March 2 roundup

  • Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who crusades against distracted driving, worsens the problem by honking at motorists he sees using phones [WTOP via Mike Riggs, Reason] Expensive new mandate for back-up cameras in cars may be delayed until after election [Ira Stoll and more, Ann Althouse]
  • With reporter Lee Stranahan, the late Andrew Breitbart shone an investigative spotlight on the USDA’s billion-dollar settlement with lawyers representing black farmers, and there was indeed much to investigate [Big Government]
  • Substance on floor may have been own baby oil: “Oiled Stripper Loses Slip and Fall Lawsuit” [Erik Magraken; B.C., Canada; related on-the-job pole-dance injuries here and here]
  • Honeywell’s new thermostat design deserves high marks, its patent litigation maybe not so much [Farhad Manjoo, Slate]
  • Socialism takes too many evenings: @ChadwickMatlin live-tweets Park Slope Food Co-op meeting [The Awl]
  • Auto bailout a success? Really? [Mickey Kaus, Todd Zywicki, Ted Frank, Prof. Bainbridge]
  • Way to go Maryland: proud of my state for enacting law recognizing same-sex marriage, signed by Gov. O’Malley yesterday [WaPo]


  • When I see the mandate for back up cameras, I am reminded of the Eastern Airline crash in the Everglades years ago. The cause? There was a new TV camera on board that enabled the crew to verify the nose landing gear was down. They were so interested in watching the new gadget, the airplane crashed as no one was watching where they were going. Now they want to put a similar gadget in cars to observe the rear?

  • A few years ago I was test driving the new Audi A-4, and the dealer was trying to sell me on the “Prestige” package which included a backup camera. I bristled at the notion of paying for such a thing, asking who really needs a camera to back up a small sedan like this? Little did I know the government would soon decide that everyone needs it and will have to pay for it, whether they want it or not.

  • Chris, there was no camera system that I’ve heard of. However it is true the crew were preoccupied with troubleshooting a landing gear problem because they weren’t getting a green light for the nose gear and the captain accidently deactivated the autopilot when leaning forward to reach the light on the panel.

  • Hmm. Doesn’t look like my link tag worked.

  • Now they want to put a similar gadget in cars to observe the rear?

    Very likely, Chris, that there will be a link to reverse in the car- once the car is placed in a forward gear, the camera shuts off. A very simple thing to do.

    That said, anyone who will not check behind their car if they suspect someone or something is back there really doesn’t need to be driving. I resent having to pay for another new government decreed expensive device because some soccer mom in a hurry can’t be bothered to make sure Little Tot is within sight.

  • Many years ago I drove a soft drink delivery truck. Very limited vision to the rear, just the two side mirrors. Once I pulled up to a curb, put it in reverse to back into position, but wondered what happened to the VW bug that used to be behind me. He had pulled up right behind me, but I got out and looked for him, and then he moved. So, in a case like that, I would have liked a camera system. At my choice. But not in my automobile. I expect the savings of having such a thing will be far exceeded by the cost. Also, won’t they get dirty and not give an image?

  • Rear view camera’s just let you aim better

  • Haven’t read the Pigford expose but this is what I know. When the first settlement was announced, a group of con artists in Mississippi decided they’d submit applications and if any of them were successful, they’d split the money. Since there’s no honor among thieves, when one of them hit paydirt and the check was cashed, the woman to whom the check was made out complained and pressed charges which were derailed when she went missing later to be found sans head and hands. Two of the killer s went to trial and were convicted. A few months later, one of them, Kathleen Nelson, found out that her application had been approved entitling her to $50,000. All I can figure out is this is some form of reparations.

  • Ok. Just glanced at the report and saw that it starts with Kathleen Nelson. Their victim, though, was not a he. Clovis Reed was a woman. And there were more than three people involved in the scam. Another went to trial and was convicted later. Meanwhile, another body (some woman named Ebony something) was found that was connected to the same people.

  • At my apartment complex, parking is head (or tail) in.

    I drive an older Mercury Sable, not a very tall vehicle. When I go out to my car, I often find SUVs on either side of me, both with heavily tinted glass. In other words, I’m in a narrow slot surrounded by walls.

    I’m very drawn to new blind spot and reverse indicators that can tell me that something is approaching from angles invisible to me.

    That said, I would be in the market for such a device. I would not be pleased to learn that I must have it. I’d rather buy a co-equal SUV, actually, than be told what I have to do whether or not it’s “for the children [TM]”.

  • Jonathan Bailey: Eastern 401 provided the answer to the age old question, “how many pilots does it take to change a light bulb?” All of them.

    Eastern 401 may not be the best example, but it is definitely a fact that new safety technology doesn’t always make things safer. People rely on it, are not aware of its limitations, and generally act to keep risk constant at levels they find acceptable regardless. Except people to take fewer second looks, backup faster, and to be less likely to get out of their car to check what’s behind them.

  • On top of that, with the push on “distracted driving”, how long would it be before here is an outcry to ban the cameras….as a “distraction” to drivers?