Here in King County we have a rather inscrutable "advisory measure" on next Tuesday's ballot. It's basically a poll with no binding consequences on how King County voters would like to have a regional transportation package funded.
If you're as baffled by the available choices as I was, you'll want to head right over to the Cascadia Scorecard Weblog where resident Really Smart Guy, Alan Durning gives his take on the implications of the various choices.
Apologies to anyone who's seen Team America: World Police
Over on Seedlings & Sprouts, Julie talks about driving by the site where a 16-year-old girl was killed in a car crash earlier this year on Bainbridge Island. Julie points to some articles that bemoan the fact that the tragedy doesn't seem to have affected the level of self-destructive behavior in the teen community.
I grew up in a kind of island community. It wasn't surrounded by water, but the nearest town of any size was over an hour away. Not only that, the town where I lived was so sprawled that my nearest friends were three miles away, and some were as far as twenty! You couldn't be part of the teen social world in my town until you could drive or had friends who did.
I remember dozens of times riding with friends or driving them myself when we took life-threatening risks. Sliding around corners on twisty mountain roads, ignoring the center line, ignoring hundred-foot cliffs with no guardrail, ignoring ice patches, ignoring the effect of a couple of beers. It's amazing how few mishaps we actually suffered.
When I was a senior in high school, a girl I'd known since 1st grade died in a car crash on her way to school. She looked away from the road to adjust her stereo and hit another vehicle head on. I remember that morning at school hearing about the accident and being shocked that someone my own age was gone. I remember people crying and a subdued atmosphere around the school that day (and probably longer).
What I don't remember is whether we acted any differently afterwards. I sincerely doubt it.
I remember how my brain worked when I was that age (partly because I haven't matured all that much since then ;-) It's not so much that I actively thought of myself as invincible, it's more that the possibility of my mortality was completely inconceivable. I can't imagine any evidence to the contrary that would have convinced me otherwise. It's my theory that this cluelessness is hardwired in the human psyche. I think this behavior has been selected for in millions of years of evolution. You can see how the ability to act without thinking in dangerous situations would be useful to the survival of the species.
But I think there's something more insidious going on here as well. The way we talk about death-by-car (and, actually, the way we talk about all the negative effects of the automobile on our society, but that's another rant) encourage us to think of car crashes as being fault-free events. We call them "car accidents". Articles about crashes always talk about the car taking actions "the car crossed the center line", "the car struck the pedestrian" as if the car were in charge, the person behind the wheel just an unwitting accomplice. It's another layer of unreality on an already unbelievable situation. Why should I change my behavior when crashes just happen?
Here in Issaquah there have been at least four teen traffic fatalities (see the euphemisms we use to distance ourselves from these things?) in the last few months. It seems like more than usual. It makes me wonder if the current state of the world is a factor as well. Kids see terrorists spending lives recklessly for indeterminate messages. They hear about over 1000 young men and women not much older than themselves dying in a country that it turns out could not have harmed us if it wanted to. I have to wonder if their recklessness is partly bred from seeing such a rampant disregard for young life in their elders. Or is it acting out in response to the fear of how uncertain their futures must seem. "We may die tomorrow, so why worry about dying today?"
Maybe the only way we can hope to get kids to take their mortality seriously is to, as Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." If we caused our government to place a higher value on the lives of our young people, maybe they would follow suit.
One of my favorite writers and editors is in the final stages of finishing his latest novel and has taken to posting the latest draft for comment on the web.
But the really fun part is that he is auctioning off three positions in the dedication of the published novel, and two positions as cameo characters in the book. There's links to the five auctions on his blog
The text of the auction descriptions is pretty entertaining all by itself, so take a look.
The subtitle is "Choosing courage in a culture of fear." The fear is not so much the big fears like natural disasters, death and disease, or terrorist attacks, but more the little fears that are far more crippling in everyday life. The tiny unnamed fears that keep you from talking to strangers or trying a new restaurant or following a dream.
The biggest thing I've taken away from the book is something from the introduction where Jeff Perkins explains how he had come to see that in our relatively secure lives, the instinct of fear that causes us to cringe into inaction whenever we're afraid is outdated and counterproductive. He proposed a new interpretation of fear, that it means you're aproaching new territory, that you're about to learn something, that there's an opportunity to make your life richer. He said "Fear means go!"
The book elaborates on this theme, exploring the ways that people have defied their fears to attain better, more meaningful lives while making the world a better place.
It's a tiny little book with a big impact. Good stuff.
I'm trying to decide how obsessive to get about this whole lost glove thing. So far I've posted a picture of every glove I've seen since the first one back in January of 2003. Well, I decided not to post the rubber glove I saw last week.
I think it would help if I posted some non-glove pictures to mix things up a little. Maybe soon.
I've never really liked the built-in bookmark facilities in any of the browsers I've used over the years. Hierarchies just aren't very good for classifying things.
I started using another Moveable Type blog as a bookmark system. I called it Mad Hammer since my abuse of the weblog tool as a bookmark tool reminded me of the adage "When all you have is a hammer everything starts looking like a nail" and since I liked the pun on Mad Hatter. I had planned to give it a title picture showing a hammer with a tag on it saying "In this style 10/6" to complete the reference. (which reminds me that Mad Hatter Day is coming up next week). It was convenient since the bookmarklet I already use to blog a site could be used to bookmark a site, and because the bookmarks entered into it were available from any computer anywhere (in particular the three different machines I use regularly). But the category support in MT was clumsy enough that I never got around to adding all the categories I really wanted, and the support for having multiple categories on a single entry is prohibitively complex.
Anyway, I finally saw enough people using del.icio.us that I went and tried it out, and I think I've found my bookmark solution at least for now. The del.icio.us bookmarklet lets you assign any number of tags to each entry just by listing the words. You can include a comment about the link. It's easy to edit stuff once it's in there, and search it too. It's web-based so it's visible from whatever computer I'm on. Plus you can see other people's bookmarks too, including easily seeing who else has bookmarked a particular site. It's really pretty spiffy. Best of all, nobody had snagged the handle "jeffy" yet. I've added a link to my area in the link section of my main index template if you want to check up on my bookmarking activity.