Friday, October 17, 2008

A twitch in time...

During the last (thank heaven) presidential debate the other day, I was searching for a way to describe Sen. John McCain's behavior. It hit me this morning....twitchy.

His mouth kept trying to form a smile. his hands and arms went all over the was just twitchy. Yes, I know he was injured ejecting from his shot-down plane over Hanoi during the Vietnam war, so his arms don't work so well. But that's not it. He just couldn't sit still, couldn't or wouldn't answer the questions put to him and, like his running mate Sarah (half-baked Alaska) Palin, kept scanning his notes for his talking points. 

Speaking of getting a twitch, I almost laughed myself into one the other day when a piece of mail arrived from, of all people, John McCain.

It seems the Republican party is in a quandary. They don't have money. It's an emergency.

Let me quote: "We've reached a critical juncture in the campaign. The Obama Democrats and their left-wing, special-interest allies (different from the McCain special-interest allies who are running his campaign) have come together in a united front, combining their enormous fundraising arsenal. Meanwhile, the national Democrats led by Chairman Howard Dean are stepping up their cynical campaign of distortions and outright lies, with the help of their cronies, like, are raising a staggering amount of money." Right on, Howie. Finally got something right.

Further down, it says, "I would not ask for your help if the circumstances were not so dire."
That was before Wednesday's performance, with its outright lies (Acorn and Ayers).

By the way, the ludicrous mention Wednesday night of Joe the Plumber who, by the way, is not licensed to work in the county where his boss' business is located, and, some say, has many skeletons in his closet. Joe said he didn't need a license because his boss has one. Turns out, the boss doesn't have a license either. So, as Dutch Reagan loved to say, Here He Goes Again. 

McCain talked about Joe the Plumber without getting all his facts together, without investigating. Just as he picked Sarah Palin for his running mate without investigating her and her knocked-up daughter an her hockey-puck husband. Oh yes, and her now-proven use of her power for vendettas against her sister's ex. Nice.

 Man, I'd better destroy this post if she wins, because the black-SUV guys will be kicking down my door.

Page 2

The bikers are taking over New Haven. No, not the Hell's Angels, the bicycle riders, the adults who have taken to making the city safer for themselves and people who walk (and presumably roller skate and ride skateboards.)

Before I say anything, let me establish my bona-fides. Years ago, when I worked on Orange Street and Sargeant Drive with the New Haven daily newspapers, I rode a bike to work for months at a time. I didn't ride on Sherman Avenue, but I did ride on the Boulevard and Whalley Avenue. When I was riding a desk and didn't need transportation during the work say, I rode my bike from Upper Westville to work.

So, I do not speak as a stranger.

First of all, I congratulate you for trying to wrest the streets away from the SUV drivers. What about cars...not many left on the roads. Count them sometime.

My daughter and her family live in Amherst, Mass., a place where the pedestrian and biker rule. In Amherst, as well as the nearby college towns of Northhampton and South Hadley (home to Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, UMass and Hampshire), they have gone overboard on stopping for crossing pedestrians. There are lighted, raised (a few inches) crosswalks, and you have the feeling that if you didn't stop, a roadside bomb would go off, blowing you off to the hell you so richly deserve to inhabit. OK, a little over the top.

I have no problem with biker safety and pedestrian safety, since I walk to synagogue at least once a week across busy intersections. But, like all things, a little thought could help.

First of all, bikers have to obey the law, too. In the past three weeks, the majority of bike riders I have encountered were blowing lights, riding down the center of busy streets (like Grove), and paying little or no attention to what is going on around them. 

That has to stop. Just as moped riders have to pay attention (unlike the two riding hell-for-leather on Fountain Street in dark clothes after dark with no lights, no reflective strips, nothing), so do bikers. Downtown, students, presumably Yalies, engaged in conversation just keep walking across streets with walk lights, paying little or no attention to the cars that, at that moment, have the right of way. 

So, rant over. Paul Bass, in his weekly video blog, talks about riding on Sherman Avenue, a wide street. Yes, cars shouldn't go fast on Sherman Avenue. A bike lane will make the street narrower. 

So, what about this thought process: Sherman Avenues borders what institution? The Hospital of Saint Raphael. What type of vehicles approach hospitals quickly? Ambulances. So, if you have an ambulance, a line of cars waiting for the light on George or Chapel, and a bike lane that constricts traffic, what do you have? An unnecessary hazard. 

Sure, 999 times out of 1,000, the bikers isn't wearing earphones with music cranked up so loud the siren isn't heard, the ambulance sees the biker, a car will move over, cars aren't parked nose to tail all the way down the street, a car isn't coming out of the doctors' building across from the hospital. You want to be that 1,000th person.

I wonder if the traffic experts who were cautioning against a bike lane on Sherman Avenue hadn't thought of some of these possibilities and the bike riders didn't. 

Yes, bikers should be able to ride safely and anything to get cars off the road is good. But, let's not stampede over good sense while heading for our goals.

Page 3

One quick question: The price of oil is down near where it should be, less than $70 a barrel. Wasn't that about where it was when gas and heating oil were less than $2.50 a gallon? If so, why are they still around $3.00 a gallon or more? 

Just asking.

Page 4

Here comes the weekend. It's supposed to be clear and cool, perfect leaf-peeping weather. Let's not stop the car in the middle of the road to gawk at wonderful colors. Yes, it happens, a lot more often than you'd think. 

Have a great weekend and, for those in the Tribe, a wonderful Shabbos in the succah.

Until next time...

No comments: