Subjective Objectivism and Road Rage…

A recent incident got me thinking about how ones emotions and perceptions affect ones Judgment on the road. Now I will readily admit to being a bit of a lead foot, and this often puts me in a unique position in terms of how I view traffic, as I tend to always be one of the faster vehicles of the road.

However even from your Sunday driver perspective, the reactions of some other drivers make no sense to me. Here’s one (out of numerous examples) of what I’m talking about.

So I’m moving along in the passing lane, going by a string of cars moving slower than I, when I encounter an SUV, just cruising in the passing lane. Now, as I stated before, I’m admittedly a leadfoot, but I’m not entirely inconsiderate. This vehicle is not moving particularly fast, but there are cars in the lane to this drivers right, and so I just hang back and wait for the driver of this humongUV to have an opportunity to move over to the cruising lane. About five minutes later, this SUV clears the cars to the right, and comes up on a stretch of road with no other cars for about half a mile ahead.

Now In my mind, I’m thinking “OK, now this driver should move over to the right, and let me pass.” Not necessarily because I think the driver should be able to read my mind, but rather because the shoulder of this particular highway is sprinkled generously with “Stay right except to pass” signs. Now common sense would dictate that a driver, confronted by a quarter mile of empty road between them and the next closest vehicle ahead, and repeated confirmatory signage, would move to the right, right? You would think so wouldn’t you. Except I wait for about a minute, then two, (maybe even three) and…

Nothing. No blinker, no attempt to change lanes, not even a glance to the side. After a mile or so of cruising like this, I’m beginning to think this driver is zoned out or something. Nonetheless, we are coming up on another group of cars, and not wanting to spend the rest of my life stuck behind Miss Daisy’s driver, I decide to pass this vehicle on the right. Now here’s where the fun begins.

As soon as I signal, get into the right lane and start to accelerate to get around this massive canyonero, it SPEEDS UP!! And no, I’m not talking just a little faster. I’m talking pedal to the metal, “Pass me over my dead body…” speed. Now for a second I’m a little perplexed. Then, seeing that we are rapidly approaching a body of vehicles, my lead foot instinct kicks in, and having a much faster vehicle, I simply gun it and go around the rapidly accelerating hulk of steel.

Now perhaps I cut back over into the passing lane a little closer than this driver would have liked, (I don’t think I did, however I’ve learned that perceived safe passing distances to be a subjective thing), or I somehow inadvertently upset this drivers paradigm of the universe, or maybe being passed just didn’t sit well with this driver, but their reaction thereafter was… I’ll describe it as… very intruguing.

Because as luck, (or my lack thereof) would have it, we were stuck in a clump of cars with a similar Sunday driver in the lead, and Mr/Mrs. Canyonero took to tailgating me to within six inches of my rear bumper for the next few miles. Because clearly, I had passed unsafely/cut them off, and this driver felt that I needed to be taught how to drive safely. Eventually I wearied of this game, and threaded my way through every little nook and cranny I could find in traffic, knowing it could not follow, until I was clear of the irate steel monster…

Now here’s the question. What is it with the “lane hog” mentality? I fail to understand this. If you want to drive at 10mph below the speed limit, by all means, do so, but why sit in the passing lane while doing so, and impede all other traffic who actually would like to drive at the limit? If you all go look at your drivers manuals, you will realize that the far left lane is a PASSING LANE, NOT a DRIVING LANE.

Why then, do people guard the left lane as if their very lives depended upon it? Is it so difficult to stay in the right lane until you need to pass? And even if you are passing other vehicles at a good clip, if the next vehicle is a good quarter mile ahead of you, must you sit in the left lane until you get there? Does it take that much effort to change lanes?

And perhaps the most perplexing behavior are those who cruise at some constant (but relatively low) speed in the left lane, but suddenly accelerate to prevent you from passing if you try to pass them on the right! In the name of all things good in the world, what is your malfunction? If you want to cruise at Xmph, then cruise at Xmph, I certainly won’t hold that against you. And while annoying, I can see (sometimes) where it does make sense to stay in the left lane.

But if you cruise in the left lane, with no other cars to your right, and a string of cars behind you, and you fail to understand why you need to move over to the right, you NEED remedial driving lessons. Or a wet trout to the face. Whichever would be more effective. And if, in the stated scenario you decide you need to actively and aggressively prevent another vehicle from passing you on the right, then you need both remedial driving lessons and COUNSELING.

Why? Because honestly, If you do all of the above, you have got to have some rather serious issues.

Now I’ll also mention that, on most roads, moving out of the way of vehicles that are moving faster than you is not only a common sense act of courtesy, in many places, it is the law. Not that I place much stock in the validity of all of the laws of the road nowadays, but people constantly cite the speed limit as the reason why they should not have to move over. I hear things like “I was driving at the speed limit, so anyone who wants to pass me will be speeding, so nobody should need to have to pass…”

LOL What?

Seriously, if you are worried about people obeying the law, then you need to obey the law yourself and move over, you little hypocrite…

And perhaps the most irrational actions come from those who go into full “Road Rage” when people who try to circumvent thier inconsiderate (and illegal) road hogging behavior, in the only way they have available to them. Passing on the right.

Now I understand that for some folks, ones car is considered an extension of their home. And as a result, people tend to treat road incidents like they have been accosted in their own living rooms. Well, let me point out a few things to remember.

First, If you truly, honestly feel like your car is an extension of your home, then you should fully expect that everyone else feels the same. And hanging out in the left lane is the equivalent of making everybody else wait in line for the bathroom. Treat the left lane like the bathroom.

Do your business and get the heck outta there as fast as you can. If you don’t you should not be surprised or angry when people start banging on the door. If you are, then you are fully admitting that you are being a selfish, inconsiderate jackass.

Here’s the reality check: Even if you consider your car an extension of your home, you also just so happen to cruising your mobile La-Z-Boy on public roads that you have to share with everyone else. Stop acting like the road is there for your use alone. I have a tendency to speed, I will admit that, but I also stay out of everyones way, avoid tailgating as much as possible, and generally try to be mindful of the needs of other drivers. And If I see someone moving faster than I, I get the heck out of their way, regardless of how fast they are going. In fact it is in your best interest to do so. Any other mentality is simply foolish.

Honestly. If you are one of those people who consciously just cruise in the left lane all the time regardless of what’s going on, you are an inconsiderate jerk. And if you are of this ilk, and also actively and aggressively attempt to deter any attempts to pass you, then you are a jerk who needs some serious counseling…

Disney characters are not immune from the law…

Apparently, even fictional Disney cartoon characters are subject to the law. At least in Italy. NOT!:

Tweety may get a chance to take the witness stand and sing like a canary. An Italian court ordered the animated bird, along with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and his girlfriend Daisy, to testify in a counterfeiting case.

In what lawyers believe was a clerical error worthy of a Looney Tunes cartoon, a court in Naples sent a summons to the characters ordering them to appear Friday in a trial in the southern Italian city, officials said. – [Yahoo/AP]

HA. Yeah Right. Tell ya what. Tweety may be a canary, but he isn’t gonna sing like one. And let’s not forget Mickey Mouse is an old Gangsta. The Italian Mafia ain’t got nuthin’ on Old “G”s  like Mickey M. He and his family run Disneyland, and they ain’t takin’  no nonsense from the law. The Italian authorities know how the Disneyland gang rolls. That’s why they are scrambling to remove their names from the subpoena. Ain’t nobody tryin’ to git whacked or nuthin’.

Heh. They’re lucky if Daisy Duck didn’t actually hear about it otherwise she would have insisted Donald put a hit out on someone for it…

Tweety, Donald Duck summoned to court – [Yahoo/AP]

Personal Responsibility: an archaic ideal?

What happened to the days when people took responsibility for not only thier own actions but the results if accidents that happen to them?

 An injured woman who slipped in an Alaskan parking lot can sue the federal government for failing to remove snow and ice, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Monday. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

When did it become par for the course for people to sue for slipping and falling on ice? More importantly, why does that make sense to anyone? People don’t intentionally put ice out to make people fall. It’s not a malicious act. It’s an act of nature. Why should anybody be forced to expend the time, energy and/or cash clearing out their own sidewalk? Because it’s on their property? Hogwash!

So what happens if nobody owns the land that you happen to slip and fall on? Who do you sue? God? Mother Nature? How dumb is that? How can it be the rule of the land that if you have an accident on someones property, they are automatically at fault for it, even of they have successfully avoided any similar accident for years?

How about people stop blaming everyone else for accidents that are often just the fault of their own carelessness? How about being more responsible, like walking more carefully when they see ice? Or waiting for hot coffee to cool down before drinking it? These laws shield those who lack common sense, are allowing people to become dumber and dumber every day. Before you know it, we will all be stupid Eloi, hunted and consumed by legal Morlocks…

In icy Alaska, Army can be sued over fall – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Teen MySpace Suicide. Preventable, but not the way you think…

An article today talked about a teen who committed suicide after a rather cruel Myspace prank:

The parents of Megan Meier of Dardenne Prairie, who hanged herself last year, said her suicide came minutes after she received mean messages through the social networking site MySpace. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now that is very tragic. Teen suicides are probably the saddest thing that can happen, and probably the most devastating thing that can occur to a parent.

A police report said that a mother from the neighborhood and her 18-year-old employee fabricated a profile for a teenage boy online who pretended to be interested in Megan before he began bullying her. – [Yahoo/AP]

OK now this is just plain mean and senseless. Some people really need to get a life. That 18 year old seriously needs a date or something…

After the case became public, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt asked lawmakers to review state law to see if changes were necessary to better deal with cases that involve Internet bullying. Some municipalities have also considered or passed statutes to strengthen laws that deal with Internet harassement. – [Yahoo/AP]

Ah, of course. The obligatory knee-jerk, parent activist motivated legislative law passing that is bound to bite us in the rear at some point in the future…

What is truly sad about this incident, isn’t that internet laws aren’t tough enough, bullying laws aren’t tough enough or even, as an extreme example of the futility of this kind of lawmaking, that suicide laws aren’t tough enough. The truly sad thing was that the teen wasn’t tough enough.

Here is the thing. I have known kids who were beaten down and abused daily by their parents, who did not kill themselves. I’ve seen kids grow up in environments that would mentally cripple an adult. But they actually became tougher, stronger and more resilient.

When I was growing up, many of my friends and I were subjected to actual physical bullying. Not stupid disparaging emails. Actually, we didn’t have email. I would have preferred to be bullied by email. But the thing is, none of us contemplated suicide, only survival. None of them have committed suicide. Not one.

My point is this. The internet bullying isn’t the big problem. It’s the way kids today are raised. The ones that commit suicide tend to have considered it long before they ever do, and need special treatment. Or even better yet, to have been raised differently.

If it isn’t internet bullying, it will be failing a test, buckling under peer pressure, failing to achieve a goal later in life, who knows. No law will prevent that mindset. But good parenting, and where necessary, the right treatments, can. So let’s quit making stupid knee-jerk laws, and focus on how to treat suicide prone teens, indeed how to properly raise our kids so they don’t become suicide prone teens.

Seriously, if all it takes for your teen to kill themselves are mean emails from someone they really don’t even know, don’t you think there must be something else terribly wrong?

No charges in MySpace suicide case – [Yahoo/AP]

More car crushing idiocy…

It would appear that Australia is taking a page from Californias law book of senseless and excessive practices:

Street racers in Australia will soon see their beloved cars being deliberately smashed by the authorities in videos posted on the Internet.

The often flashy, souped-up vehicles will be wrecked in crash tests under laboratory conditions, the New South Wales state government announced. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Now I’m sure some of you out there are thinking “Serves them right!”, but I assure you, this law is not a good thing. There is a reason this hasn’t been done in the past. This is technically a violation of an individuals rights. When convicted killers go to prison, even they do not have their belongings destroyed. They may be confiscated and cataloged, but they get them back when they get out. If they get out.

So how exactly can anyone think that this is a fair penalty for any lesser crime? I’d rather impose this penalty for drunk drivers, rather than street racers. At least the street racers are actually in full control of their faculties, and some of them (let me iterate the *some*) are actually really good drivers. The same cannot be said for drunks. But the kicker is that ultimately, as a deterrent, it wouldn’t work for that either.

These kinds of knee-jerk, intimidation-based legislative decisions set very dangerous precedents that could have very profound future ramifications. And to top it off, it’s not like this is going to deter anyone from street racing anyway. Most of the folks who street race will do it regardless of the penalties. Literally. These laws are little more than public displays to make others feel like something is being done about the problem, when in fact, it will have little effect on any hard core racers.

However to their credit, the Australians have adopted a better use for the vehicles than just crushing them. They will be used for crash tests. Which is orders of magnitude better than Californias pointless “crush ‘em all” solution. But both laws are seriously troublesome. The law will have to be very specific on what constitutes “street racing”, and even then I’m sure many police officers will still abuse it, much like how the “aggressive driving” box is seemingly checked on tickets at will, as opposed to, let’s say, the tickets of drivers who actually meet the legal definition of “aggressive driving”…

Aussie street racers to see cars crashed by govt – [Yahoo/AFP]

Use the crosswalk… Or else…

Most of the time, I find myself ranting about the flaws in our legal system, but today we have a unfortunate example of a man who appears to have a rather poor grasp of the basics, and subsequently cause himself a little more grief than neccesary:

Leroy Franklin Cladd Jr. was cited for not using a crosswalk late Thursday night. He balked at signing the ticket, a misdemeanor that landed him in jail. He was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, police said. – [Yahoo/AP]

OK. To be fair, I can see where this guy erred. Honestly, why would they throw you in jail for jaywalking? But that’s the problem. They didn’t throw him in jail for jaywalking. They threw him in jail for refusing to answer to the charge of jaywalking. Big difference.

In case you don’t see the difference, let me spell it out for you. Jaywalking. No big deal. But if, perchance, you get caught by a bored officer with nothing better to do, you get a citation. The citation is merely a charge, an accusation of an infraction. Your signature on a citation is not an admission of guilt or innocence, it is simply a way of legally ensuring that you will show up, to either challenge the accusation, or admit guilt and make restitution.

If you don’t sign, you are not legally bound to voluntarily answer to the charge at a later date, so the only way to ensure that this happens is to arrest you on the spot, throw you in jail, and bring you before the next available judge. It’s that simple. It may seem a little harsh for a crime as piddling as jaywalking, but there you have it. The law ain’t perfect.

Seriously, the man should have just signed the doggone citation. At least that way, he might have had a few drinks at the bar before they came and arrested him for not showing up in court…

Fla. man jailed for jaywalking – [Yahoo/AP]

Laaaaaaaw, is a many splendored thiiiiiing… Not.

OK, forgive my musical refrain. I ran across an article today that kinda illustrated how important it is that the laws be objective, not morally motivated, and constantly revised to stay current with the changing times:

Dying in parliament is an offence and is also by far the most absurd law in Britain, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 people by a television channel showing a legal drama series.

And though the lords were clad in their red and white ermine cloaks and ambassadors from around the world wore colourful national costumes, at least nobody turned up in a suit of armour. Illegal. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Obviously many of these laws probably had some practical logic to them when they were made, and merely suffered from being too broad or too specific in scope. However the same is true of many of the laws on the books today. They are based on historical or social standards that are either obsolete or irrelevant today.

On the other side of the coin, there are laws placed on the books, that are simply poorly thought out. Most often emotional the result of knee-jerk reactions by over zealous lawmakers. For instance banning baggy pants? No tag in school? No hugs?!? Seriously, how is banning baggy pants supposed to reduce the crime rate of a city? (see <Dumb Laws.com> for a big list of really wacky laws… Fair warning, you may laugh yourself into oblivion :) )

But on a more serious note, the law has become a means for activists to push their own agendas, as opposed to protecting the society at large, and no, the two are not the same thing. An equitable legal system does not discriminate against anyone on the bases of race, color, creed, beliefs, etc, so it is absolutely ludicrous that any one should have to face prosecution simply because of their choice of clothes. What we are seeing is an abuse of the legal system. And it really needs to stop.

Die and you’re under arrest! Britain’s most stupid laws – [Yahoo/AFP]

Beer can crushing bosoms gone awry…

Today, I read an rather intriguing article:

An Australian barmaid who entertained patrons by crushing beer cans between her bare breasts and hanging spoons off her nipples has been fined, police said Wednesday.

Wait, wait, what! Why?

 Luana De Faveri, 31, was fined 1,000 dollars (900 US dollars) in the Mandurah Magistrates Court in Western Australia after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Liquor Control Act. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Eerm… Not sure what to say about this. On one hand, I don’t really have a problem with barmaids who feel the need to crush beer cans between their gazongas. Or hang spoons from them. But then again, I’m the laid back sort, and there are health codes and stuff for a reason. But then again, if they’re sanitary enough for newborn babies to drink from…

Dagnabbit… I’m soo conflicted right now…

Aussie barmaid fined for crushing cans with bare breasts – [Yahoo/AFP]