Powered by TypePad

« Alcee Hastings - Now They Tell Us | Main | Mission Accomplished At The Times »

November 09, 2006



The possibilities of this kind of forward thinking are endless. What about naked deep frying?


I generally avoid recipes calling for that, clarice. ;-)


Or just strap babies to the outside of cars.

We could use the extra babies that are born due to the caution people exhibit if they don't have birth control on hand.


Here in Anchorage, Alaska we experimented last year with a European style round-a-bout. Instead of a traffic light holding up traffic at the bottom of a highway off ramp, we put in one of those British circular things posted only with yield signs, and you just cautiously slide on out and start doing donuts til you see daylight toward whatever direction you're heading for and floor it. So far it seems to be working pretty well, but we only have about 300,000 people in the state with cars. Bullwinkle appears to be a better traffic safety system up here than babies or naked deep fryers. We kill a few hundred moose on the highway every year, and then the Highway Patrol calls a lottery number, and if you're listed, they call you up and you get first dibs on hustling down to the carcass and salvaging whatever's salvagable of the roadkill. The rest usually winds up at the Zoo, where frozen moose legs I'm told are jokingly refered to as "Bear Popsicles."

And if I might mention election stuff. Former Miss Wasilla Beauty contest winner, Sara Palin, beat 2 time former Dem Governor Tony Knolls for Governor, so though she may not have much experience, I can proudly say to the JOM crowd, that my Governor is better looking than your Governor.


We just need cars that drive themselves.


It just strikes us as a stupid suggestion because it removes an obvious safety device we are used to. In reality, as botulism, e-coli etc, increase, the refusal to irradiate food is equally nonsensical.

Maybe when the lost food totals billions and the number of deaths really rise,someone will realize the policy is idiotic and lacks any scientific basis.


Unsafe at any screed.


Here in Anchorage, Alaska we experimented last year with a European style round-a-bout
I liked those better when they were called 'New Jersey Traffic Circles from Hell.'

New Jersey got rid of them about 6 years ago when Democrats were in charge. I refuse believe we live in a world where Democrats do anything wrong.



I'm a huge fan of traffic circles. I enjoy driving in Europe because traffic flows more smoothly and gridlock is far less common.

At UC Davis, the bike paths have traffic circles. Aside from a rash of accidents each August (brings a new understanding of "freshman orientation"), it's remarkably easy to get around.

The other alternative, stop signs, drive me batty. Here in STL, there are stop signs at almost every residential intersection. They are widely ignored ("a white border means it's optional...." Feh!)

R C Dean

The good professor is actually observing a well-known phenomenon that goes under the rather confusing moniker of "moral hazard."

It has long been known that people compensate, and often over-compensate, for safety devices.

"Child-proof" caps, for example, are not, but they induced many people to leave medicine bottles where kids can get at them. Result? Accidental poisoning has not decreased.


Sam Peltzman noted the tendency for safer cars to actually increase the number of accidents, negating much of the increased safety, more than thirty years ago.

Patrick R. Sullivan

'One analyst suggested, partly in jest, that the ultimate safety feature would be something else entirely - an eight inch steel bayonet fixed in the steering column and aimed directly at the driver's heart.'

From Semi-Daily Journal we get three claims for that. Steve Landsburg, Gordon Tulloch, and DeLong's 13 year old.


Ah, but think of the oldsters who duie because their pharmacy accidently sent them their meds in child proof bottles which their arthritic hands cannot open.


I'm a fan of traffic circles, too. My rural town, like most towns around here, has one at the center of town where the two main streets meet. It's been here for at least 100 years. When we first moved here I was too chicken to drive on it, although one of my London colleagues insisted that they were safer. After living here 8 years, I've come to agree. At least for relatively low-traffic intersections, it is way safer than a stoplight. There are no left turns (other than the counterclockwise motion around the circle) and so there are no people turning in front of oncoming traffic. The rules are that the traffic on the circle has the right of way over traffic merging on or off.

I have a bird's-eye view on our roundabout because my office windows overlook it. I have seen some pretty amazing things -- twice we've seen people driving in the wrong direction around the circle! But these are mostly caused by people causing near accidents by unexpectedly stopping when they have the right of way. And it's not real safe for pedestrians, either -- there are crosswalks, but it's not like a stoplight or stop sign where cars have to stop and look for pedestrians before proceeding. You really have to dodge traffic because they won't think about stopping for you until they've already run you down. It's a lot like crossing a busy street, but the advantage is that it's a busy one-way street.

I can see that this might not work nearly as well when traffic is significantly heavier. But it's certainly way better than a 4-way stop sign. When I am in the situation where I am trying to turn left from a side street onto a busy street, on many occasions I have given up on the left turn after a minute or two of waiting, turned right, gone down to the circle, made the 360 around, and headed off in the way I wanted to go, all much faster, safer and less nerve-wracking than trying to make the left turn.

My London buddies have tried to explain the concept of "double roundabout" to me, but I've never been able to get my brain around that one yet. That whole recoil-in-horror thingy -- it's distracting!

David Pinto

I believe in Europe the traffic in the circle must yield to traffic entering the circle. This prevents backups on the streets leading into the circle. We have a number of circles in Massachusetts, and that's my biggest complaint about them, it's tough to get in.


..."but the advantage is that it's a busy one-way street."

Except for those bloody 'merican tourists who instinctually look the wrong way for traffic.

Nearly lost my better half at Hyde Park Corner...


Yes, the compensation principle is clearly
supported by the national traffic data.

From 1966 to 2004 the fatility rate fell
from 5.50 to 1.44 per 1,000 vechicle mile.

From 50.20 to 22.44 per 1,000 drivers.

from 53.18 to 17.20 per 1,000 registered car.

Despite the increase in miles driven over the last quarter century the actual number of people killed or injured in auto accidents has fallen steadily and significantly over this period.

But I would not want a few facts to confuse your attitude towards improved auto saqfety.


I like the round-a-bout idea, but would prefer it if the would try elevating one route over the other at intersections. It's pretty expensive, but would allow traffic to keep moving.

Tom Maguire

But I would not want a few facts to confuse your attitude towards improved auto saqfety.

Gee, that snark would be especially compelling if (a) I had not provided a link to a researcher who had not sugested exactly that, and (b) if I had suggested that the safety improvements are *fully* consumed.

But I would not want your lack of nuance in reading compreshenion to interfere with your sense of superiority.

Crunchy Frog

Clarice - the pharmacies are merely looking after the health of the Social Security and Medicare "trust funds". Best to get the old fogies off the public dole, you know.



"It works well because it is dangerous, which is exactly what we want. But it shifts the emphasis away from the Government taking the risk, to the driver being responsible for his or her own risk."

I think this is great. Europe would be a lot better off if more people suggested more ways in which the citizens might be forced to make their own decisions and benefit from or suffer the consequences, instead of the government working out every last detail for them. America too.

Garry McMinds

"One analyst suggested, partly in jest, that the ultimate safety feature would be something else entirely - an eight inch steel bayonet fixed in the steering column and aimed directly at the driver's heart."
GM a head of it's time! '50's Cadillac's (at least one model) had a plastic cone mounted on the center of the steering wheel, pointed at the driver. That's how Sammy Davis, Jr. lost an eye.

The comments to this entry are closed.