Today, while waiting to cross the street, I saw something that should never happen.
Here in BC, at many intersections, there are left turn lanes. In some of them, the traffic light will show a green arrow that gives right of way to those turning left. The crosswalk I was at was one such intersection. And as you might expect, the left turn arrows came on in both directions. However, there were no vehicles in either left turn lane.
Is it not obvious that the above situation leads to unnecessary idling, and therefore wastes energy? I see no reason why it is impossible to put a sensor in a left turn lane that, that while the light is red, detects and counts the cars passing over. Perhaps it could detect cars by pushing down slightly when a set of wheels passes over. This will happen twice per car (once per axle). The cars’ weight could press the sensor down. While not perfect (a semi or other long vehicle with more than two axles would result in an incorrect number of vehicles) this will be a good enough approximation to form a sensor system. The number of cars passing into the left turn lane could then be used to decide whether to activate the arrow the next time the light turns green. This system would prevent unnecessary idling due to unneeded turning arrows, and ought to be relatively simple to implement (a computer could probably do it).
Today, I had to take a carpool home from work. Since the Lower Mainland is right near the US border, we get a couple of US radio stations. The driver had on one such station. And do you want to know what ad I heard on the way home?
An ad for the US’s Small Business Administration loans.
During a government shutdown.
As virtually everyone knows by now, there are significant threats of a government shutdown in the US. The basic guts around it is that the US government will run out of funds for daily operations as no appropriations bill has been passed (as of yet). The reason there is no appropriations bill passed is because the GOP wants to defund the Affordable Care Act, and therefore makes defunding it one of the strings it has attached to get what it wants. And there is also the debt ceiling on the way.
Do I agree that the above is irresponsible, petty, partisan, reckless, and obstructionist? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. But guess what, it is perfectly legal. Article 1, Section 5 of the United States Constitution says (in part) the following:
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.
In other words, filibusters, refusing to fund the government, and so on, are all allowed by the rules the two Houses of the United.
Therefore, this means that another takeaway from the (likely) US Government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis is that the rules of operation should be amended to prevent the above obstructionism and hostage-taking from being allowed to occur.
I found this article advocating that parents who don’t vaccinate their kids be subject to criminal charges or civil sanctions.
The article makes a good point. Anti–vaxxers are a threat to public health. There are certain people, such as those with weakened immune systems, or the extremely young, who cannot take them. Those people are therefore dependent on herd immunity to avoid getting sick and possibly dying. Anti–vaxxers therefore are potentially giving a disease to people who might die from it.
And people who (falsely) think vaccinations cause autism are either outright malicious or haven’t thought through to the logical consequences of their beliefs. I mean, vaccines prevent deadly diseases. And by refusing vaccinations for their children, they are in effect choosing a greater risk of dying over (according to their beliefs) a lower chance of autism. In other words, they’d rather their kid die than get autism. Do those people even know what they’re saying about themselves?
So yes, there should be no “philosophical” or religious exemptions for vaccinations, and refusers should be criminally charged. Anti–vaxxers are a threat to themselves and others, and in this respect are clearly unfit parents.
And while we’re at this, can we also treat refusals of newborn screening and choosing faith healing over modern medicine for dependent children? Far too many children have ended up dead because of this.
I know I’ve been inactive lately, but that is due to a full–time job that leaves less time for blogging. Still, I will try and keep posting.
In the meantime, here’s a link roundup:
- The Texas Attorney General admits to deliberate gerrymandering. At least he’s honest.
- The US might take steps to reduce the over–incarceration caused by the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs. This is a good idea. The vast majority of people imprisoned in the US to lengthy prison sentences are for non–violent crimes like drug possession. This is a huge drain on public resources, and a huge dump of corporate welfare for the prison industrial complex. Ending it would help public finances, and prevent many young people from becoming a permanent underclass. Treating drug addiction as a medical problem would also improve public health, while reducing drug use, and ending the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs would also reduce crime and gun violence in the US.
- It does not follow from the above that I necessarily endorse the use of drugs. The primary reason tobacco use causes heart disease is because smoking produces carbon monoxide. Smoking marijuana would produce likewise. (There is still excellent evidence that marijuana has medical uses, however).
- Noah Smith is right. Libertarianism really is just about protecting the liberty of “local bullies.”
Today has been a great day for homomentum, as SCOTUS has struck down part of the United States’ Defense of (heteronormative) Marriage Act and overturned California’s Proposition 8.
The guts of the first decision striking down part of the DOMA was that the federal government is not allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation when it comes to providing the benefits of marriage. Proposition 8 was struck down on a technicality: standing.