Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Death Penalty Again

I see this subject is back. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel has ruled that California's current procedure for lethal injection is so flawed that he'll declare it unconstitutional in 30 days if the state doesn't fix it. One problem, of course, is that the current method requires considerable medical expertise to administer, but no doctor in the state wants to have anything to do with it.

This was also Florida's problem, from the description I read of the recent botched execution there - the one that has caused Governor Jeb Bush, not normally a beacon of mercy and compassion, to suspend all elections in the state.

When the subject first came up last February, I posted a suggestion, which I still feel is sound, that we should quit pussyfooting around with lethal injections, and go back to the first and still most efficient method of humane execution ever invented: the guillotine. In further support of this argument, I'll point out that the guillotine can easily be operated by unskilled labor and no medical training is needed. Just a mop and a hose. Even Florida should have no trouble with it, as the guillotine also has no electrical connections. Given Florida's record with execution procedures, however, they should probably arrange for spotters, to make sure the executioner cuts off the correct head...

It's probably too much to suggest that we should just stop executing people. No, no - we can't do that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Modest Proposal for Global Warming

One of the problems with global warming is all the CO2 from cars, especially cars idling in traffic. I had a brainstorm the other day: I'm sure this will be a good idea. We should eliminate cars inside cities and use only public transit and horses. Yes, horses. OK, donkeys and mules too. Horses are generally pleasant creatures (unless ill-used), they go by themselves, they produce new horses at regular intervals with only vegetable inputs, and while they exhale carbon dioxide just as we do, they certainly don't put out as much as an idling SUV. And they use zero fossil fuels.

But they're slow, you say. Um, so is most city traffic. Would we really go that much more slowly on or behind a horse than we do in a traffic jam now? Look at how the bicycles whizz past you when you're stuck. Besides, we move too fast these days. Going more slowly would be good for us. We could still use cars on the freeway for long distances, where they get better mileage. I freely admit horses aren't so good for long distance travel.

What about the road apples? People welcomed cars as a solution to pollution in the last century because cars don't poop in the street. There's the brilliant idea. The streets were full of horse poop in the 19th century because it was waste; nobody could think of a use for it except fertilizer, and farmers had their own supply. Some farms are now taking their manure dumps and processing them to extract methane which they burn for heat and power. With today's technology, it could conceivably be profitable to pay for recycled horse manure to feed into a power generation plant. Once people know they will be paid for it, they'll pick it up; look at what they do with cans and bottles. Homes could have their own small co-generation plants, for the local horse's poop; it's another way to go off the grid.

Energy independence through horse manure! It's the wave of the future.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's been years since I allowed myself to boggle at advertising. I mean, you expect it to be weird, right? But a recent campaign by the agency for the California Milk Processor Board has gone beyond the weird.

The idea, you see, was that everybody likes milk and cookies. So, in order to make people want to go home and drink milk, the agency got permission to put scratch-and-sniff strips that smell like chocolate chip cookies, in bus shelters in San Francisco, so the people waiting for the bus would smell the lovely aroma and go home and get some milk.

OK, I like milk, and I like cookies; but what I see when I step on the scale makes me just a little reluctant to stuff my face with either of them. And, if I'm standing in a bus shelter, I'm not there to eat (except in extreme circumstances). I'm there to catch a fardling bus, or worst case to get out of the rain for a minute. I can and do ignore printed ads, but smells are much harder to ignore. (Which of course is why they tried this.) Also, I'm an asthmatic, and I'm sensitive to strong perfumes, so I dislike smells that other people impose on me. (I actually dislike almost everything that other people impose on me; let's don't even begin on those rolling boom boxes...) It's one thing to say that it smells like chocolate chip cookies; but if the smell isn't coming from actual cookies, then it's coming from some combination of chemicals, and who knows what allergic reactions they might cause.

The real issue with these smelly bus shelters is that the smell isn't there naturally, as in a local Mrs. Field's. It's being imposed artificially by the ad agency to make you want something; and that, folks, in a space where you go out of necessity, is too much. Not to mention that bus shelters in San Francisco are often occupied by homeless or merely poor people, who may not be able to afford either cookies or milk; and for them, it's not just an imposition; it's an insult.

I'm happy to say that the City of San Francisco has ordered the scented strips removed, after getting objections from people with chemical sensitivities. But it was a dumb idea, guys. Let's stick to cute posters. The city got some flack, in a blog on the site, about the fact that they were removing cookie scented strips from local bus shelters which normally smell like urinals. Well, if I could remove that smell too, I would. Imagine the awfulness of a urine scented bus stop which also had the chocolate chip cookie strip; yikes.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

New Look

Yes, I changed the look. I liked the old template but had gotten a little tired of it. This one appealed to me as appearing calming - I've always found harbors and bays and water's edges soothing. And it doesn't have the blaze of colors some of the templates have.

It's the same blogger, though. Still me.

Hope I will continue to hear from you all.