Tag Archives: automobiles

Living in a Material World

20 Mar

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Every now and then when I go on long highway drives I have a revelation. I’m Not sure if they are in any way prescient or prophetic…hopefully not, but here is my revelatory story from today’s sojourn across the state of New Jersey.

As I was driving down the highway at 75 MPH I noticed, while glancing into my rear-view mirror, an angry old man flashing his lights and gesturing for me to get out of the way. I was already traveling at 10 miles per hour more than the legal speed limit but I also noticed that as far as the rest of the traffic was concerned, I was a slacker! So I pulled out of his way only to find myself in front of a young woman talking on her cell phone who was rapidly gaining on me and looked as though she was prepared to go right through me if she had to.

Yikes! I was now pushing 80 MPH and still cars were passing me and weaving in and out of the traffic created by other motorists who thought that traveling in the 70’s was pretty damn fast…

And speaking of the 70’s I remember living and driving in the 1970s when the speed limit of the land was 55 MPH and set there as a way to save gas and oil and curb our need of foreign oil. And we were also concerned about pollution back then and the ecology and the ecosystems of our planet, or at least we said we were. We seemed to be trying. And we had hostages in Iran, and OPEC was ruling the day and we needed to change our dependence on oil and fossil fuels…

And now here we are in 2015, just having finished 2 long and grueling wars in the Middle East and threatening to start another! We are still held hostage by the fear of terrorist groups cutting off our oil supplies. And we bust open every inch of the earth on our own homeland in an endless search for more fossil fuels for us to waste on our highways, in our wars and with our modern devices of leisure and convenience…while the vast majority of us no longer even believe that any of this is doing any great harm to our world. And even if some of us do, it does not seem to affect our participation in the madness of it all. 7 billion humans strong, living and breathing and polluting each and every day, with still many, many more polluters to come.

Traveling at 80 MPH, it would only take us about 3 hours to reach the end of Earth’s atmosphere…all around our planet… about the distance from North Jersey to Washington D.C…that’s it. 3 hours of air and then you would be driving off into space and hoping that your car’s air conditioning would save you while you try to turn around. Of course it wouldn’t because the guy behind you would be flashing his lights and honking his horn while yelling at you to get out of the damn way…plus the air conditioning thing wouldn’t work…but you knew that, right?

But I digress, because I believe my true revelation was that we all live in a material world and have no intention to go quietly into that good night. Unless some scientists come up with a way to save the planet from ourselves and then get the dumb asses in Congress to believe them, rather than take Big Corporate’s money and continue to commit global suicide, I fear none of the rest of us will care nor take the time to pay any attention to what’s going on around us to see our own end approaching.

Sooner or later this planet is going to shake us all off like a bad cold…or not. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…that is if any of us plan on paying attention at the time…

The GM Defense

8 Jul

It’s funny how people process their morality. It seems that the higher the monetary stakes the more likely it is that a person will find a reason to behave immorally. Especially if the person is far away from the other people that his decisions will be affecting and most definitely if those people are of another class/culture or race.

So money gained minus people hurt divided by class/culture and race, times distance from those affected equals the probability of altering one’s moral turpitude…or

$ – P/CCR x D = M                  

  …or something like that.

Anyway, it doesn’t take an Einstein to know that causing the deaths of 12 people because you don’t want to spend a whole lot of money redesigning and recalling your automobile is wrong…does it?…but then again I don’t work for or own or represent General Motors. I’m just one of the poor, affected, middle class saps who bought one of their cars.

So try this technique should you ever find yourself on the wrong side of a murder/homicide.

If you’re the one holding the smoking gun just fire as many bullets as you can at the floor or ceiling or wherever there aren’t any other humans for as long as you can until the police arrive to arrest you.

Then at your trial have your lawyer point out that you fired over 10,000 bullets and only hit and killed one person! Who would spend that kind of time and money on murder? It was obviously just a mistaken and costly accident.

Call it the General Motors defense!

And, oh yeah…you’re welcome.

 

 

 

 

Driving Miss Distracted

24 Apr

 

My dad loved to drive. I think for him nothing represented freedom more than being able to get into a car and go…and he loved to go anywhere at any time. And back in those days, driving was just about all one could do in a car. You got behind the wheel, maybe opened the window (because air conditioning was a fancy extra in those days) and put on the radio (and there weren’t many stations so you didn’t have to worry about changing it all the time) and off you went.

And my dad loved the radio as a driving companion and we could always tell when he was just about home because the sound of his humming (he never sang along) preceded the noise of his car  as he turned the corner into our street. (and cars were noisy back then too)

Now however, things have noticeably changed when it comes to cars. They have become multi-task space stations for inner space travelers. Does anyone ever open a car window anymore? Even the dogs who travel with their owners demand climate control these days.

And have you noticed how taking out one’s phone is now a mandatory  prelude to the happy motorist’s opening of the car door?

Now-a-days when I’m driving in the car I not only pay attention to the road but I also try to pay attention to what the driver in front of me is focusing on… just in case I need to anticipate something I haven’t anticipated before.

I have seen drivers chatting on their phones, dialing their phones, programming their phones, texting on their phones, tweeting, reading their Nooks, doing crossword puzzles on their Kindles, fighting with their multi-disc CD players, watching DVDs, Searching for the proper station on their 100 channel pre-programmed Satellite radio… writing notes, putting on makeup, styling hair, Blackberrying (is that a verb now?) Multi tasking with iPads and iPods while balancing a Starbucks’ double shot mocha latte.

Yesterday, I sat behind an automobile after the light turned green for so long I swear the driver could have been baking a casserole!

All I can say is thank god that whenever confined to a small space, looking out of the front window is still a common human habit… and something that most drivers still like to do! Yikes! Where would  we all be without curiosity and the basic instinct to wonder where we’re going?

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A Highway Is A Wonderful Thing

22 Apr


A highway is indeed a wonderful thing…All those rules and regulations laid out in neat white stripes and signs and speed limits, yet,  even though the individual  might wish to dare a little more for speed or to stray outside the legal boundaries…by some small miracle we all obey them…  and we manage to do this while each driving our own 2-ton machine, at maddening speeds and side by side with all the others…but still we can each feel the freedom of the open road before us.

And whenever someone does break the rules they must do it right there in front of us for all to witness; whether moving too fast or weaving in and out of traffic or cruising too slowly or not bothering to use the proper signals…their infractions are their truest confessionals.

If we so choose we can curse or yell or damn them to hell from inside the privacy of our own fortress of solitude or we can use the universal language of the common  car horn to communicate our  cacophonous epithets…and who better than a seasoned and experienced veteran of the steering wheel knows how to make that horn sing with righteous outrage?

And so we cruise these freeways by the thousand millions aware that it is among the most dangerous things that we can do…but even so we stay within  the lines and obey the rules… and if and when we do have, what we almost always call, an “accident”, we know that it is most probably because someone, perhaps even ourselves, wasn’t obeying those rules or was driving without the manners that a civilization requires, or without the sobering seriousness that any life lived so intimately and dangerously among others demands.

Yet even though 211 million of us expect to do it safely each time we take the wheel we also realize that having 10 million accidents a year is so far about the best our social order can do…

but still off we go to do it again, and again… and always inside the lines and at the legal limits…and in accordance with the rules of the road…

Yes a highway is a wonderful and most curious thing.

Common Sense and Sensibility

11 Apr

Common Sense and Sensibility

At least 31,940 people died from gun injuries in 2011.

34,367 people died from Motor vehicle accidents  in 2011.

No one knows exactly how many cars there are in America But, there are approximately 250 million registered vehicles on the road today. That figure includes all types of vehicles and approximately 16 million new vehicles are sold annually.

No one knows the exact number of firearms owned by private citizens in the US but In 1995, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimated that there were about 223 million firearms owned by individuals. It’s been almost 20 years since then and that number has surely increased. There can be no definitive answer however, because most states don’t require registration.

But it can be construed that collecting automobiles and firearms are two of America’s most famous and popular pastimes and that they are also equally as dangerous and deadly to not only the Americans that purchase and use them but also to Americans who do not.

To which I submit that the uniform regulation of automobiles in this country has long been in practice and yet has made little if any impact on the availability of automobiles to Americans. We require their registration and visible license plates that allow law enforcement officials to identify the owner immediately with the use of a computer database.

Automobile users must be of legal age and properly licensed. They must take a written test and a practical test to demonstrate that they know how to use the vehicle. They must even take an eye test to prove that they can see where it is they want to go.

They must be able to prove citizenship and residency and purchase mandatory liability insurance in the event that their automobile is responsible for damage to another’s property or person.

We even have federal rules and regulations that apply to the conduct of the driver and occupants of the vehicle requiring the use of seat belts (for their own protection) and limiting the use of phones and alcoholic beverages etc.. inside the vehicle.

We even require users to seek different and additional licenses and take additional competency classes and tests if they desire to use vehicles not considered to be average automobiles (i.e. motor cycles and trucks)

And if a licensed driver abuses or misuses their vehicle…it can be taken from them and they can have their license to use a vehicle suspended or revoked indefinitely.

And yet with all of this regulation automobiles have not been confiscated en mass and Americans have not lost their right to purchase an automobile, nor purchase as many as they would like, nor purchase whatever kind of vehicle they would like. And our extreme regulation of automobiles has not caused us to be  invaded by other countries nor has it led to the takeover of our country by a communist, fascist or totalitarian regime.

And do only outlaws now drive cars?

The current gun control proposals before the House and Senate ask Congress to  expand background checks, improve school safety and combat gun trafficking.

These are bad things? These proposals will sound the death knell for our Constitution? Background checks, school safety and trying to stop gun trafficking is the slippery slope that leads to… where?

…perhaps a better life for our children?

Recent statistics show that there were over 16 million gun applications in 2012. If they were all approved, that would be enough weapons to stock a member of NATO’s armed forces nearly five times over. The system has received over 156 million applications since 1998 and the US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world.

And yet gun advocates and owners are still angry, outraged, belligerent and confrontational even though no government entity  in the history of the United States has ever asked for them to give their guns or their rights to own them, back.

All I know is…If they showed up for their driver’s license and road test with all that anger and attitude…the motor vehicle officer probably wouldn’t give them one until they learned how to show and demonstrate the proper appreciation, reverence and respect for the deadly weapon they were asking to have access to.

GRACEFIFTEENTEN

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