28 September 2013

More Stupidity From TV Writers: How Not To Handle A Kidnapping.

I just witnessed a TV program where an FBI agent's wife is kidnapped.  The hostage-taker does this to get the agent to help him secure a great art treasure, in the possession of two thieves the agent knows.  The agent pressures the two art thieves to help him get his wife back, and they don't take too much convincing because they like the wife and they really have hearts of gold.  Did I tell you this treasure is worth a half billion dollars and was found on a booby-trapped U-boat?

21 September 2013

The Die Guys Scenario

I have likely seen the following hostage scenario a thousand times during my life of movie and TV viewing:  I call it the DYGOISS, (pronounced die guys) which stands for "drop your gun or I'll shoot scenario".  A bad guy has a gun to the head of a loved one, and is partially hidden behind her so the good guy has to make a dicey head shot, or drop his weapon.

And the Good Guy disarms.  Every time.  He lays his gun down on the floor and even slides it over to the villain... and somehow it all works out for the best...in the make-believe world of Hollywood.  Oh the good guy may have to suffer a non-lethal wound, like Arnold in Kindergarten Cop, but he still manages to defeat the evildoer and survive and heal and get the girl and live happily ever after.

13 September 2013

Everything You Know Is Wrong: Celldriving Is Not Dangerous

Everybody knows that talking on a cell phone while driving is unsafe, right?  It's just common sense.  Everybody knows it.  

You then have to ask how "everbody" comes to know something?  It's on the nightly news and in the papers and legislators are urged to do something about it; pass a law.  Eleven out of the fifty United States have ourlawed cell use while driving.  Pundits and commentators and activists raise our awareness.

But if driving and cellphoning is so dangerous, why have traffic accidents and fatalities fallen as cell phone usage zoomed?

This was an obvious question not addressed by over one hundred previous studies.  Then a couple of wonks from Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics got together to answer that question.   V.S. Pathania and S. Bhargava, in their new study, show that there is no causal link between fatal crashes and gabbing via handheld communicators while operating a motor vehicle.

You can read the whole thing in the American Economic Journal ( Aug. 1, 2013).  It's titled, "Driving under the (Cellular) Influence."  But why would you want to.  I actually tried to read it, but gave up after ten minutes and just went to the summary

I've often wondered why cops don't get distracted while driving and talking on the radio with the dispatcher.   

Texting may be another matter.  Or reading the newspaper while on the freeway.  I saw a man doing that, once.  Rush Limbaugh said he actually saw a woman trying to put on pantyhose while driving on a California throughway.  But then she might just have been creeping along at three MPH.

What's the strangest thing you've ever seen a driver in another car doing while in motion?

05 September 2013

Zimmerman: Part Three, Advice For Watchful Neighborhooders.

Mr. George Zimmerman was not on neighborhood watch duty the night he killed Trayvon Martin. He was driving to the market and saw the youth behaving suspiciously and followed him in his car and lost him and then got out to re-acquire the suspect on foot.  The rest is history.

Some say he shouldn't have followed the youth.  Some say he shouldn't have exited his vehicle. Some say he should have just left it up to the police.

I'm certain that Mr. Zimmerman, looking back, would have done things differently.  But I reject the idea put forth by one side that checking out suspicious behavior in your neighborhood is a bad thing.  There must be a way to be a concerned neighbor without putting yourself or others in danger. 

What this comes down to is both sides misunderstanding the other person's motives.  Martin thought the man following him was a stalker.  Zimmerman thought Martin was casing the neighborhood for a burglary.