12 Apr. 2007
SETI League
PriUPS Project

Scofflaw Яn't Me

Many years ago I got a parking ticket in a small town.  I don't recall whether the infraction was due to misunderstanding, accident, or desperation.  It certainly wasn't willful disobedience since I'm much too cheap to pay a fine if another few minutes of driving will abnegate its necessity.  Nonetheless, I got a ticket, and the light of day revealed that it was a legitimate one.  The light of day revealed further that it was unenforceable:  The blank in which the license plate information had been filled out was illegible.  These were the days of "carbon copies" and I called whatever office was the de facto "Parking Enforcement Bureau" to find out if they could read the ticket, ostensibly to confirm that it was issued to me or was a mistake.  They couldn't read it!

Freedom!  Gloatation!  If people pumped their hand and said "YeSSSS" in those days, I would have done just that.

Things Have Changed

With age is supposed to come wisdom.  Wisdom, however, may just be a better term for "caution."  I'd like to think that even today I would have reacted the same, but I'm not sure.  I might have paid the ticket anyway.  I've been rewarded for good civic behavior in the past.  One day I was walking down the street holding a candy wrapper in my hand while waiting to come upon a trash can.  A long block later I deposited the wrapper, and a woman came up to me and gave me a NYC subway token while making the observation that most people would have just dropped the wrapper in the street.  I might still have the token today, but I probably sold it at a discount to someone who doesn't value his hearing.  What would I get for paying a parking ticket I could escape?  Probably an astonished look by someone I will never see.  But I haven't gotten one for decades and hopefully never will.  Caution!

My License is Here!  My License is Here!

The point of all this is that when I got the letter on logical-yesterday from the Federal Blog Commission, I decided to comply with their directive.  I sent in my $25 for the blog license, and it duly arrived.  I am now free to blog to my spleen's content, and shall continue doing so.  During the hiatus I heard from many thousands of my millireaders asking me if I had quit blogging, when would I re-start, and wasn't that letter from the FBC a transparent hoax?  One gentleman, a political appointee in an office of local government, scrutinized the letter's date and noticed that it was a Sunday.  He observed, quite correctly, that no bureaucrat would ever write a letter on a Sunday, and I was forced to agree.  On the other hand, I easily can imagine one getting the date wrong on a letter, so I don't think that argument proves anything either way.  Another gentleman, with libertarian leanings and assertions of outrage, pointed out that blogging is protected by the Constitution.  One would think so, as I certainly did before receiving the letter, but the Constitution is a malleable document, and the only thing protecting me from a lifetime of writing in Europe is the Supreme Court's distinction between "speech" and "blog," two concepts that these Justices are not guaranteed to find equivalent.

So, gathering caution unto myself from the very winds into which it has been deposited by so many others, I sent in my application and received my license.  I actually received it over a week ago, and have only now gotten around to posting this blogitem, for which delay I apologize.  It's been a hectic few weeks in many respects, due to a never-wanted but nonetheless inevitable and not-unexpected event, with the attendant guests and activities.  I also used my non-blogging time to read a "book." 

Now that I have my license I will start posting blog items again.  But the enforced hiatus made me realize that I had become too compulsive about posting items every single day, at just before midnight.  Who knowsmaybe some day I will want to go to sleep early!  So I propose to post new items from time to time, and at whatever time suits my fancy.  For this reason, I encourage regular readers to use the "RSS" link in the upper left to "subscribe."  (If you haven't done this before, it's pretty harmless.  Your web browser checks my RSS file every so often and tells you when there is something new.)  Irregular readers should feel free to just keep clicking "Yesterday," which henceforth will act as "logical Yesterday."  There's no special requirement to ignore these items in the order in which they were posted.

The Best $25 I've Ever Spent

Those who have speculated that the whole Federal Blog Commission bit is some kind of hoax may well be correct.  But why take chances, and how else can you get a nice vacation for $25?  I'm not complaining!

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut became unstuck from life today.  Unlike Joe, who was a passionate anti-smoker and died from lung cancer, Vonnegut suffered a fall and died from brain damage at age 84.  He was a heavy smoker all his life.  Both would have appreciated the irony, if not either consequence.  As much as I loved Vonnegut's novels, one thing he said about himself has always been my favorite.  In his (published) response to an angry letter from a reader, he went on about how he was not deserving of personal abuse, and mentioned this:  "I'm good with tools."

So it goes.

NP:  "See It Like a Baby" - Marillion, whose new album "Somewhere Else" is just out this week.

Richard Factor

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