Friday, February 27, 2009

Most Unfortunate Names

Here's a bit of humor to lighten up your day (in this economy, we need all we can get). The BBC recently published an article about the most unfortunate names in Britain. Some of my favorites:

  • Stan Still
  • Jo King
  • Carrie Oakey

Give it a read - it's a lot of fun.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

If Oil Is Getting Cheaper, Why Isn't Gas?

The problem with our world of fast politics and 30 second sound bites is that they make complex issues look simple.  Just look at oil prices.  The price of oil keeps dropping but the price of gas is going up.  Huh?  How is that possible?

I've heard a lot of conspiracy theories but found a far more credible article about it the other day.  The reason that gas prices are going up is because oil prices are actually going up.  It seems that the oil prices you see in the press are for one specific type of oil (West Texas Intermediate).  So while that oil price is going down, the rest of the world's oil prices are going up.

Maybe they should change to an average of oil prices...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Do The Speed Cameras Help?


There has been a lot of back and forth on whether the speed cameras are a safety measure or a revenue generator.  Most people that support cameras say they're a safety measure, most that oppose them say they're simply revenue generators.  So who's right?

In my opinion they're both right.  No one can argue that they've brought in quite a bit of revenue since they were installed.  However, there seems to be some back and forth as to whether our highways are safer since they've been installed.  The Arizona Capitol Times has an article (membership may be required) that kind of presents both sides.

First it takes the DPS statistics (from an ASU study) for the loop 101 since the speed cameras were put in:

The ASU study, officials said, showed a 58 percent reduction in side-swipe crashes, a 71 percent reduction in single-vehicle crashes and a 40 percent reduction in accident-caused injuries as a result of speed cameras.

However, the statistics reported by DPS didn't include rear-end collisions that increased as much as 55% on the Loop 101 as reported from a 2007 study.  That looks pretty bad.  It seems that there are a lot of people slamming on the brakes when they see the speed cameras.  However, the article then gives the overall statistics:

Factoring in increases in rear-end collisions, accidents on the Loop 101 in Scottsdale decreased by 54 percent during the time speed cameras were in place.

So, is it a revenue generator or a safety measure?  I think it is both.  Yes, it's generating a lot of tickets but a 54% reduction in accidents is a pretty impressive number.  Besides, the revenue generated by them will probably trend downward as people become accustomed to the cameras and start driving the speed limit.

Overall, I think I'm OK with the speed cameras as long as they're not used as an excuse for not keeping sufficient DPS and other law enforcement officers patrolling our streets.  After all, a camera isn't near the deterrent as a law enforcement officer.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gilbert Mayoral Race


Those of us who live in Gilbert have an election coming up.  While its not getting national attention and we're not being bombarded with constant TV ads, I submit that this election will have a far more direct effect on Gilbert's citizens than most others.  Why?  Because the Mayor and Town Council determine things like sales tax rates, property tax rates, how many police officers we have, how many firefighters we have, etc.   They determine things that affect us directly.

The Arizona Republic site (azcentral.com) has a section devoted to the mayoral and town council candidates.  If you are a citizen of Gilbert, I encourage you to read them and then go out and find more information on the candidates.  I, myself, have not found a favorite candidate yet (though I like Lewis and Turner and Skousen for mayor) so I'm still doing research.

This is where the rubber hits the road and where individuals have the most influence (who do you think cares more about your opinion/vote, the mayor or the president?) on their officials.  Let's take this election seriously.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Measuring Success

One of the blogs I follow is run by a man named John Halamka.  I stumbled across him from a case study I had to analyze for one of my graduate school classes.  He struck me as very intelligent and also very pragmatic (two qualities which are important to me) so I looked up his blog and have been following it for a while.

Today he blogged about measuring success.  I found it very refreshing to find somebody as successful as he is being so pragmatic about where happiness (true success) really comes from.  When people have asked me for career or education advice, I tell them to find what they enjoy doing and pursue that.  I say that because, no matter how much money you make, if you don't like your job, you will be miserable.  So find what is important in your life focus on that.  

In his blog, Halamka says that but a lot more eloquently.  Give it a read, I think you'll be impressed.

Monday, February 02, 2009

How Readable Is My Blog?

blog readability test
I found a readability test recently and thought it would be interesting to find the reading level of my blog.  I expected to get a high school or maybe undergrad level.  So I was really surprised to get genius (I actually thought it was broken - I had to check a bunch of other blogs to make sure it didn't say genius for everybody).  Does it really take a genius to understand what I'm writing?  I always thought that politics was a fairly simple topic.  You simply take a logical look at various issues and, applying all of the known variables, find a solution that best fits the...

OK, maybe it's not so simple but it is important.  What's the point of electing representatives if we have no understanding of what it is they do?  How do we hold them accountable?  We live in a complex world full of complicated problems.  Simple rhetoric and campaign slogans are not going to solve our problems.

I sincerely hope you don't have to be a genius to understand my blog or politics in general.  It is a topic that affects the lives of every American (politics that is, not my blog) and ignorance is definately NOT bliss.