NEBRASKA DRIVING ETIQUETTE
I just read a funny piece from BBC on American Driving Etiquette
So, I thought I'd do my own "Nebraska Driving Etiquette":
Normal American driving rules apply, with only a couple of exceptions.
1. It is never necessary to use your steering wheel, as the roads are almost completely straight.
2. It is almost
never necessary to apply the brakes, except in the event of a flooded roadway or sudden, unbelievably huge flock of enormous birds.
This is where the rules are different...
1. Speed Limit signs are merely an attempt at "keeping up appearances" - Nebraskans wouldn't want the rest of the world to think they were uncivilized. The posted limits are 65mph on rural, 2-lane highways, and 75mph on divided highways. However, 95mph or greater is understood to be a more realistic speed.
2. You MUST wave to all oncoming drivers. With both cars travelling 95mph+, you don't have much time, so stay alert. To do this properly, drive with your right hand (only) on top of the steering wheel. When a car approaches, raise your index finger (only) if you do not know the person driving the car. If you recognize the person in the oncoming car, raise all four fingers until the car has passed.
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! More important than turn signals or head lights. Failure to wave will mark you as "not from these parts" - which is inviting all sorts of trouble.
3. The horn is never to be used, for any purpose, ever.
(Except, of course, if the Nebraska football team has won a game - but then ALL rules are suspended)
4. Cattle drives have the right of way.
Regardless of the make, model, year, and color of your vehicle - and despite the fact that you're travelling at 95mph - you MUST stop for the cattle to cross the road. The same is true for anyone on horseback.
Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
-- James Madison (1788)
It's been reported that the United States is developing a program called TIPS (Terrorism Information and Prevention System) that will recruit 1 million Americans to become secret informants for the government - American Citizen Spies. Who will they be? Your neighbor? Your mother? Your grandson?
According to the article, this will be a larger covert system of informants than the former East Germany's infamous Stasi
. The pilot program is set to launch in the 10 largest U.S. cities, with 1,000,000 informants participating in the first stage. This would equal 1 in every 24 citizens.
The program will be under the jurisdiction of FEMA, which was granted broad powers during the Reagan administration, including the power of internment. With the recent passage of the Patriot Act,
which allows for a person's home to be searched without disclosure to them that the search took place or that any surveillance devices were planted, the implications are clear. Our freedom is threatened, again. And the potentials for abuse are countless.
You can read about the program on the government web site, Citizen Corps
Read the article, with descriptions of the frightening implications, here
Quoting the article: "Historically, informant systems have been the tools of non-democratic states. According to a 1992 report by Harvard University's Project on Justice, the accuracy of informant reports is problematic, with some informants having embellished the truth, and others suspected of having fabricated their reports."
Read about the Stasi
for a historical perspective on citizen informant programs.If men use their liberty in such a way as to surrender their liberty, are they thereafter any the less slaves? If people by a plebiscite elect a man despot over them, do they remain free because the despotism was of their own making?
-- Herbert Spencer (1884)
Well, our leader was not elected. But our freedoms are being stripped away nonetheless. And as much as we're being told otherwise, WE ARE NOT AT WAR.
Many of us are too young to remember World War II. I know I am. But I know what a war is. In WWII our entire nation had to mobilize its resources to fight a real threat to our freedom, our country, and our lives. This is not the case today - not even close.
In WWII, the fate of the world
was in the balance. Dubya's "War On Terrorism" does not
compare. We are being duped.
We are NOT at war!Freedom cannot be trifled with. You cannot surrender it for security unless in a state of war, and then you must guard carefully the methods of so doing.
-- Arthur Hays Sulzberger (1952)
Our freedom is being trifled with - in the name of security - and I don't think the methods of doing so are guarded at all.
Frightening. Be aware.
In Ambling Into History
, Frank Bruni writes, among other things, that our president has never heard of Leonardo DiCaprio
I can forgive him for not knowing who Leonardo DiCaprio
is. Hell, I wish I
didn't know who he was.
And good 'ol Dubya, he's a world leader. He doesn't need to keep track of such fluff as teen idols and Hollywood heart-throbs. I would rather that he keep his mind on leading the country, keeping up with world affairs, our foreign policy.
more important stuff for Dubya to know. Like, the fact that there are Blacks in Brazil
Yeah, I can forgive him for not knowing who Leonardo DiCaprio is... but I've got to draw the line somewhere.
Not knowing if there are Blacks in Brazil displays a level of ignorance about the world that is totally unacceptable for a world leader.
At least, I would have thought so.
How did this guy get elected? Oh, wait -- he didn't!
Now I remember!
"Don't blame me, I voted with the majority" - Bumper Sticker
Nothing much today. Just a couple of thoughts. The first is mine. The second is from the Tao Teh King.
1. The worst enemy of liberty is the man who believes he is doing God's work.
2. The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
the less self-reliant people will be.
Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
and people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good,
and the good becomes common as grass.Tao Teh King
(Chapter 57, Stephen Mitchell translation.)
Another day. How predictable.
And I feel like absolute crud
. It's not my fault. It's all the bourbon I drank last night.
Today is July 4th. Happy Birthday Dad! It's amazingly not
foggy here. Which means the annual tradition of watching the fireworks shoot into the fog and wondering what they look like may not happen this year. We'll just have to watch them in full visibility, like average Americans, I guess.Are you a good Googler?
I was sad to hear of the demise of Salon.com
, but just stopped by the site, and it seems to be still up, with fresh content and everything. For some reason, this article
sent me into a morbid giggle.
Feeling blue? Well, I've got just the thing
Well, Happy 4th - don't go to Wal-Mart!
My mom visited me last week, spending nine days in our luxurious, spacious
guest nook. She returned to Nebraska Monday morning, and I'm now on day 2 of exhaustion. I may write more on her visit later. But don't count on it.
While she was here, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (just 3 blocks away, on 7th and Mission) declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. Upon learning of this, my immediate reaction was that this was good news. Mom's immediate reaction was that it most certainly was not
Naturally, the decision sparked a furor of debate and condemnation. (Not between my mom and me!! Though I don't know why her immediate reaction was unfavorable, nor do I know whether it was immediately thoughtfully unfavorable or immediately thoughtlessly unfavorable... maybe it's a generational thing. But how interesting, if it is generational. "Under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, ten years after my mom was born. And it was not added as a declaration of faith, but as a means to distance our nation from those (godless) communist nations that were so scary back then. Anyway, it certainly is no longer applicable. Not to mention, it goes against our American ideology - that our nation is not monotheistic, and our freedom of religion includes freedom from religion as well. So here we have a good case for upholding tradition. Let's go back to the traditional Pledge of Allegiance, and get rid of this new, modern, anti-Communist one!)
But back to my point, which was? Oh yeah, condemnation and furor... commentators, editorialists, talk show hosts, and even the president have condemned the decision and criticzed the father and daughter (who brought the original lawsuit) as being thin-skinned, overly-sensitive, and whiny.
But also in the news this week is the story
of a high school senior in Alabama who was beaten for refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of the school day. Students claimed that his refusal to recite the pledge somehow rendered them unable to recite it as well. NOW who is being thin-skinned, overly-sensitive, and whiny?
And the question is, can the government force a person to stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance?
Well, the government forces us to pay taxes. And with our tax money, the government is paying for his schooling.
So, yes. I suppose the government can
force a person to stand up and declare allegiance to the state.
But such governments are authoritarian. Such governments do not hold themselves constitutionally responsible to the people, or individuals, but instead enforce blind submission to authority.
Do we not pay taxes to preserve our democracy? To keep our country running, to maintain our infrastructure, and yes, to fight wars... but is it not to preserve the democracy? That's what our president keeps saying...
Or is that just a bunch of lip service, when we actually find our personal freedoms at issue?
Is dissent, including (and especially) when unpopular and individual, not also a form of preserving the democracy?