Manassas Park is being...

But I'm too pissed off to try.

Write your own.

[Turn Signal: Hit & Run]

18 February, 2007

Evolution In Action

Now THIS is what I call a pick-up line:
I want to take you home tonight. I know it may seem impossible without the intercession of a creator, but if you’ll give me a chance, I can show you a sequence of small steps that will have the same result!
Heh. Indeed. And, unfortunately, all too true these days. It will take the intercession of a creator for me to even have a date, it seems like.

[Turn Signal: Ang.]

15 February, 2007

Maybe They DO Listen To Me

Via Shakes (who I wish was still working for Edwards) comes this story about Every Republican's Least Favorite Marine:
Murtha hopes to choke off the 4-year-old war in Iraq by placing four conditions on combat funds through Sept. 30:

The Pentagon would have to certify that troops being sent to Iraq are "fully combat ready" with training and equipment; troops must have at least one year at home between combat deployments; combat assignments could not be extended beyond one year; a "stop-loss" program forcing soldiers to extend their enlistment periods would be prohibited.

"We're trying to force a redeployment not by taking money away, by redirecting money," Murtha said, adding he wants U.S. funds to be slanted more toward diplomacy and Iraq reconstruction.
Hmmmm... Sounds faintly familiar to me for some strange reason.
For one thing, the "surge" plan is doomed to fail unless and until they scrape up every single bit of necessary and required materiel from stateside and ship it over to the sandbox with all overdue haste. It won't make a bit of difference to send in another fifty thousand, hundred thousand, two hundred thousand pairs of boots, plus the people to stand in them, if they don't have the gear they need. This is a must, period, ad infinitum, ad astra, ad nauseum.

Second, all talk of preemptively cutting funding must cease. Instead, we should actually stop diverting funds from the troops stationed in Iraq in the first place. We're putting more and more money into the Iraqi infrastructure than we are into the actual needs of the people fighting. This, as they say, is a Bad Idea. Fund them right, feed them right, equip them right. You want to show your support of the troops? Then do it where it counts. No more "I support my troops so I'm pulling them back home" garbage.
Has John Murtha been sneaking peeks into this blog without me noticing it? If he has, or if any Member of Congress does so, please feel free to hire me on. If you don't need a blogger, then pass word on to your interested colleagues. I could really use a better job, and don't have hardly any documented skeletons in my archives.

Couldn't do much better than that, could you?

09 February, 2007

Makes Me Think Of Bad Pick-Up Lines

Maybe she can explain this to me in 7 days.
As Mugatu would say, widgets are so hot right now. Which means that we at Lijit are in the right place at the right time....hopefully with the right message. My job is essentially to push sexy new things on the unassuming blogging public. So watch out. No blogger is safe from getting an outreach plea to bring sexy back to your blog. You know you want to.
Personally, I have to figure out how this blog was sexy in the first place. Or blogging period, really. There's many things I can think of that would make someone say "Oh! That's so hot!" than saying "Yup. I'm a blogger. So what's your Blogosphere Ecosystem rating?"

Yeah. It don't work too well. Then again, she'll be explaining it at the Blogger Bash, so I'm fairly certain alcohol will be involved. So who knows.

08 February, 2007


John McLaughlin over the weekend:
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If the war continues in the direction it's going -- and we'll get to this in another discussion at another issue later in the program -- if there is an embarrassment, a serious embarrassment by reason of deviation of funds, it could also perhaps move in --
CNN today:
Bills weighing a total of 363 tons were loaded onto military aircraft in the largest cash shipments ever made by the Federal Reserve, said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Democrats led by Waxman also questioned whether the lack of oversight of $12 billion in Iraqi money that was disbursed by Bremer and the CPA somehow enabled insurgents to get their hands on the funds, possibly through falsifying names on the government payroll.
Sometimes, watching politics is like watching a train wreck. Or a hockey fight. You know something bad is going to happen, but you just can't, for the life of you, turn away.

And sometimes you just make popcorn, because when something is finally released, particularly when you've been waiting years for it to come out, you just have to sit and watch it a few times.

I think I'm going to need more popcorn.

07 February, 2007

Problem, AND it's A-GONe

Well, Amanda Marcotte definitely is fulfilling her main aspirations these days. First, getting hired onto the Edwards '08 campaign is probably one of the coolest things I've ever read. (And her campaign co-blogger, Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister, is one of the more interesting flaming liberals on my reading list.)

Second, she's caused one heck of a ruckus over the last two days.

Now, before I go any further, let me state a few things right off the bat. I don't like Amanda. I don't like her writing style. I don't like her political stance. I don't like her language choices. I don't like her rabid anti-Y-chromosomal rants. I really hate her constant rushes to judgment and her over-the-top-and-back-again in-your-face attitude.

But this post isn't complaining about what she wrote about the accused members of the Duke lacrosse team. That's the whole freedom of speech, civil-liberties absolutist in me. She has the right to say what she wants to say on her own forum. C'est la vie.

But no. She went and deleted what she had written after she caused all kinds of controversy. (Here. Here. Here. Here, plus her deleted comments. Here again. Here for a change. Oh, and here too.)

And that, to me, is a cardinal sin in the blogosphere. If you can't stand by what you have written about a topic, that's one thing. Hells, that's what HTML's strikethrough command is for: getting rid of stuff you can no longer support by the evidence and facts. But you bloody well leave it up! No cleaning. No purging. No memory-hole. No jack-all deletions. No clarification of "official stance" that is a complete and total rewrite. Nothing. You leave it, you strike it through, you update on the bottom or the top of the post, and you leave it so you can go back to it and say "My god, what a frickin' idiot I was for writing that!"

But this happened on her blog. Not the Official Edwards Presidential Campaign 2008 Blog. So no, she shouldn't be fired for it. What you do on your own time should never affect your job. (Again. Civil liberties absolutist.) Particularly when it happens before you officially start the job in question.

But if there's a single whiff of any whitewash emanating from her job site... Then we rise in arms for termination. If Edwards doesn't cave in to Bill Donahue's clarion call for her head on a silver platter, that is. And if he doesn't cave...

We will be watching.

06 February, 2007

Another Corrupt Democrat

The searchlight of justice seems to have pinned down yet another politician from my side of the double-yellow line: Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent J. Fumo.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, one of the most powerful figures in Pennsylvania politics, was indicted Tuesday on 139 federal counts alleging he used a nonprofit group for personal and political gain and defrauded the state Senate out of $1 million.
Authorities had been investigating the Citizens' Alliance for Better Neighborhoods for more than four years. The group was started by Fumo aides in 1991 to serve the neighborhood where he grew up.

The 267-page indictment included wire fraud, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, mail fraud and tax counts. It also accused Fumo of engaging in a systematic cover-up through the destruction of e-mails and other electronic records.
"Fumo not only abused the Senate purse by paying employees who solely or partially did personal and political work for him, but further defrauded the Senate by overpaying employees who did both official and personal tasks," the indictment said.

Fumo, anticipating the indictment on Monday, temporarily stepped down as the ranking Democrat on the appropriations committee but remains in the Senate.

The Philadelphia Democrat, who has beaten two previous indictments, promised to clear his name.
"He directed that Senate employees and contractors employed by the Senate serve him in any manner he desired, throughout the regular workday and at all hours of the day and night, to further his political goals and attend to his personal wants," prosecutors said.

Enough is enough is enough is enough is enough. Too many Democrats have taken to heart the adage, as coined by the semi-mythical Nixon staffer, "Power corrupts. Absolute power is kinda neat, though." Actually, too many starts with the number one. He's bilked the Pennsylvania treasury, shafted the state Senate, and used his power for his own gain. This Fumo character has even gone so far as to accuse the judge of animosity against him by citing his "repeated personal attacks on Judge Davis' character, honor, independence, integrity, honesty, judicial temperament and suitability for office" so as to force the judge to recuse himself from the case. All this puts him at the same level as Congressman Jefferson down Louisiana way: political toilet logs that need to be flushed alongside their political careers.

The One And Only Angie wondered if this guy was a Republican, would we left-leaning folks be all over him like stink on toilet logs? Yup. Should we give him a free pass simply because he's not a Republican? Nope. Too bad that the only Democratic blogger even mentioning this whole escapade is teh Atrios, and he gives Fumo a nice slap upside the head. (Exceedingly rare it is that I give Duncan a credit instead of giving him a slap upside the head. Yet I give the credit when it's due.)

Only one person shining the searchlight on this? And now, including myself, two?

Not nearly enough.

Carpe jugulum.

(To respond to 186, only dishonest partisan hacks in the Democratic party try to pretend that corruption is only a Republican problem. And one thing I am not is a dishonest partisan hack. I try to be an honest partisan hack, thank you very much. Too bad I fail miserably at the partisan hackery.)