Friday, December 19, 2014

Photo Selection: The Director at Graduation

This is a picture of me with The Director, at graduation. Of the two pictures of the two of us together at that event, it's not my favorite, but the other one has CN Chatti photobombing right between us, so I'm posting this one instead. The Director was very good to me - still is - from all the way back in late 2010, when I first E-mailed him to inquire about the program, all the way up to the present. I have nothing but fond things to say about him, and he's one of the five or six folks whom I can say, without question, that they unequivocally changed my life.

Speaking of, I'm long overdue to send him an E-mail...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Aunt Jo and Fruit of the Loom (No, Not Like That!)

In my first post, I mentioned "Aunt Jo", who recommended that I go to Aberdeen. This morning, I woke up having been tagged in a video she posted to Facebook. I wondered: why?

Ohhhhhhh... That's why. Some of you may remember my post about how to wear a kilt, for which the accompanying video (that I watched to help me dress for graduation) seems to have disappeared - bummer. Anyway, my one annoyance with the Fruit of the Loom advert pertains to the language it used: This holiday? Which holiday? Come on, folks. It's called Christmas. Tons of people celebrate it, even those who don't believe in the divinity, or even the historical existence, of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Caveat aimed at Honda: nobody ever got Stretch Armstrong or Skeletor "for the holidays"!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mr. Salmond Goes to Westminster (Or Maybe Not)

Alex Salmond is going to be running for the Gordon constituency in Westminster - the British, not Scottish, Parliament - next May. He's going to be a candidate for a seat in a legislative body in which he publicly, openly, and rather obnoxiously didn't believe that Scotland should even be a part of as recently as three months ago. For those who don't remember my exhaustive coverage of the secession referendum, Alex Salmond...

... is the dynamo of charisma and optimism seated in the back seat in the above photo.

Be still my aching heart.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Scotland's New Alcohol Law is Crazy

I spent over a year of my life in Scotland, and the Scottish Government - of which I've been openly skeptical for a long time - has passed new legislation that's got me pretty frustrated. I heard about it on Friday's edition of Around Orkney, saw their corresponding blurb on their Facebook feed, and then I read about it in more detail on the BBC News website.

When I was in Scotland (back when they still had the same laws on this matter as the rest of the United Kingdom), I was appalled by how draconian both the laws and attitudes toward alcohol and motor vehicles were. I'm all for responsible driving, and I think that drunk driving ("drink driving" in the British vernacular) is an extremely serious issue. However, the British obsession with "health and safety" is disproportionate to the actual risks, and their attitude toward intoxicants and the operation of motor vehicles reflects that. I frequently dealt with people who wouldn't risk a single drink, even on a full stomach, if they intended to drive at any point within the intervening twenty-four hour period. The actual risk of impairment rarely factored into it - it was all about the law.

Now, Scotland has made that law even stricter. The Scottish government has lowered the legal limit for a driver's blood alcohol content. In the rest of the United Kingdom, the legal limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, and 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath. Scotland's limits are now 50 millileters for blood, and 22 micrograms for breath. So, rather than boosting enforcement of the existing draconian laws, they've just made the laws more draconian.
"There was a preconceived idea, perhaps, with people that maybe have a glass of wine while having a meal, the message now is don't drink at all. People that are gonna, perhaps, fall foul of the new legislation is ones that have a drink the night before, and obviously driving then in the morning, so if you have a drink the night before, the message is in the morning, don't be taking the car to work in the morning, just walk to work, or cycle, whatever the case may be, or taxi, so the message is: do not drink and drive."


"The proposed changes sends a clear message that there is no safe alcohol limit for drivers, so just don't drink and drive. And it reduces that element of, perhaps I can have a glass of wine with a meal on the afternoon of a Sunday, or whatever the case may be, or the night before, just, don't be drinking and driving, that's it, it's just a clear message."
- Police Scotland (Kirkwall) Road Safety Officer Jim Munro
This, my friends, is simply asinine.

One of my best friends, Gus (whom my longtime readers will remember) just happens to be a state trooper in our home state, and one of the state's leading specialists in alcohol and intoxicant identification and apprehension. I gave him a call and posed both of those statements to him, and he immediately dismissed them as ridiculous. He listed off a bunch of statistics, based upon actual science, and pertaining to how quickly the body metabolizes alcohol and how much alcohol must be in a person's system in order to cause impairment. His description was cogent, and although I understood it all, I don't remember the precise details. The bottom line, though, is that he was unequivocal that there was no reasonable expectation that an individual who had one drink with dinner would still be in any way inebriated the next day. My words, not his: PC Munro's statements are absurd, and have as much basis in science as the burning of witches or the conversion of lead into gold.

One of my favorite essays/lectures of all time is Aliens Cause Global Warming, which uses global warming as an object lesson in the use of pseudo-science to justify well-intentioned policy. Reducing drunk driving isn't just well-intentioned, it's important. Whether one is in America or Scotland, that goal is poorly served by misguided laws and hyperbole from public officials.