How to avoid hitting a deer. Watch out for the reflective antlers!


Can you see me, now?Anne Ollila photo

Attempts to keep motorists from hitting animals usually center around making cars and roads safer, but the Finns are heading straight to the source

Every year, about 4,000 reindeer lose their lives on Finnish roads in car accidents, causing 15 million Euros of damage every year. And now, the Finnish Reindeer Herders Association is testing out a new way to make the large mammals more visible to drivers: reflective paint.

The idea is to spray the antlers of reindeer with reflective paint that reflects motorists’ headlights. “The aim is to prevent traffic accidents. The spray is being tested on fur at the moment, but it may be even more effective on the antlers, because they are seen from every side,” Anne Ollila, chairwoman of the Reindeer Herders Association, told the Finnish news source YLE…

I love the idea. When I still was on the road I had one regular circuit that had me driving from Montrose in SW Colorado – east to Gunnison to stay overnight. Driving right at dusk turning to night. On a stretch of highway that had the highest number of deer-car collisions in the lower 48.

Even though it was the twisty kind of elevation-changing road I loved – usually driving a car designed for sporty cornering – I learned to drive that stretch at or below the speed limit. Staying alive was a higher priority than a new point-to-point speed record.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Republican nutballs fear global assistance for the disabled


38 Republicans walked by wheelchair-bound Bob Dole and voted against the treaty

Any suspicion that the political right, after suffering a defeat on the debt ceiling and facing threats from business donors, is losing its clout can be dismissed by the fight over the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The treaty has been ratified by 141 countries. It is backed by the White House, former President George H.W. Bush, the major U.S. disability and veterans advocacy groups, and American businesses.

Senate Republicans, however, already defeated the treaty in 2012, and it now faces an uphill slog to get the two-thirds vote needed for ratification. Right-wing critics, led by former Senator Rick Santorum, the Heritage Foundation and home-schoolers, charge that adopting it would allow global enforcers to dictate the treatment of Americans with disabilities or the permissibility of home schooling, and ease access to abortion.

In reality, the treaty is modeled on the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. It states that nations must ensure that people with disabilities get the same rights and are treated with same dignity as all others. It might well pressure other countries to adopt U.S. standards.

The inevitable conflict between ignorance and stupidity – with a dash of paranoia added, not uncommon in today’s American conservatism.

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General Bernanke took charge of 2008 War on Recession


Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

In December 2008, Ben S. Bernanke, the self-effacing chairman of the Federal Reserve, declared war against a cascading recession that the Fed was late to see coming and took charge as general.

Breaking with protocol as the Federal Open Market Committee convened on the afternoon of Dec. 15, Bernanke asked his colleagues’ “indulgence” to speak first. Faced with cutting the benchmark interest rate to zero to fight a worsening crisis, Bernanke said the FOMC was about to embark on new approaches that contained “deep and difficult issues.”

“We are at a historic juncture, both for the U.S. economy and for the Federal Reserve,” said Bernanke…“The financial and economic crisis is severe despite extraordinary efforts not only by the Federal Reserve but also by other policymakers here and around the world.”

The Fed yesterday published meeting transcripts that reveal new details about the closed-door deliberations among policy makers as the financial crisis unfolded during 2008….The transcripts show policy makers had missed many warning signs earlier in the year. By December, as they gathered in the Fed’s Board Room beneath a bowl-shaped chandelier dangling two stories above, they understood they were in an economic emergency that required innovative, aggressive action.

The tale of a solitary event that led to policies agreed to by Congress and the Party of No – so fearful were the consequences. Since then, as part of a global dialectic, the analysis and response that flowed from a scholar of the Great Depression has lifted our economy back to merely struggling – from the prospect of crashing and burning.

The article is worth a read. The transcripts will doubtless end up as the source of one more film about the events. Predictable fools will chatter in hindsight analysis. Most of our politicians won’t learn a damned thing.