An interesting question

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be working in a facility where, as a matter of patient safety, there were no liners or trash bags in the garbage cans. I think everybody knows that garbage bags can be used to suffocate someone. Granted, the ones I use at home are probably not strong enough to hang a person.

So, knowing that trash bags can be used as weapons either against one’s self or others, why was there a trash bag in a jail cell? MSNBC would like to know, too.

Yes, there’s a lot of questions about what happened to Sandra Bland. And no, I don’t think it’s appropriate for an officer to threaten to “light you up” under most circumstances. But seriously, trash bags?

In Closing: Renegade DQ; intellectual honesty; and why exactly is the car’s computer accessible remotely at all??; raid; common sense; protein; bananas; Mammoth Cave.

Music Monday: Just Drive!

I bet you were wondering how I was going to work habits in, weren’t you?

So, let’s talk about driver safety. Did you know that there are a lot of people out there who still don’t wear seat belts?? If you’re one of them, I know a habit you should be working on. Driving while distracted is a terrible and potentially deadly habit you should break. Finally, let’s be aware that older cars have fewer safety features than newer ones and drive cautiously.

Oh, and probably best not to let your cat drive at all.

Shorties of Chuckie

Ok, let’s start with the NSA data dump: boy howdy and I do mean dump. Big mean dookie here and the administration keeps adding to the pile. Advice to the White House: sunlight is a good disinfectant.

On Republicans: And a possible shutdown of the government (because that worked out so well for the Republicans during the Clinton Administration). But remember, they know better than 97% of scientists about climate change (and for those who are religious? Rush is wrong and if Jesus does come back he’s gonna be honked about what we’ve done with the planet). Oh, and alert the media, I agree with Roger Simon.

On Computer Literacy: Most people aren’t. Even those kids we think are so much better on the computer than their elders. At least many of the elders are aware of the things they don’t know.

An Accidental Invention: The teabag.

On the Labor Force: There is no labor shortage, duh. Alien workers — including the undocumented ones — are sought after because they are easily exploited. Interns are free labor (which means it can be a challenge for young workers to accept the so-called opportunity unless Mummy and Daddy pony up cash). Modern Capitalism looks a whole lot like Feudalism.

Real Life MacGyver: Snakes on a Catapult and 9 other great tricks.

The Truth about Eyeglasses: pupillary distance, and adjusting your frames.

Petroglyphs: Over 10,000 years old.

On a Happier Note: Steinway sold for $512,000,000. Interestingly enough, the C above Middle C should be tuned to 512 hertz.

No Credit isn’t Bad Credit: the unscoreables.

Accurate Title: Yes, Vaccinations Save Lives.

I Question Their Criteria:’s list of “best” cars for short drivers doesn’t even mention adjustable belt points and properly proportioned seats.

Hmmm: Childhood obesity linked to school lunches and TV watching.

Scientists having a pissing contest: On de-extinction.

And finally: Goodnight iPad.

Music Monday: An Interesting Discovery

It turns out that locally, used economy cars are much more expensive than similar used luxury cars. A 10 year old Toyota or Scion in decent condition is $2000-4000 more than a 10 year old Lexus, despite the fact that they have almost identical drivetrains. The same holds true for Honda vs. Acura.

One more thing: JP is having a rough time. If you are in a position to help (or better yet, offer him a job!), please reach out.

In Closing: on employment, unemployment, underemployment, wages, poverty, the minimum wage, and the new normal.

Or, you know, we could “Just Say No”

Yesterday, USA Today published a delightful piece of “journalism” on car buying called “Tips to avoid car dash systems that’ll drive you crazy.” The second paragraph makes the following observation:

The best of the systems reduce distraction. They make driving easier and more pleasant. The worst can infuriate customers and devastate an automaker’s reputation.

No kidding. Glad somebody got paid to write those 3 sentences.

What’s interesting is that just last week, I read this commentary on a Bloomberg item that can briefly be summarized:

A $1500 or more device added to a car that (1) has out-dated maps the day it’s released, (2) if it can be updated at all costs a fortune to do so on a regular basis, (3) is slow, buggy and frankly has a user interface designed by Frankenstein?

You’re surprised that people buy a $20 suction cup or airvent clip and use their phone instead?

Where the hell have you been?

I know a man who swore a year ago that he would never again own a car with any sort of touch screen device in it — not even the radio! He correctly pointed out that it was a distraction to reach over and do anything on such hardware. However, Detroit has decided to channel Rhett Butler and frankly, not give a damn. You’ll have that hardware in your car and you’ll like it! I’m not willing to go so far as to agree with Mr. Denninger and speculate that “I’m sure the NSA finds this not only interesting but an actual goal.  Remember, if you never do anything wrong (like visit a hooker, smoke a joint, have one too many beers, etc) then you don’t care if big government knows literally every single thing you do — right?”

Look. I don’t need a lot out of that thing in the middle of my dashboard. It should play music, either via radio, CD, or from MP3s on my phone. I have grown to like bluetooth integration on my phone, but it must be absolutely painless and stay synced properly. I don’t need it to give me directions: I have a smart phone, a map book, and a functional brain, thanks. I don’t need to give it voice commands: my aforementioned smart phone takes voice commands quite well, I can pull over to make a call when needed, and I often have a co-pilot who can dial. And the device absolutely must have physical buttons that always exist in the same location when I need them. I can’t imagine why it hasn’t occurred to anybody in Detroit that looking to the console to see where the appropriate button is could be, you know, dangerous. But then, these are the guys who can’t imagine why you would put the car in park and not want every single door to unlock.

Don’t give me a fast ration about how I will learn to love the additional features I don’t need. Please, I managed 5 years as a Realtor without any damnable navigation system telling me when to turn left.

So next time I buy a car — which will hopefully be years from now — I will do the Nancy Reagan and Just Say No to expensive features I just don’t want or need.

We don’t want any trouble

Nobody wants to live in a bad neighborhood, right? And certainly nobody wants to live in the kind of place where the police are continually coming around.

But consider this situation. Imagine you get beaten up. As bad luck would have it, it happens a couple more times. The third time, the cops call your landlord and order him to evict you. After all, you’re a troublemaker. Bad things happen around you, and this town doesn’t want your sort here. Sound far fetched? Unfortunately, laws all over the country designed to make it easier to move known drug dealers and pimps into crappier areas evict criminal neighbors are being used to evict crime victims instead:

Last year in Norristown, Pa., Lakisha Briggs’ boyfriend physically assaulted her, and the police arrested him. But in a cruel turn of events, a police officer then told Ms. Briggs, “You are on three strikes. We’re gonna have your landlord evict you.”

Yes, that’s right. The police threatened Ms. Briggs with eviction because she had received their assistance for domestic violence. Under Norristown’s “disorderly behavior ordinance,” the city penalizes landlords and tenants when the police respond to three instances of “disorderly behavior” within a four-month period. The ordinance specifically includes “domestic disturbances” as disorderly behavior that triggers enforcement of the law.

After her first “strike,” Ms. Briggs was terrified of calling the police. She did not want to do anything to risk losing her home. So even when her now ex-boyfriend attacked her with a brick, she did not call. And later, when he stabbed her in the neck, she was still too afraid to reach out. But both times, someone else did call the police. Based on these “strikes,” the city pressured her landlord to evict. After a housing court refused to order an eviction, the city said it planned to condemn the property and forcibly remove Ms. Briggs from her home.

Sure, it’s “domestic assault.” It’s still assault, just as if some random guy beat her up  — except worse! If the cops told her, “Listen, he has to go and we will make sure he does,” that might be understandable. But no, just get out and try not to bleed on anything.

Unfortunately, neighbors that are afraid to call the cops are no better to have around than neighbors that violate the law. If you agree with the ACLU that “Effective law enforcement depends on strong relationships between police and members of the community,” you might consider sending them a couple bucks.

In closing: overdose; problem solving; on real estate, education, and commuting; parking; 15 out of 16 of us lost net worth between 2009 and 2001 (that’s after the real estate bubble popped, for those of you paying attention); one soda a day keeps insulin astray (ok, I strained to make that work); and an internet necessity.

Outpost: Shorties Sun

Hints of Sanity: Newt says something’s got to change.

Yesterday this was the funniest thing on the Internet: Review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant.

UN Believable: UN says “increasing funding for family planning by a further $4.1 billion could save $11.3 billion annually in health bills for mothers and newborns in poor countries.”

Pro-Life My @$$: Woman suffers for days in excruciating pain and eventually dies because her miscarrying fetus still had a heartbeat, despite the actually born mother’s pleas to terminate the doomed pregnancy. I have some very harsh words for the so-called pro-life people — mostly men who will never get pregnant —  who think there is never a reason to abort. Those words are probably not safe for work.

Interesting consequence: Hurricane Sandy caused a rise in used car prices.

I bet there’s a simpler reason: Romney believes that he lost because of Obama’s “gifts” to minorities? What? Seriously? Couldn’t have anything to do with unemployment and real wages, could it? At least Ryan was smart enough to dogwhistle the issue by blaming “urban voters” rather than by flat out saying “brown and black people.”

Poverty might be worse than we think:  Depending how you measure it, poverty might be over 16%. And worse yet, over 3% of Americans are in poverty simply because of medical bills.

Less popular than Vietnam: 82% think we are losing the War on Drugs. Only 23% think we should keep shouldering on.

Can’t tell what’s going on without a chart: The Petraeus mess is so weird that you couldn’t make it into an episode of a TV crime drama. Nobody would believe it. I can barely wrap my head around it without laughing. Shouldn’t a General know better than to stick his **** in crazy? And what is with the socialite that she thinks a few emails are worth calling in a favor from an FBI agent? For those of you who are having trouble keeping up USA Today has you covered with a chart. I love the image for “Shirtless Guy.” You know some intern had to sort through dozens of stock photos. At least Holly Petraeus will still have a job at the end of this mess.

Silly Snake!

Submitted for your approval:

Though it became a well-known pop culture joke after Samuel L. Jackson’s 2006 fictional movie, snakes can sometimes be found on a plane.

That’s exactly what happened on Tuesday when a cabin crew was checking an airplane that landed in Glasgow, Scotland, according to The Scotsman newspaperin Edinburgh. The flight had come in from Cancun, Mexico when staff found a 18-inch long, juvenile snake under a row of seats in the passenger cabin, the newspaper reported.

A Scottish animal welfare charity was called in to recover the snake, The Scotsman reported.

Ok, not exactly a new story. I delayed commenting due to travel. Anyone want to guess where I was?

My first thought was: “Silly snake! Why would you leave Cancun to go to Scotland?

My second thought was that I could completely understand how the little fellow got on board. His home was mere yards from the tarmac.

Cancun — the “nest of the snakes” — was carved out of the jungle. The airport itself is testament to that, and it is even more obvious if you travel South towards Playa Del Carmen. Outside the Hotel Zone, there are clear and constant efforts to keep the jungle from reclaiming territory. Even within the Hotel Zone, sun and salty air mean an ongoing battle against modern human-built structures. A bright coat of paint appears to be shorthand for “recently maintained.” You’ll see at least one person with a paint brush on a regular basis at any resort.

In Closing: about time!; I’ll skip the Winter Garden Loaf, thanks; what’s wrong with Lime Squeeze?; hmm; escaping poverty; security theatre; Nevada Supreme Court quietly wades into serious issues with national implications; and truth in numbers.

Time’s Wasting

Congress is officially out for the year. It’s the earliest departure in over 50 years, and the least productive Congress since World War 2. But there’s no point in beating your head against a wall to do nothing. Besides, by adjourning early, Harry Reid gave Scott Brown no excuse to miss his debate with Elizabeth Warren!

However, I must point out that Congress left a number of things undone before leaving town. Sure, maybe they’ll have better luck in the new Congress come January but I doubt it. Here’s just a few things:

  • They refused to vote on a bipartisan compromise farm bill that would have reformed agricultural subsidies and “food stamps.” Now we revert back to a bill from 1949.
  • They didn’t do anything about the massive looming cuts in public health and science.
  • They may yet find a way to weasel off the “fiscal cliff” by delaying it. And of course it’s easy to delay it again. And again….
  • They saved trade with Russia for later.
  • They haven’t passed a long overdue transportation bill.
  • They didn’t pass a budget, despite the fact that the new fiscal year starts a week from Monday
  • They have yet to do the will of the people and completely drive a stake through the heart of SOPA.
  • They have not extended the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act — one of the good pieces of legislation to come through on GW’s watch.
  • And as they say on the infomercial, many many more.

Remember Come November. Register to vote NOW.

In Closing: radical Islamic cleric almost foils FBI terrorist sting; way to report “news,” CNN; didn’t Jesus say something removing the plank from your own eye first?; hope she got the job; 30 years of emoticons; now he says it; ha, if they had a clue I would still be driving their cars; and desert blooms.

I guess with a zillion products, some are bound to be amusing

Has anybody else done Hip Hop Abs? There’s a great moment where they start playing Don’t Cha and big ol’ Shaun T. exclaims “That’s my soooong!” (alas, just before this clip starts).

Well, at Walmart you’ll find that the Pussycat Dolls have their own workout DVD:

Right. You’re totally gonna look like working out just 4 minutes a day. If you are a cheapskate, there are excerpts over on Youtube.

In closing: Presidential Beer; Republicans, Taxes, and Debt; young people don’t necessarily care about cars (why would they if Daddy will drive them everywhere?); and Atomic Ranch.