Wednesday, October 30, 2013

At It



To my devoted readers, thanks for stopping by!

As you can see by my last post's date, Father Time hopscotched while I wasn’t paying attention, the complete bastard.  But that’s good!  Well, unless you're a terminal case, in which case I offer my sincerest apology.

Certainly, there’s been plenty in the news to bitch about:  Lying, conniving politicians, Big Brother (NSA), disasters, wars, technology, economy, broken promises, bombings of innocent little girls, shootings of heroic educators, disease, famine, crap music, and, well, the list is endless.  To balance, as most things do in life, there is an equal amount of laudable optimism:  Malala, particle physics, a senior woman swimming the Florida straits, rescues, miraculous feats of survival, a hopeful Pope, new cures on the horizon, Rush finnaly making the Rock Hall of Fame, and so on.  Life.  Something I too have enjoyed lately.

What I’m trying to state is that I’ve been busy.  For a good reason, too—research!  Yes, that’s right.  D2 is back in full swing, and I’m happy to say it.

So, stand by—be patient.  It’s okay to feel shafted a little longer.  It’s only been four years, you know!  Emily languished too, and you know she’s not one for waiting.

More soon,

~T

Oh, forgot to plug...  If you read any of my books, please don't forget to leave a review on the site you used.  Thanks!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

“Why Go Backwards?”


That is a quote from a national electronics chain store manager I received a couple days ago.  I wonder if I made the right decision.  I wonder…

TS Andrea, while mostly benign with regard to Florida coastal damage, carried an incredible lightning count.  Tampa Bay is renowned for its annual strikes and is unofficially titled as the “Lightning Capital of the U.S.”  Our local hockey team even endears the moniker.  You know where this is headed, right?  Mention of and electronics store…lightning….  Yep, I became a victim of Andrea’s clandestine wickedness, oh, but I blame it on irony.

In short, smarty me decided that it’s best to have a full cell phone charge in case of power loss.  Without additional thought, I plugged it in and went back to work.  The storm’s inner bands made landfall shortly afterward.  Gusty downpours, street flooding, and a few brownouts later, Andrea made her way to the Jacksonville exit.  Sunshine at last!  A couple hours passed and I realized things were uncomfortably clichĂ©’… as in “quiet…a little too quiet.”

Dread 

What have we become when a replaceable bit of electronics creates a profound sense of loss?  I shudder, albeit slightly, at the thought of such dependency, but nonetheless the creeping mist of depravation settled in with the effect of a winter flu.  Recent pictures, video, contacts, and other files that normally get the backup sync treatment—once I finally reminded myself by internal shouting (“Hey!  You know what happens to others that don’t backup!”)—all lost.  At least missing for a few seconds until my noggin sent a secondary reminder—the logical/sensible response from that part of the brain—informing me that I was actually conscious enough to use external memory chips to store everything.  Oh!  Okay, but the phone’s still dead.

Disassembling and inspecting for obvious electrical torture, recharging (again, even though it never responded to the plug), internal vacuum, battery change, attempted reset hacking, even a series of CPR (Cell Phone Resu..oh, never mind; I gave it a vigorous pounding in case something was shorted).  Flatline.  Only one recourse remained:  Off to the dealer (gulp).  So I went with the foreknowledge that unless the salesman somehow knew a common hack for such a problem, the specter of a costly replacement lay in waiting.  Additional insult to injury, our contract was only one month from completion.  Of course, this blog wouldn’t exist if he fixed it, right?

The Real Problem

 I experienced this epiphany before with cable TV.  Contract and equipment re-ups are usually the impetus for a complete reassessment.  What do we really need?  And so, without any cognizant consideration, I go reminiscing the technically-spartan ‘80s, lamenting all these newfangled subscription costs in the tone of Jeff Dunham’s Walter to a Radio Shack manager who’s an obvious twenty-something hipster.  Yes, Red Foreman’s trademark “dumbass” echoed in somewhere in my cranial recesses, probably from the same part that previously reminded me that MicroSD cards were no dream.  That didn’t stop me. 

“I used to get along just fine with a $15-a-month land line.”  That’s when the now infamous response occurred.  “But sir, why go backwards?  Look what we can do now; GPS and…”  I interrupted him on the GPS pitch.  Yes, GPS rocks but seriously, I was brilliant (toot toot!) with maps and a little extra diligence if needed.  Addresses were easy and I didn’t get lost—I had a pilot’s license for Christ’s sake!  Maps?  Backwards?  How about driver distraction and infamous GPS errors?  How about knowing where you’re going before you get in the driver’s seat?  How about looking outside your car, pal?  Oops, there I go again.  I can’t blame the manager for his perspective; his generation matured(?) with the Info Era.  Anything less than the latest, for the most part, is the reverse gear—a step towards the impoverished third world—and nothing “retro” about it.  I stood at the counter and thought about my next two years under contract.  A business owner and his tools, the family and its needs, the affordability.  I surrendered, the coward, but not before tendering my most revealing argument about this whole idea of costly subscriptions.

$200 per month for my family’s cell plan.  $2,400 a year…extra.  I dreamed of smugly walking away from the manager’s counter, “pocketing” that money for a family vacation.  I researched this, in fact!  For two grand, the wife and I can hop on a jet to San Juan, Puerto Rico, spend the night on the beach, then board an RCL ship for an 8-day cruise of the southern Caribbean.  Why the Sam Hill am I giving something like that up—every year, mind you— for a freakin’ cell phone?  Yes, I had to ask Mr. Hip Manager his opinion, citing this example.  He glanced up at me, chuckled briefly to entertain my ego, then dropped back down to his incoming texts and kept typing.  Priorities.  His comment stuck with me, however.  “Why go backward?”

Ten years ago I felt confidently in charge by bravely cutting my land line for a full-time $35/month cell phone.  Now?  Coward?  Conformist?  Sheep?  or…is it truly progress?  There goes my little neural collective again.  It’s somewhere off the coast of Antigua screaming, “Fool!”



The Deen Divide

Like you, I’ve seen the Paula Deen headlines and been subjected to the media’s tribunal ad nauseum.  From my observations, the reduction goes something like this:  A elderly white woman of impoverished southern Georgia descent, once (or a few times) decades ago used the word “nigger”, now famously while having a gun pointed to her head during a bank robbery.  She may have used it a few times in her youth as well.  This revelation occurred from deposition she gave as part of a racial and sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by a white former employee of Paula’s Savannah, GA “Lady and Sons” restaurant.  You know the rest of this:  Her products at Walmart, Smithfield Foods, Target, Kmart, QVC, JC Penny, Sears, Home Depot, her Food Network TV show, and even her latest best-pre-selling book—her rags-to-riches empire—all “lost” in the avalanche.  So, why then is the larger percentage of the American population crying foul?

Context, context, context!  All right, there is more at work here than meets the eye, and I firmly believe the American public isn’t quite as dumb as the last decade’s politics indicate.  First, the utter hypocrisy surrounding the word itself.

With a few exceptions, you can visit any one of those stores and find the N-word in some form, likely hidden behind an explicit warning within the lyrics of countless music CDs, or perhaps as part of the script of a movie.  Heck, I went from seeing Paula crying on some talk show to hearing Cab Calloway say it on The Blues Brothers via HBO not a minute later.  The fact is, many of these companies actually profit from artists using that word—and not 30 years ago; we’re talking right now, today!  I hear it regularly in the casual conversations of youth:  In line for a Slurpee at the 7-11, on front of me at the theater, in passing at the mall.  I hear it everywhere!  After all the work Martin Luther King, Jr. slaved to overcome racism and stereotypes, the pepper-of-the-earth types wantonly throw it all away …on a word.  Unless it’s in a Mel Brooks movie, I cringe almost every time I hear it, especially when used to describe Brazilian nuts.  It’s just not funny to me.  Suffice to say, I also hear “cracker”, “redneck”, “honkey” and other un-PC slang with frequency.  Why don’t those bother me?  Perhaps I should lighten up, but the double standard in racism needs to leap into the cauldron of Mt. Doom.  Part of that long road to true equality, perhaps.  We’re not in a circle until there are no sides.  Now back to these pious-looking retailer giants.

The Other Word: Profit

You think that dumping Paula Deen’s product lines, endorsements, TV shows and other branded avenues are purely on ethical grounds?  Brother, get your checkbook out; I’ve got some Florida mountain property you’ve gotta see!  Convicted felon Martha Stewart, anyone?

It has been widely reported that Deen’s ratings been floundering of late.  Likely, her lucrative endorsement contracts are costing profits.  Until the controversy, presales for her latest cookbook were also underwhelming.  While I don’t don the tinfoil hat, citing Deen’s case as a PR agency’s bad girl epithet, one must wonder the ulterior motives.  Paula will undoubtedly rise in her proofing (sorry, can’t help myself), and it seems prudent to me that most of these companies simply blended an opportunity to renegotiate a great discount down the road.  “Here Paula, we forgive you.  Come back home to (X).”  Riiiight.  About that land for sale…

Disclaimer

Visited Lady and Son’s last December.  Mostly marketing branded wares, mostly unremarkable food, BUT, the chicken pot pie was worth a few joyous expletives—definitely recommended. 



Screwed II

You might recall a recurring subject in this blog.  Cars.  I have a problem with some manufacturers, and I believe that Americans are not getting a fair shake.  In previous posts, my issue concerned fuel consumption comparisons.  Evidence seems to suggest that European car manufacturers not only provide more engine choices to their international car models, the “same” engines offered in the States somehow lose a statistically significant amount of fuel economy.  Now I fully understand when a foreign company, either by tariffs or some other cost or logistical barrier, cannot offer all of its products here, but a domestic manufacturer providing foreign countries with significantly increased offers than its own seems downright treasonous!
  
Has anyone noticed the rapidly increasing signals that, despite all the patriotic slogans and cavalcade of laudable statistics, America is rapidly descending from global prominence?  Don’t confuse prominence with dominance, however; this thought regards our ingrained perception that Americans either make or have access to the latest and best products at all times.  It isn’t true, sadly.  We don’t get the latest cell phones and other electronics for months after they’ve debuted in Asia or Europe, we can’t drink Germany’s best beers, and we don’t even have access to cars our domestic companies manufacture overseas.  Bollocks!

Having been car shopping once again, my latest gripe has to do with GM.  If you read my prior blog posts, you know I’m a patron.  Lately, I wonder if my loyalty is misplaced.  You see, I kind of expect that an American company would treat its own country better that others.  Instead, I discovered that GM evidently likes other countries better.  What happened?  Okay, let me provide some specifics:
It’s well known that certain models simply don’t play well here in the States, or that used to be the case.  Fiat 500, Smart, Mini and other successful brands have been able to maintain a foothold here.  Perhaps the size/power stigma is (as in the 1970s) a myth.  Ford recently brought over Europe’s wildly-popular Transit Connect, and, no thanks to all my grumbles, Chevrolet is finally offering a few car models with diesel alternatives.  It’s a step in the right direction, but only a token gesture.

It’s About Choices

With the global manufacturing machine in place as it is today, I simply can’t fathom what barriers exist that curtail our choices as compared to say, Australia.  With regard to America and certain products, I hear this excuse often, “There’s not enough market for it.”  Really?  Hmmm.  Let’s get down to the particular case and see what you think.

Most importantly, I wish to buy American.  Creating jobs for my fellow countrymen seems the virtuous thing to do, let alone availability and savings in eventual parts and maintenance.  And let’s say I’m in the market for a compact or medium sized vehicle; a daily commuter with better practicality than the average sedan.  I need cargo space more than passenger seats, but it’s nice to have versatility.  Furthermore, I need astounding numbers on fuel consumption.  Gasoline prices likely won’t plummet to pre-Bush pricing anytime soon, and I’m not willing to squander any potential savings in that department for upfront cost.  Do car makers believe we’re stupid enough to think that a 20% annual fuel savings is worth a 20% premium price up front?  Of course!  My educated guess is they have data to support that Americans are indeed stupid enough to pay that premium.  <insert PT Barnum/Hannum quote>  Tisk.  I must assume then, that Australia’s population, which is only 7% of ours, somehow rates not one but three different models of Holden Cruze (their Chevrolet) with four engine choices each. 

So, GM, what your telling me is that despite the population difference, Australia somehow generates more demand for hatchbacks and wagons?  Americans must not be practical or something?  Yikes.  Think I’ll drive across the street for a Slurpee and worry about this later. 




Tuesday, May 7, 2013

And The Winner Is...



Every once and a while I catch a carefully coordinated legislative misdirection, a sleight-of-hand—a political event or series that either yawns on cursory review or confounds to the point of mental exhaustion.  I many cases, I believe the yawning and the confounding to be the journalistic goal.  There are three examples of late that bring me to the blogging desk:  internet sales taxation, American foreign policy, and on perhaps a tangential front, petroleum pricing.  There is an obvious common thread to these and other issues, and I get to that later. 

The Internet Sales Tax

Did anyone notice that our beloved US Senate passed a bill mandating the collection of taxes for sales over the internet?  Too focused on missing girls, printed guns, and the latest sex scandals?  Well, it happened, and it’s currently sitting on the desk of the House.  Obama is reportedly for it, too.  This is great news for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers who’ve struggled to remain competitive with nimbler e-tailers such as Amazon and several thousand other virtual storefronts.  But is it good for us?  I’m not here to hash the accolades of either policy.  As a former retailer, I’ve been on both sides of that argument and quickly learned that, as with all things in life, adapt or die.  For me, the real question becomes, “Who’s the winner here?”

Well, it’s certainly not the consumer.  At least, not for the short-term outlook should the bill reach Obama’s office.  In the end, we’ll all be paying more to revenue-addicted governments.  It’s a win for them, and a win for retail behemoths such as Wal-Mart, Sears, Macy’s, Best Buy, and sooo many others.  But wait, I thought government policy is supposed to represent the needs of the people?  Obvious Clue #1. 

Foreign Policy

We ignore this on a daily basis, and I am also guilty.  Except, I don’t ignore it completely; American foreign policy matters become gunpowder grains in an internal hourglass.  Common questions emerge:  Why do we coddle communist China while maintaining an obviously failed embargo with communist Cuba?  Something to gain?  Something to lose?  My guess is that a few corn syrup consortiums and a banana producer or two might prefer the status quo.  Really?  The rest of the world seemingly has no trouble at all with Cuba, and I don’t see the US threatening Canada or the UK with sanctions either.  Is our policy a matter of principle or something else entirely?

Now to the Middle East...

Someone please tell me who we, as freedom-loving Americans, are supposed to be rooting for in the Syrian civil war?  As far as I can tell, it all started when Arab Spring demonstrations grew violent, with President al-Assad ultimately campaigning to kill his dissenters.  While the US rightly condemns that policy, those protesters happen to be aligned with forces we also don’t care too much about.  Al-Qaeda fighters are well known as aligned with the rebel Syrian National Coalition, which as it happens, has recently been cited as violating humanitarian law by utilizing sarin gas—the same chemical weapon the al-Assad is accused of using.  The rebels also wish to seek a religiously intolerant Islamic state.  So the US is thinking of arming them?  Someone help me here; I’m a little lost.  While I empathize with all the human suffering in the region, I’m not quite catching a concrete foreign policy angle.  The only possible winners seem to be arms manufacturers.  Obvious Clue #2.

Gas..er…Petroleum

I made an offhanded comment to my wife just the other day.  “Look, gas is below $3.20.  I bet something happens soon.”  And without much waiting, Israel bombs Syria—formally entering that conflict and most assuredly giving OPEC and Wall Street their timely excuse for a speculative 20% bump.  I’m no tinfoil hatter, but after a couple dozen of these spikes, the modus becomes quite obvious…doesn’t it?  Obvious Clue #...okay, you get the picture.

And so the commonalities between the above lamentations become self-evident.  We have no recourse but to continue voting our conscience and pocketbooks.  I will continue shopping the best products and the best price, backed by the best service.  I will vote against all those who favored a tax increase of any kind.  I will pray for freedom to return in Cuba and other shunned countries.  I will avoid cheap Chinese products that have reasonable American alternatives, and I will vote against any legislator that openly condones feeding the Middle East after midnight.  That’s my win—my conscience.


BOOKS, ETC…

Thanks again to all those that downloaded DUST.  Hope you enjoy the read!  For those of you interested but missed that free download opportunity, you’ll get another chance Memorial Weekend (later this month). 

TRIVIA!

That's right; I'm creating a new section dedicated to my books' trivia.  Some may entail fun facts about certain passages, others will reveal hidden meanings, homage, or blatantly arcane references.

Let's start with one from DUST:

In the first chapter, "Awakening,"  Chris comments, “I bet you wouldn’t eat anything named Curly.”  He believes it's a bad idea to name anything you're eventually going to eat. 

A friend’s mother once owned a cow named Curly.  They had a rough time with the slaughter.  “Tastes funny.” ...and that was the last Stooge reference of the evening. 

Writing Update:

Still writing.

Life Update:

Still living.

Happiness Index:

Jivin’!


More Soon,

//T


Thursday, March 21, 2013

FIVE DAY GIVEAWAY - START THE ADVENTURE!

Download DUST 2nd EDITION e-book FREE at AMAZON
Friday, March 22nd through Tuesday, March 26th 2013

No reader?  No problem.  Download the Kindle reading application for your computer, tablet, smartphone, and other devices by clicking HERE.  

Thanks for reading!  More soon....
~T

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Super License


**Author’s Note:  I fully intended to publish a non-fiction book entitled SPEED WAS A FACTOR as the complete argument for what occurs below.  My foreseeable future, however, does not include enough calendar vacancy to allow it.  “The Idea” should be circulated, however, not hoarded; it is simply too important.  At least, I think so.

Death as a Bottom Line

You may have noticed my vitriolic tendencies towards the media’s misplaced sensationalisms regarding death and injury statistics.  To paraphrase a Star Trek adage, the death of a few outweighs the deaths of the many.  Not that one person’s death is any less important than another’s, no matter how it happened.  Death and injury (we’re talking minor scrapes to quadriplegia here) are bottom lines, and, what matters to most of us, I would prefer to hope, is if they were preventable.

Take for instance yearly averages for U.S. deaths, 2000-2010:

  • Firearm Homicides:  11,828 (source: cdc.gov) 
  • Airplane Crashes: 614 (source: ntsb.gov  *excludes 9/11) 
  • Motor Vehicle Wrecks: 36,488 (source: nhtsa.gov) 
  • Cancer:  560,453 (source: cdc.gov) 
  • Medical Malpractice: 139,000 (sources: iom.edu & oig.hhs.gov)
Firearm Homicides, there’s a good one.  The convenience store clerk, metro cabbie, or humdrum domestic violence cases barely gain mentions as bylines in the Local section of your town’s newspaper.  Kill a cop, a fireman, a politician, a soldier, or worse (and yes, I have to mention it), a classroom full of Jedi younglings, and the news media whips The Machine into action.  Endless on-site reports, badgering for a new legislative agenda, politicians scrambling for do-gooder face-time on camera, and social networks abuzz with endless text-to-graphic opinions, usually sarcastic.  All of this typically bemoaning a singular act that was largely unpredictable and unpreventable.  The only things these acts are, because they occur with less frequency, are shocking.

Remember, I’m depicting death as a bottom line.  After you’re gone, the cause of death doesn’t matter; people will be angry, people will mourn and suffer, people with eventually take a retrospective and decide whether to forget the why or how, moving on with their lives.  If a percentage of these people actually remain engaged, they might possibly be interested in prevention, and this is currently where my heart resides.  Why?  Honestly, if I had answers to all the world’s ills you’d regularly see my mug on television.  I haven’t the slightest clue to cure malignant neoplasms, or correct the behavior of every errant medical professional, let alone possessing the power to deactivate the world’s triggers (secretly working on this in my lair beneath the Vatican…shhh!).  I do, however, believe that air safety is the beacon example-setter, and that there are advantages to be gained in Cargaea.

Speed Was a Factor

Speaking of sarcasm, I intended to use my book title as a cheeky past-tense insinuation.  Some of my preliminary diligence on the subject of vehicle related deaths revealed that speed was typically not the underlying cause for crashes.  Most emanated from some form of distraction combined with lack of experience and education in defensive maneuvers.  More controversially, one may argue that a speeder is actually paying more attention to their driving environs than: A) Out-of-town businessmen with their GPS-locked eyes, B) Moms with football (or fĂștbol) matches ongoing in the backs of their minivans, C) Every kid on the planet with a smartphone.  Yes, I totally stereotyped the demographics.  If I wrote anything close to "MapQuested vixens...", they'd have my rocks in a sling!  Hopefully, you get my point.  Speed contributes to the severity of damage, not so much the cause.  And please, for God’s sake, do not twist the above statement as some maligned endorsement for speeding!  There is this little matter called THE LAW, and that’s what I’m on about.

Has anyone besides me taken a forensic look at their entire driving life and decided that, with the exception of a few token advances in technology and safety, we—the general public, that is—haven’t really advanced much?  As far as I can tell, we aren’t getting anywhere faster, and we really aren’t getting there much safer either.  Okay, some in the media have been touting less death and injury lately, but correlate that with general economic conditions combined with the price of gasoline, and you’ll quickly determine that less driving equals less death.  Duh!  Sorry, that was a teenager moment.  Here’s a real-world solution:

Battle Lines

My research also determined four main fronts to enhance driving as we currently know it.  Vehicle Technology, Roadway Engineering, Driver Training, and Laws.  Let’s take a quick look at each:

Vehicle design has indeed improved dramatically over the years.  Comforts and control have received marked improvements.  Airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, navigation, crumple zones…there are so many.  If we are so concerned with our own safety, however, why not follow the ultimate in safety-conscious—race cars!  Fire suits, helmets, roll cages.  Ah, too cumbersome to be sure, and unsightly.  I wouldn’t be caught dead in a fire suit.  Especially one with manufacturer’s endorsements.  How about you?  The same goes for helmets.  You can complain about your hair if you wish; I’m bald and it leaves lines.  Roll cages?  Someone explain this to me: Our cars use purposely-collapsible bodies to cushion impacts, whereas NASCAR utilizes fully rigid cages to prevent just that—collapses.  Don’t lecture me about entering your car through its window, damn it; tell me about your safety!  Cars, on the whole, are manufactured according to consumer needs.  It’s a gargantuan business for a profit, adjusting to only what’s needed at the moment.  Don’t expect a Chris Christie news conference any time soon complaining about Republican funding for vehicle design.  Cars didn’t kill anyone on the Jersey shore. 

What about our roads?  Well, I’ve noticed them getting wider over the years to accommodate more traffic.  More use of asphalt instead of concrete too.  I don’t believe they’ve become any more efficient at getting us from Point A to Point B, however.  Okay, one exception: roundabouts.  Thank you, Europe.  We’ll trade you a right on red…or left if you’re nationally-inclined.  I think the only real contribution anyone could make with regard to roadway engineering is solving that nasty little problem called “stopping”.  How much energy and time is lost on the brake pedal?  Again, don’t expect a national outcry.  President Eisenhower’s interstate project was the U.S.’s last great endeavor.  Transportation infrastructure will undoubtedly become a forefront issue once passenger technology demands an upgrade.

Driver Training and Laws.  Now here are two codependent areas where the possibility for wholesale changes exist.  To become a licensed driver in the USA, citizens typically begin training at the age of 15.  Once citizenship is established, to begin this process, all that’s required is passing a laughable physical examination and an arguably skeletal multiple-choice exam.  The “physical” is a cursory glance by the government clerk, and a simple vision test to make sure you’re not completely blind.  In many instances, stating medical requirements for corrective lenses is optional so long as you pass an easy eye exam.  20/40 with a 100-degree field of vision are commonly acceptable parameters.  Interestingly, 20/70 vision is allowable to drive during the day in many states.  There are no tests that I’ve seen to measure one’s abilities with regard to reaction times and physical strength for emergency handling.  Multiple-choice tests, by their very nature, allow those with cloudy memories, or worse, the completely uneducated, a shot at correct answers.  It’s fair to say a percentage of drivers exist on today’s roads out of sheer luck.  To me, that’s plainly unacceptable no matter how small the percentage.  Yet, to be in control of a deadly vehicle on our highways, one only has to be physically “able” kid with a modicum of fortuity and access to one brave, licensed adult to supervise you.  One year later, you don’t even need the adult.  We’ve been doing it this way for around 100 years, and going by crash statistics, we haven’t gotten much better at it.  This, my friends, is the area that we have the power to change—easily, painlessly, and with far-reaching benefits.  I’ll get to The Idea in a moment, but one thing bears a mention first.

Google Thinks We’re Too Stupid

No, I don’t think that’s Google’s premise for their quest in driverless cars, but it’s a macrothought with troublesome consequences.  Let’s leave aside the obvious growing pains that will undoubtedly associate the new technology.  There will be may wrecks, surely.  It’s the deemphasizing of highly-trained drivers that I find disquieting.  I mentioned aviation earlier.  What have they been up to?

It may send your spine tingling to know that most of the actual piloting in today’s aircraft has been computer-automated for many years.  I don’t mean the age-old autopilot for altitude and level flight; I mean automated take-offs and landings.  The amount of physical pilot interaction has decreased as the years march.  If Google or other companies succeed in selling its automated systems, so too shall our own driving interaction.  The difference being, there are currently no initiatives for increased driver training.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), on the other hand, maintains vigilance in pilot training and techniques.  By the FAA’s apparent accountability standards, all air disasters are unacceptable.  Why not then are car wrecks equally unacceptable by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration?  I want to believe they feel that the National Daily Highway Travesty is just as unacceptable as any jet crash, and that they are simply overwhelmed with an impossible task.  Only, I don’t feel the situation’s impossible.   

The Idea

Cut to the chase…  What would it take for car insurance companies to cut their premiums in half?  Along with marked improvements in driver safety and a new industry’s creation, those are my goals—the triple win.  In essence, here is what I propose:

An all-new license class:  The Super License

Benefits: 

  • Increased safety: Less death and injury 
  •  Reduced medical needs and costs as result 
  •  Increased privileges:  Some reasonable increases in available speeds on certain designated roadways
  • Vastly reduced insurance costs to offset upfront cost of training and licensure
  • Tax breaks and other incentives for school startups and participating insurance carriers
 How to Get (assumes already licensed):
  • Graduated Age/License Structure:
o   17-20: Super Training (one examination for period)
o   21-25: Super Young Adult (one examination for period)
o   25-45: Super Adult (exam every 5 years)
o   45-60: Super Mature Adult (exam every 3 years)
o   60+: Super Senior (exam every 2 years)

  • 40-hour Academic program:  Classroom and Range
    • Each bracket has distinct physical and academic test requirements to maintain status:
o   Physical:
§  Vision
§  Hearing
§  Tactile
§  Strength
§  Reaction Time
o   Academic:
§  Comprehensive written and oral exams including:
·         Multiple choice, fill in the blank, and stated.
§  Demonstrative physical driving test with rigid field examiner:
·         Advanced course maneuvering skills in a variety of conditions: dry, wet, ice/snow.
·         Obedience of traffic marking, conditions and signage in real world (15 minute drive with examiner on streets and highway)
  • Costs in school tuition and licensing not to exceed half (50%) of typical yearly insurance premium for each individual. 

The Argument

First and foremost, keep in mind that absolutely nothing changes for those happy in their current license and insurance programs.  The Idea creates an entirely new class.
While I envision a wealth of political correctness in The Idea, all benefits included, undoubtedly there are the dark, real-world barriers trolling underneath.  Reality says insurance company executives will automatically raise shields to any utterance of less cash flowing into their coffers.  My angle to them would be:  That’s true, but how much less would be going out?  And, how are you going to handle damage control once the public latches on to this concept?  Buckle up, Mr. Gekko; I’m offering this idea to increase your bottom line and your public image.  Insurers are the gatekeepers to any policy change.  Without the expense benefit, there is no real public incentive.

Speaking of the public, would they actually go for it?  I fully believe they would.  Perhaps no stampede at first, but once savings appear annually to the tune of several hundred dollars, combined with the likely inferiority-motivation psychology, I think most people will eventually see the light.  We can’t solely rely on our good consciouses else The Idea would have hatched long ago.  Sadly, we’ve already experienced school buses full of those little younglings slaughtered on our roads.  It happens with such regular occurrence, we’ve become numb to it.

What Now?

Any budding legislators with no cause to champion?  I’ve outlined the characters and the plot.  Give me an ending!  The story won’t be over without one, and I’ve got another to write.

 More Soon...

~T

T. Nelson Taylor | Official Site | DusT | Bolita