Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Buckle Up, and Don't Speed, Drink, Toke, or Text

Car accidents, and related deaths and injuries are way up, according to the latest data from the National Safety Council, who estimates that 40,000 Americans were killed in vehicle crashes in 2016. This is a 6% increase over 2015, and a 14% increase over 2014; what they called "the most dramatic two-year escalation since 1964," before seat belts became standard equipment in 1968. Further estimates said 4.6 million people were injured seriously enough to require medical attention, and total costs were $432 billion.

The National Safety Council says texting while driving is among the causes:
  • Leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
  • Causes nearly 330,000 injuries each year.
  • Causes one out of every four accidents.
  • Is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
  • Takes a driver's attention away for about five seconds, the time it takes to travel the length of a football field.
Be safe. Don't endanger others. Your text, reply or post can wait.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Chicxulub and Politics

Vineyard Haven, MA ~ September 6, 2016

During last year's U.S. presidential election campaign, I spotted a bumper sticker about a giant meteor on the rear bumper of a pickup truck. It carried an apocalyptic message: "Just end it already."

This nihilistic sarcasm about an "extinction level event" being a better option than Trump or Clinton was also on Twitter where it boasted its candidate was the only one "with a plan that's guaranteed to defeat ISIS."

Giant Meteor 2016 from jonah oskow on Vimeo.

For those interested in the real thing, the ongoing research into the 110-mile-wide Chicxulub crater in the Gulf of Mexico, formed 66 million years ago, is a good place to start. See The New York Times: Drilling into the Chicxulub Crater, Ground Zero of the Dinosaur Extinction.

Detlev van Ravenswaay ~ Science Source

I'm not ready to "Make America a Crater Again," but do appreciate the doomsday humor, including this cartoon from this week's issue of The New Yorker.

Will McPhail ~ The New Yorker

Monday, January 30, 2017

Lion in Winter

William West ~ Agence France-Presse

What a match, what a victory, and what grace. And, as Jason Gay at The Wall Street Journal put it: Thank you, Roger Federer. Thank you, Rafael Nadal.

"There are no draws, but if there was going to be one, I would have been very happy to accept a draw tonight and share it with Rafa."

P.S. If you haven't read David Foster Wallace's sublime 2006 essay about Federer, and his epic matches with Nadal, treat yourself: Roger Federer as Religious Experience, courtesy of The New York Times.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Tale of Two Covers

 . . . and inaugurations. Media bias? Nah.

The New Yorker ~ Drew Friedman
The New Yorker ~ Barry Blitt

To The New Yorker's credit, they published an even-handed look at the rationale for Trumpism, titled Intellectuals for Trump. Authored by Kalefa Sanneh, it's about a conservative blogger whose nom de plume is Publius Decius Mus.

An excerpt:

Charles Kesler, a political-science professor at Claremont McKenna and editor of the Claremont Review of Books, calls Trump's election "a liberating moment for conservatism, an overdue repudiation of conservative elites and orthodoxy." The irony is that the modern conservative movement cohered, in the 1960s and 70s, as a rebellion against a Republican establishment that it considered out of touch. Now, according to a small but possibly prescient band of pro-Trump intellectuals, it is happening again. They suspect that Trump, despite his self-evident indiscipline, may prove a popular and consequential President, defying his critics - many of them conservative. They think Trumpism exists, and that it could endure as something more substantive than a political slur.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2016's Word of the Year

The American Dialect Society met last week to vote on 2016's word of the year.

Their decision? The two-word term dumpster fire, defined as "an exceedingly disastrous or chaotic situation."

According to the ADS, "The expression came to be used metaphorically, a rough equivalent of train wreck, chiefly on sports radio, before being circulated in wider use as a highly negative term for such events as the 2016 election season."

Were "safe spaces," "trigger warnings," and "fake news" runners up?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Death and Our Culture of Celebrity

It's been difficult to comport with the contrasting headlines and images in the news.

A record 762 murders and 4,368 shootings in Chicago in 2016. More than New York City and Los Angeles combined.

Audry Miller, Andrew Holmes

Contrast that with the surfeit of social media keening and Warhol-inspired idolatry for celebrities.

The 2017 Chicago and celebrity death counts have already begun. Chicago's ahead.

Chris Barker
Chris Barker
The New Yorker ~ Emily Flake
Michael Ramirez