Archive for February, 2010

Seatbelt Sting by Happy Harry Homeless

A friend of mine is a police officer for the city of Maplewood and yesterday Rubén Rosario of the St. Paul Pioneer Press called him out. The attention grabbing headline was: Cops’ Seat-Belt Sting Did The Job. But Was It Right?

Turns out Pablo was pretending to be a beggar, or as Rubén would have it, Happy Harry Homeless. Rubén goes on to describe one of the victims of this sting operation, a sympathetic “recent college graduate,” Blake Elfstrom, whose girlfriend was in the passenger seat and not wearing her seatbelt. The ticket will cost her $108.

state-mandated $25 fine for a first-time offender, plus the $75 the law allows as a petty-misdemeanor surcharge fee — repeat after me: this is not a tax, it’s a fee — that goes into the state general fund. The remaining $8 — repeat again: it’s not a tax, it’s a fee — goes to fund law libraries.

So, it’s the state’s fault for this intrusive law, right? Halfway through the article, Rubén taps out:

Now don’t get me wrong. I buckle up. Always have. It’s plain common sense to me.

One recent study concluded 40 lives could be saved annually in Minnesota as a result of the new law. Another study concluded that medical bills of injured beltless motorists were 94 percent higher than belted folks injured in crashes. The study estimated $190 million in insurance costs would be saved in a decade if seat-belt compliance in the state increased to 94 percent.

So, Rubén would appear to be indignant with the police tactics, but supports the law they’re enforcing.

But, there is a happy ending. Because Paul Bartz is a great guy with a sense of humor, which apparently Rubén picks up on, and describes a different sign Paul was using: “Unemployed ice dancer: please help.” It’s unclear which sign generated the most money but in the end Paul cleared $93 for just 3.5 hours of work!

The total, including the value of a Cub Foods gift certificate, was $93. (Bartz) threw in another $7 to round it up to $100. The $100 was donated to the North St. Paul food shelf, where it will help feed those in need.

Narcissus Pining for His Own Image

Roger Cohen has an interesting perspective on the healthcare debate. He writes that we’re all so wrapped up in our own lives, what he calls “frenzied individualism,” that we can’t come together to accomplish what is in our own best interests, namely fixing healthcare. He points us to Alain Ehrenberg, a French author and psychologist, whose new book “The Malaise Society” (with apologies to President Carter) makes the case that Western culture is afflicted by a narcissistic neurosis.

He quotes a friend of his who makes the most succinct argument for a public option that I’ve heard yet:

When it comes to health it makes sense to involve government, which is accountable to the people, rather than corporations, which are accountable to shareholders.

Narcissus by Caravaggio

Angry SCUBA’d Norwegians Chase After Google Street View Car


I’ve seen the inadvertent cameo appearance on Google Street View, but this is hilarious. Apparently, these guys in Bergen were actually waiting for the Google car to come by. What is also funny is the Google Translation of the Norwegian article describing these guys:

Originial Norwegian text:

Hvem jager Google med lystergaffel? Klikker man seg inn på adressen kan man først se to dykkere som sitter i hver sin solstol, helt avslappet i veikanten.

Google Translate text:

Who chases Google with desires fork? Mon, click into the address, one can only see two divers who sit in their own sun, chilling by the wayside.

“Chilling by the wayside” in SCUBA gear waiting for the Google Street View car. I love it!


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