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Chinese English

I am usually pretty good at deciphering the strange English translations one finds in the instructions supplied with electronics from Asia, but one of the “warnings” included with an alarm clock I just got is still baffling me.

Warning: Where the mains plug is used as the disconnect device, the disconnect device shall remain readily operable.

I’ve read that through 6 or 7 times, and I still have absolutely no clue what they’re trying to warn me about.  The clock does have a battery, so the clock will keep running after you unplug it, but is that really something they would warn me about?  We even looked at the Spanish version, and it seems to say exactly the same thing:

Advertencia: Cuando se utilice el tomacorríente principal como dispositivo de desconexión, dicho dispositivo debe permanecer completamente disponible.

Congratulations to these folks for stumping me.

Posted in Diary.

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War on Drugs?

One of my partners has a great idea to save this country a lot of money.

The government could set up kiosks in the major metropolitan areas and give away cocaine, heroine, and methamphetamine, for free.  In one fell swoop, you would eliminate 95% or more of the property crime in the country, since addicts would no longer have to steal in order to support their habits.  You could redirect the resources of the DEA to more useful tasks.  The addiction problem would solve itself pretty quickly by attrition, since those who could not stop themselves would leave the gene pool.

In the long run, and probably in the short run as well, this would be one heck of a lot cheaper than the “war on drugs” we’ve been fighting for decades.  It’s almost too bad the idea doesn’t stand a chance.

Posted in Observation.

Smoking is Doomed

Several recent letter writers have moaned about Oregon’s proposed ban on smoking in private vehicles, decrying it as an infringement on their civil rights. Although the Bush administration did manage to erode many of our civil rights, this case is different.

The fact is that, sooner or later, the sale and possibly even the use of cigarettes will be illegal. This is inevitable.  Those who deny it have not been paying attention.

Those who try to draw a parallel between a tobacco ban and the failure of prohibition overlook one very important difference. It is quite possible to enjoy alcohol safely, in moderation, with no danger to yourself or to others. The same cannot be said of tobacco.  As the tobacco companies are obligated by law to remind us, “there is no safe cigarette”. Every cigarette you smoke, from your first to your last, is doing damage to your body and the bodies of those around you, with no positive benefits to you or to society.

So far, the limits have been implemented bit by bit, but there WILL be a complete ban sooner or later. Personally, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already.

Posted in Opinion.

Post-Consumer Age?

I heard a report on the radio this morning suggesting that the drop in purchasing and consumer confidence brought on by fear over the economic crisis might actually be triggering a transition to a “post-consumer age”, in which consumerism ceases to be the single most important function of our society.  I find that to be profound.

For at least the last 100 years, greed has been the primary motivating force behind society in America.  Calvin Coolidge told us “the business of America is business.” We are told to go to college to increase our earning potential.  We are bombarded by advertisements of every kind, to a degree not remotely conceivable a century ago.  We are told that deflation, a reduction in prices caused by lack of demand, is fundamentally bad for society.  The stock market, a financial establishment essentially indistinguishable from an Atlantic City casino, has become the benchmark for societal health.

What would a “post-consumer age” be like?  Would people actually go to college to improve themselves?  Would people migrate to volunteerism and public service?

Posted in Opinion.

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KGW Studio on the Square

I see that KGW TV has now opened their Studio on the Square, where they are broadcasting their morning news and a couple of other shows from Pioneer Courthouse Square.  I’m a little confused by this.

They have made a big PR deal about this, but why should I care from where there programs originate?  It’s just a studio.  Further, I’m wondering why the city allowed this deal to begin with.  Wouldn’t that space have been more productively used for a gift shop, or a visitor’s center?

Maybe I’m just too grumpy.

Posted in Opinion.

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