The Environmental Defense Fund website has some myth-busting facts about idling. Did you know idling for ten seconds burns more gas than restarting your car? Or that diesel engines produce more than 40 hazardous air pollutants? And that sitting in a cloud of your own exhaust with the heater on is really lousy for your health?
I’ve noticed a string of egregious idlers lately. The first was a young woman tapping away at her iPhone in a posh SUV in a shopping center parking lot. Temperatures were mild, so it’s not like she was braving the elements or anything; it was just internal combustion for internal combustion’s sake, I guess. The following day, I witnessed a pickup truck belching putrid exhaust for at least 20 minutes outside a convenience store. In this case, it was cold out, and a woman was waiting in the truck for her companion in the store, but seriously. Go inside and warm yourself by the spinning hot dogs or something! Then, while staying at a motel out of town, I observed a tractor trailer idling in an empty lot from dusk until the next morning. It was cold and snowy, and my guess was that the truck driver opted to sleep in the truck with the heat on — spent fuel be damned! — instead of paying for a motel room. Which is frankly pretty sad, but also alarming if you’re not a fan of global warming or particulate matter in the air you breathe.
After this cartoon was published, someone involved in the production of a documentary about idling in NYC contacted me — it turns out “Idle Threat” is the name of their film. You can watch the trailer here.
Conventional wisdom seems to be that the financial difficulties of the Post Office are due to the rise of email. The Postmaster General noted this himself as he announced the end of Saturday delivery. But to only look at competition from email is to miss the larger ideological picture — namely, that privatizing USPS has been a goal of market absolutists for decades. The real “crisis” faced by the PO is the absurd requirement, set by Republicans in Congress, that the agency fund retiree benefits for the next 75 years — paying for future employees who haven’t even been born yet! This article on Alternet provides an overview of how the service is under attack. Never mind that the Postal Service isn’t taxpayer-funded; privatizing it is still part of the Cato Institute’s agenda. It seems obvious to me that replacing USPS with a patchwork of private mail delivery companies would be an unmitigated clusterf#ck. Believe it or not, the private sector is not always the most efficient (see: health insurance).
I’ve actually been to the Kroger supermarket in Charlottesville where a 22 year-old man made national news by waltzing through the store with an AR-15. He has since been banned from the premises. I mean, really. If I see some random person with an assault weapon in a public place, I’m not waiting around to find out what their intentions are.
Related article here. I use both Facebook and Instagram with the awareness that my data is being mined in probably unimaginable ways, but asking for driver’s licenses (or birth certificates!) is a bridge too far. Especially for people who use a pen name or stage name for professional reasons, or reasons of personal security.