three for the road
26 June 2007, 8:02 PM
Your Humble Blogger is once again on the verge of changing residences. Not moving far, this time. Just a few blocks. Still, it’s a lot of work. And there’s the Youngest Member to be dandled. As a result, blogging will likely be sparse around these parts for a few weeks. Or not, depending on how things go. The telephone company has assured me that I can just unplug my computer here and plug it in there, and there will be none of this business of spending three weeks on the phone with them trying to find out why we have no internet. We’ll see.
Anyway, here are a couple of things I noticed recently.
- In yesterday morning’s TPM Election Central Morning Roundup, Eric Kleefeld and T. W. Farnam note that Rudy Giuliani “never had his second marriage annulled by the church — instead, he is divorced.” Either this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of annulment, or it shows a rather thorough and cynical understanding of it. Annulment is not just a Catholic form of divorce. Catholics do not believe in divorce. Annulment is the statement that the marriage never was valid to begin with, and to get an annulment, the influential politician is supposed to be required to come up with some sort of reason for that. It can be pretty specious, and there has been a lot of rather unpleasant publicity about that. Which, admittedly, was drowned out by some other, rather more unpleasant publicity for the Catholic Church. Still. It’s an issue. Ask Joe Kennedy.
- It’s interesting to read Emily Yoffe’s op-ed Gloom and Doom in A Sunny Day in yesterday’s Washington Post as a study in rhetoric. It’s rather impressive. I think, having waded through it more than once, that the purpose is solely to portray environmental activists as flaky. They are scared of nice days! They think weather forecasts are accurate! They are flooding us with Inconvenient Truth merchandise! They are scaring the 9-year-olds! They think humans are the enemy! Of course, there’s no actual argument in the piece, but then there doesn’t need to be any argument. There’s identification: We like to eat outside; They hate nice weather! We protect children from bad news; They frighten children! So who are you going to trust, us or them?
- So, you know how Google Maps and other directions-giving programs don’t always have in their vast storehouse of information all the restrictions that might be in place, such as whether a particular road has low clearance? And if, say, a chartered bus driver were to chose a route through a rural area, say, western Connecticut based on such software, he might discover signs indicating low clearance at a point where turning around and going another way would add an hour onto the trip? If such a driver even knew how to go the other way, because you can’t really click on a bridge and choose bridge out, choose another way. So a driver in such a position whose bus was, oh, say, about eleven feet tall might get to a bridge that was rated at 10’8” and, let’s see, just, well, just go right through, right? At that might well happen twice in a month, yes?
You know, it’s interesting that all those programs are essentially private, proprietary programs. The roads are public roads, but there isn’t a public database that has all that information. I wonder how they do it in Europe. I would be inclined, myself, to have the federal government collect data (such as Clearance 10FT 8IN) that the local municipalities and counties surely already have, and aggregate it for public use. On the other hand, it’s a big country, and it would cost tens of millions of dollars (at least) just to aggregate the information. And it wouldn’t all be accurate, because databases are like that, particularly when people are entering information part-time from all over. Also, is there some way that Google (or its competitors) could get that information cheaply and easily? My Best Reader suggested it’s a case for the Mechanical Turk, where some local person would chime in for a small reward, but I can’t quite figure out how it would work.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,