Sunday, December 11, 2005

The French you will have always

A sampling of the deliciousness over at First Things. You really should read the whole thing, it's just delightful.

Be nice to the French, they feel so very misunderstood. That is kindly advice, and you should get started on it tomorrow. Meanwhile a friend sends a sampler of observations to be enjoyed before going on the wagon:

“France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. France has usually been governed by prostitutes.”
—Mark Twain
“Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion.”
—Norman Schwartzkopf
“Only thing worse than a Frenchman is a Frenchman who lives in Canada.”
—Ted Nugent

“The favorite bumper sticker in Washington now is one that says ‘First Iraq, then France.’”
—Tom Brokaw
“It is important to remember that the French have always been there when they needed us.”
—Alan Kent
“Somebody was telling me about the French Army rifle that was being advertised on eBay the other day—the description was, ‘Never shot. Dropped once.’”
—Rep. Roy Blunt (MO)
The AP and UPI reported that the French government announced after the London bombings that it has raised its terror alert level from Run to Hide. The only two higher levels in France are Surrender and Collaborate. The rise in the alert level was precipitated by a recent fire which destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively disabling their military.

French Ban Fireworks at Euro Disney (AP)
Paris, March 5, 2003
The French government announced today that it is imposing a ban on the use of fireworks at Euro Disney. The decision comes the day after a nightly fireworks display at the park, located just 30 miles outside of Paris, caused the soldiers at a nearby French Army garrison to surrender to a group of Czech tourists.

Adding to Mr. Nugent's remarks, the only thing worse than a Quebecois is one driving a truck in the U.S.. When a reefer blows by me doing 20 over the limit, tailgating, and making lane changes apparently without mirror use it is almost always a member of the Oppressed French minority .


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (translated into English by Yermolai Solzhfnitsyn) Bring God back into Politics
Hat tip to Brothers Judd

It is up to us to stop seeing Progress (which cannot be stopped by anyone or anything) as a stream of unlimited blessings, and to view it rather as a gift from on high, sent down for an extremely intricate trial of our free will.

The gifts of the telephone and the television, for instance, when used without moderation, have fragmented the wholeness of our time, jerking us from the natural flow of our life. The gift of lengthened life expectancy has, as one of its consequences, made the elder generation into a burden for its children, while dooming the former to a lingering loneliness, to abandonment in old age by loved ones, and to an irreparable rift from the joy of passing on their experience to the young.

Horizontal ties between people are being severed as well. With all the seeming effervescence of political and social life, alienation and apathy toward others have grow stronger in human relations. Consumed in their pursuit of material interests, people find only an overwhelming loneliness. (It is this that gave rise to the howl of existentialism.) We must not simply lose ourselves in the mechanical flow of Progress, but strive to harness it in the interests of the human spirit; not to become the mere playthings of Progress, but rather to seek or expand ways of directing its might toward the perpetration of good.

Progress was understood to be a shining and unswerving vector, but it turned out to be a complex and twisted curve, which has once more brought us back to the very same eternal questions which had loomed in earlier times, except that then facing these questions was easier for a less distracted, less disconnected mankind.

The human soul , or if you prefer the human animal, is still vexed by the same torments in the 21st Century as the 17th, only we now have more ways to distract ourselves from reality. Of course a lifetime passes all too quickly in the the blaze of pixels and wall of sound we are immersed in every day. Perhaps our unwillingness or inability to face the reality of the human existence is why so little great writing graces our age. It is not just that our skill with words has succumbed to our Instant Message and eMail style of communication, it is that our connection to the deepest needs and failings of humanity is crowded out by the historically incredible lives we live today. We not only cannot write , more critically we have nothing to write [i}about[/i]

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Good Deal

Atlanta Injury Law Blog:Court orders stronger training standards for commercial truck drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations governing minimum standards for entry-level truck driver training are inadequate based on the record developed during the rulemaking process, a federal appeals court ruled today.

The minimum requirements adopted last May by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration involve only classroom education and in only four areas: medical qualification and drug and alcohol testing; hours-of-service regulations; wellness; and whistleblower protection.

The court said: “The (FMCSR staff's) Adequacy Report determined that effective training for CMV drivers required practical, on-the-road instruction on how to operate a heavy vehicle. But FMCSA ignored this evidence and opted for a program that focuses on areas unrelated to the practical demands of operating a commercial motor vehicle.”

Most of the time Public Citizen and their ilk are just bozos when it comes to trucking, but this is a case where they are on the side of the angels. The FMCSA seems to have set a pattern of doing the very least possible, or less, and only after being sued into action. There has to be a happy medium between trying to put the industry under and giving it carte blanche. The industry is right that few folks want to be without income for a couple of months while they train, but that doesn't outweigh highway safety (and getting drivers fully trained might cut down on the number of new drivers who quit or fail because of accidents or needless tickets.