Friday, June 27, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

On Yellow Blinkers

This weekend I finally traded in my SUV for a more reasonable car. This makes me very happy, but it also made me come face-to-face with a sad fact.

The car manufacturing industry has forsaken yellow blinkers.

I told Freddy I had three musts for the car, which we'd already agreed would be a sensible, fuel-efficient, 4-door sedan (okay, one must, two really, really wants):
  • automatic transmission
  • sunroof
  • yellow blinkers

Most of you (of all the hoards of you who read this blog...) are probably giving your computer screen the same look Freddy gave me when I mentioned this.

"Yellow blinkers? What do you mean by yellow blinkers - don't all cars have yellow blinkers?"

On the front, yes. But how many times A) do you need the guy in front of you to know you're trying to change lanes, and B) the guy in front of you is checking his rear view mirror to see if you have your blinker on?

I want yellow blinkers on the back lights. Cars used to have these. Now they don't.

They still have blinkers, but they're just part of the brake light. They're red. So, in traffic, you can't really tell if that guy has his blinker on, or if he's just tapping the brake.

Maybe I'm being overly naive and romantic, thinking people A) use blinkers and B) look for other drivers' blinkers, to allow them in the lane. But I like yellow blinkers. If I'm going to yell at the other guy in traffic because he's not letting me in, then I'd better practice what I holler and let the other guy in when he needs it - but my clinically-unable-to-multitask brain has a hard time paying attention to details. To me, red lights on the back of a car are brake lights, not blinkers. My brain doesn't register them.

Why would car manufacturers go through the trouble of eliminating yellow blinkers? Did the price of yellow plastic go up in the last couple of years? Can our quick-cut, flashing-lights, video-game brains not handle seeing red, white, and yellow on a taillight?

Yellow is the brightest color - the easiest color to see. That's why they use it on school buses, so you can see them and therefore avoid hitting them (sadly, this didn't help a friend of mine in high school, who plowed into the side of a school bus regardless... but we'll just consider him to be a "special" case...) Why would we not want a signaling device on a motor vehicle to be as visible as possible? Why would car manufacturers go out of their way to change the status quo to make blinkers less visible?

Now, I agree that many drivers don't use blinkers at all and even for those of us that do, few times does the guy behind you in the other lane care that you have your blinker on, whatever color the flashing light happens to be. But, then there is that other breed: the drivers who think turning on the blinker means they have the right to plow into your lane, whether there is room for their car there or not. Don't you want to have as much -and as bright - a warning as possible, in case you're driving behind one of those yahoos?

Friday, June 13, 2008

There's a story brewing...

The University of Texas at Austin campus has almost as many squirrels as it has students, and most of them are pretty forward little critters (I studied for an Astronomy test sharing my animal crackers with a squirrel one morning. It was nice). This last week, walking around the University of North Texas campus, I've encountered this same breed of college-campus squirrels - none have asked me for food yet, but I did have a short exchange with one this morning. Had I had any crumbs to share, I would have. Since I didn't, he lost interest quickly.

All this squirrelous activity has me doing the what-ifs. There's a story here, but I haven't figured out what it is yet. (The Secret of NIMH came to mind this morning, and I think I'm liking where I'm thinking of going with that...)

It also has me thinking of Buffman. I remember when he graduated UT; there was a mournful air about his loyal Daily Texan readers. I cannot look at any squirrel (campus-breed or other varieties) without thinking of Buffman. I tried Googling him after graduation, but didn't find him. Alas, writing this post, I tried again, and found him! I'll have to actually read the website (instead of just linking it) later, when I'm not about to start class.

If you have any squirrel story ideas, let me know. There's a story brewing, but it's brewing slowly... I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Repairing the Damage, Before Roe (NYT essay)

"It is important to remember that Roe v. Wade did not mean that abortions could be performed. They have always been done, dating from ancient Greek days.

What Roe said was that ending a pregnancy could be carried out by medical personnel, in a medically accepted setting, thus conferring on women, finally, the full rights of first-class citizens — and freeing their doctors to treat them as such."

Waldo L. Fielding, retired obstetrician and gynecologist, from his essay published in the New York Times June 3, 2008.

Please read the full essay here.

I don't have much to add. He said it. Making abortion illegal will not stop abortion (again, does making rape illegal stop rape?), it will just put women at the mercy of hacks and coathangers.

I could ramble on, as I so often do, but I'll let the essay speak for itself. It does a pretty darned good job.