Saturday, January 25, 2003

Cop/Car Situation Update

We got the car back today! Hurray! (the back story is here and here)

We got the call at 4:30, come and get it ... frantic scramble to get out the door and make it before 5:30, when they close for the day. We had 10 miles to get through before we could get to Traynor Auto Body which seems trivial to you, maybe. Unless you commute on I-95 in Fairfield County, CT -- then you know that going from Norwalk to Fairfield (the town of) at 4:30 in the afternoon could be anywhere from a 30- to 90-minute drive (remember, I said TEN MILES!!). We made it in 40 minutes (whew!)

We signed over our first-born to ransom the car. Well, we really just paid the deductible of $500. We got a look at the total bill for this cop-couldn't-be-bothered-with-it fender bender. $1,832.67. Yep. Nearly two grand because the lying incompentent driver Damon Grant drives with his head up his ass.

When we got outside, we looked around, oh my! Is that shiny, beautiful thing OUR CAR? We had it washed before we took it in, just to get the road salt or whatever crap they use on the roads around her off. But this, this--it looked like a $50 car wash, by hand. And they even cleaned the entire inside!! Including arranging things neatly in that little storage doodad between the seats. It looked better than it did on the day we drove it home from McMahon Ford! Already I'm thinking about the thank-you letter we're gonna send Traynor (109 Thorpe Street, Fairfield, CT 06430 203-254-2106) if I made it back home in one piece.

I was concerned about how well the steering could be fixed--I was bummed out because for all the Ford Focus's shortcomings (and there are many, many shortcomings), the handling has always been superb. But outside of a little tightness (which Stanley says will work out pretty fast), it's like nothing was broken! I'm so pleased.

Now all that remains is to call the insurance company again next week (so far, we're pretty pleased with Travelers) and get our deductible back from the incompetent driver Grant's insurance policy. And I hope his rates go through the ceiling, or he gets dropped, or that his repairs cost a lot of money and he has a $2,000 deductible ... if he hadn't lied, I wouldn't be inviting the wrath of the gods to descend upon his miserable lying head.

THE NORWALK POLICE DEPARTMENT CALLED the other day to let me know about the progress of their investigation into my complaint that the cop who handled the accident was rude and did not do his job. I spoke with the Puzzled Lieutenant (I still don't know his name--he told me, but it just won't stick in my weak brain until I see it in writing). The PL told me the investigation is complete, that they determined that the lying incompetent driver asswipe was the one completely at fault as he was making an illegal pass on the right and that they will be issuing him a violation notice (what that means, I have no idea). He said he'd let me know when the accident report is ready for me (and my insurance company) to pick up.

About the complaint of rudeness, Officer Page admitted he said stuff he shouldn't have said and, PL said, has been chewed out (undergone "training" was more how he put it) about how to handle civilians ( for "civilians" read "pain-in-the-ass 40-something women who pay taxes, vote, and are good citizens and sure as hell can cause you a world of trouble") and how to investigate an accident, and what are my expectations, blah blah blah. I told the PL that I expected an apology, in writing in a letter than Officer Page has to type up himself (none of this boilerplate stuff they can spit out of the computer) plus I wanted to make sure the incompetent asswipe driver is told he did something wrong (mainly so the idiot doesn't plow into anyone else, or kill a kid, because he's too stupid to pay attention).

I figure a few more days, and I'll have both the apology and the accident report showing that the accident was in no way my fault. And I believed the Lieutenant when he said Officer Page's rudeness was an aberration--that it's not permissable behavior by any cop, mainly because this is the first time a cop had ever been rude to me or to anyone I know. When I get both, I'll write to the mayor again to tell him all's well in Blueland. (Although I never heard anything from the mayor and I should have--but that's another bone to pick once this one is cleaned off). If I actually do get the apology from Page, I think I'll scan it and post it here.
posted by lee on 01/25/03 at 12:26 AM
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P&T get it right & then my stream of conscious from there

We managed to remember to what the premiere of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! tonight. Loved it. Tonight's episode was debunking psychics who talk to the dead. I thought it was dead on (ouch), but then, it's kinda like preaching to the choir for me. I can't even believe there's this entity "out there" watching over us, let alone that there's anything but dust or ashes when we die.

Tonight they debunked Rosemary Altea--a total bullshit artist surpassed only by John Edward, with hits at James Von Praagh as well.

Too bad it's only a 30-minute show because I would've loved to have seen them go after Sonya Fitzpatrick, Pet Psychotic, I mena Psychic. What a bullshit artist she is.

Penn & Teller have a new website,, which some day I'd love to see but it keeps crashing my browser. At any rate, next week they go after alternative medicine quackology, like magnets and healing touch and, I think, reflexology. If you don't want to wait for the show, check out Quackwatch. In fact, you should check out Quackwatch any time you're thinking about trying some alternative therapy--might save you a lot of grief and/or dollars, or you might find out what you're thinking about is actually okay. Not that Stephen Barrett is always right--he blows it big time in some respects mainly because he's so medical establishmentarian (if that isn't a word, it ought to be) it narrows his vision too much. But at least you'll get the non-infomercial view to lend some balance. Then you can do join the elite by doing what so few do--yes I mean think--and draw your own conclusions.
posted by lee on 01/25/03 at 05:01 AM
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Sunday, January 26, 2003

What’s YOUR political compass heading?

"On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It's not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can't explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as 'right-wingers', yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook." So the introduction to Political Compass goes. The old left-right continuum you learned in high school (or should have) is not enough, according to the creators of Political Compass (Pace News Limited, about which Google turns up nothing, pity). It's more accurate to place political positions on a quadrant: the x-axis is the old left-right continuum and the y-axis is authoritarian at the top and libertarian at the bottom. Like so:


The authors have this to say about the chart above:
"Both an economic dimension and a social dimension are important factors for a proper poltical analysis. By adding the social dimension you can show that Stalin was an authoritarian leftiist (ie the state is more important than the individual) and that Gandhi, believing in the supreme value of each individual, is a liberal leftist. You can also put Pinochet, who was prepared to sanction mass killing for the sake of the free market, on the far right as well as in a hardcore authoritarian position. On the non-socialist side you can distinguish someone like Milton Friedman, who is anti-state for fiscal rather than social reasons, from Hitler, who wanted to make the state stronger, even if he wiped out half of humanity in the process.

"The chart also makes clear that, despite popular perceptions, the opposite of fascism is not communism but anarchism (ie liberal socialism), and that the opposite of communism ( i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) is neo-liberalism (i.e. extreme deregulated economy)"

To determine where YOU fit, they offer a test. A very crude, flawed test, but I suppose it puts you in the right quadrant? Or maybe not. At any rate, the problem with the test is that many of the terms are ambiguous. You answer the questions from "Strongly Agree" to "Strongly Disagree," with no qualifying available. There is one question, for example, "Education should involve enabling children to develop their own personality." What does this mean? It reads like a good thing at first glance, but think about it: does this means schools should focus on things like self esteem or psychological development, or does it mean NOT focusing on these things? A huge difference.

Or how about this one: "The most important lesson for all children is discipline and respect for authority." What is meant by "discipline" and what is meant by "authority?" Does discipline mean self discipline, or the discipline needed to learn, or does it mean following all the rules? Does authority mean parental and governmental authority, or does it mean respect for facts, such as authority imposed by the laws of physics or, if you're inclined this way, authority imposed by god or the gods?

One more example, then you should go take the test for yourself. "No broadcasting institutions should receive public funding." Well, what KIND of public funding? Contributions? Taxpayer dollars? Are there conditions attached to the funding and if so, could they compromise the broadcaster's independence?

While the test, and the results, are extremely interesting, the real world involves way, way too many conditions for this test to lead to a truly accurate representation of one's political compass bearing.

The other thing that bothers me about this is the lack of information about the test developers. It's a pity, since it has a LOT of potential.

By the way, I was so not surprised to find myself in the Libertarian Left quadrant. Less left than Stanley (who led me to this test), but more libertarian.
posted by lee on 01/26/03 at 06:05 PM
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Wednesday, January 29, 2003

war drums

Case for attacking Iraq still short on critical details (USA Today)

"The fact that Bush spent more than half his speech detailing his domestic agenda is hardly surprising. Traditionally, presidents use the State of the Union address to present a political wish list to deal with the nation's most pressing problems. Bush's included a $670 billion tax cut over a decade that would offer little immediate stimulus while boosting the federal deficit. More promising was a proposal to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by investing $1.2 billion for research on hydrogen-powered cars.
Both ideas focus on economic vulnerabilities. But dealing effectively with Saddam is the best stimulus Bush can offer now. The state of the union is tied closely to the president's plans for Iraq. He needs to share them more completely with the American public."

Did anyone else notice Bush's reference to killing suspected terrorists? ("We 'dealt with' ... ").

Why didn't Bush present all his evidence to us while he had the forum? Why must we get it filtered through Powell & the UN Security Council?
posted by lee on 01/29/03 at 04:55 AM
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Friday, January 31, 2003

odds and ends

PopCult Magazine: find out what REALLY happened to Hank Williams. And many other things.

Do you want to know the history of A&P? How about Kroger? Find out at Groceteria.

But I wonder what the lyrics are? Listen to whales singing at Whalesong.

Have a hankering to hear your favorite videogame tune> Go to the Video Game Music Archive. Truly the National Gallery of videogame music. Well maybe not.

And that's enough for now.
posted by lee on 01/31/03 at 05:00 AM
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more bloggy fun thangs from wander-lust

WANDER-LUST.COM added a directory feature, where one can search for blogs of interest by category. Hmm, where to list neurotwitch ... ?

I also finally decided to add the "syndicate" code feature--this will be the first test of it. I liked the MT instructions from kadyellebee--I THINK I followed the directions properly. If not, the fault is mine.
posted by lee on 01/31/03 at 10:33 PM
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