This just in…
In national news: Republican lawmakers in Texas have been frantically trying to make it virtually impossible for women in that state to get an abortion. Their attempts to make women’s vaginas the property of the state has been going on since 1998, when then Governor George Bush attempted to rewrite history by blaming the defeat at the Alamo on vaginas.
In an attempt to stifle protestors, current Governor Rick Perry went so far as to beef up security around the Capitol using police in riot gear. Perry’s over reaction was stunning considering most people had no idea he actually knew how to call the police.
From a sociological point of view, I understand why Texas would want to make abortion illegal. It’s in keeping with their habitual desire to remain a two-step and a do-sa-do behind the rest of the civilized world. That said, I can’t understand the need to impose your will on someone else, even if you are doing it with a friendly twang in your voice. Whether it’s the right to marry, the right to get an abortion or the right to immolate yourself, what difference does it make to you what another does? Okay, maybe setting yourself on fire should have some regulations, but letting a bunch of lawmakers, who couldn’t find a vagina with a flashlight and a GPS, decide what a woman does with hers is unacceptable. I think it may be time for Texas to elect some officials who want to dance with the rest of the world. Or they should act upon their threat to secede from the union. Personally, I’d prefer the latter.
In environmental news: According to a UCLA study released in June, there will most likely be a significant decline in snowfall on the ranges that provide a dramatic backdrop to urban Southern California. Researchers say that climate change is likely to decrease the snow fall by 30% to 40%.
Even though this dour forecast predicts a significant drop in the region’s ability to replenish ground water, and will likely mean the end of picturesque winter days where the snow-capped San Gabriel mountains provide the perfect backdrop for the glistening downtown skyscrapers, the news isn’t all bad. Less snow in the mountains means less snowboarders on the slopes. As a skier, this is something I’ve wanted to for decades. Okay, I understand that getting my wish means water becomes more precious than gold, wildlife is threatened by drought and small regional businesses who need winter sports to survive will likely go belly up. I’m simply trying to find a silver lining, however miniscule it may be.
In business news, the American Automobile Association (AAA) concluded a study that confirmed that hands-free, voice-activated technologies increasingly being used to access email or social media represent “significant impairments to driving that stem from the diversion of attention from the task of operating a motor vehicle.”
I don’t know what the name of the study was, but I hope the word, “Duh” was somewhere in the title.
I am amazed every time I see a driver texting, eating, reading, or something while they are driving. For the record, the findings of the AAA study is not news. Yet despite this, people continue to log onto Facebook while barreling down the road in their two ton weapons, not caring for their safety and more importantly, the welfare of others.
I am a broken record when it comes to this topic and I’ve been writing about it for years. I took this on before there were texting and driving laws and before phone companies joined in the conversation. I guess they finally realized their bottom line was suffering more from customers dying than from customers turning their phones off while driving, otherwise, they probably would have remained silent. Which brings me to the auto industry’s response to the AAA’s latest no-brainer conclusion.
In an LA Times article, Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said, “Our primary concern is that this study could send a misleading message to consumers… clearly, using hands-free is safer.”
Okay, hands-free is safer than hand-held. I agree. But sending a misleading message isn’t the point. The point is that, regardless of hand engagement, brains are less effective when they are multitasking. There is significant proof to back that up. When you try to do more than one thing at a time, you do both less efficiently. So why would the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers want to spin the AAA study like a car on an icy road? Because consumers will pay more for cars with gadgets and toys they can play with.
The truth is, we love shiny objects. And companies fatten their bottom lines by giving us exactly what we love. So it’s up to us to either change our preferences or change the driving laws so that using these toys while our cars are moving becomes impossible or carries a fine so stiff that it becomes undesirable. Until that happens, the auto manufacturers are going to cater to our whims – even if it kills us, our loved ones or strangers in the process.
Finally, in the media world: The New Yorker ran an image of Bert and Ernie in a pose that suggested the two puppets might be gay. In a romantically lit living room, the outline of Bert (or Ernie) can be seen resting his head on the shoulder of Ernie (or Bert). While the artistic license taken with the puppets was interesting, it was an assumption the editors of the New Yorker had no right to make.
According to the Washington Post, Sesame Workshop said in a statement, “Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits…they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”
As someone who has created fictional characters, I would be less cordial than Sesame Workshop if another entity, like the New Yorker, portrayed my intellectual property. In my opinion, the publication had no business creating an allusion that characters they did not create were something they were not. Even though there would be nothing wrong with Bert and Ernie having that kind of relationship, the New Yorker showed a lack of ethics and a rather sophomoric attitude in assuming that two men who were best friends for life were also gay. Kind of dickish, if you ask me.
Of course, I may have been overthinking the image. Maybe Bert and Ernie weren’t being portrayed as gay. Maybe they were just a couple of old alcoholics passed out drunk in front of the TV. In that case, carry on!
For this week, I’m over and out.