Thursday, November 14, 2013

"O Captain,my Captain!" (Dead Poet's Society)

What is wrong with people? Do they not have any etiquette anymore?

The movie industry has the wrong people staying at home instead of going to theaters. Why do people stay at home? Numerous reasons. It is so much cheaper to stay at home than go to a movie. If you can buy a movie on dvd for $19.99, you only spend $1.49 more for a movie you can watch at home anytime you wish. Sure, you do miss out on the giant screen, but here's are the non-tangible advantages:

1) You own it.
2) You can pause if you have to visit the W.C.
3) You can eliminate phone interruptions, or allow them at your discretion.
4) You control the volume of laughter based on who you invite over, if anyone.
5) You can make all the fresh popcorn you want for $4.50, salt it, butter it, whatever.
6) For the price of a movie soda, you can purchase a year's supply of Thomas Kemper Root Beer, or your favorite choice of beverage.
7) You can eat any choice of food or candy and not have to sneak it into the theater.
8) You don't have Annoying Man next to you who insists of fetching out M&Ms out of a bag utilizing just his index finger through a hole you couldn't fit a No. 2 pencil through (Hint for you noisy snacker: BIG hole, cup hand, pour out)
9) You don't have the other Annoying Man thinking he's on his own couch, which miraculously enough, only fits him. That's right. In a theater or any other "assigned seating" venue, legs should be no further apart than the width of the seat you're sitting in.
10) The inappropriate Howler Monkey lady who laughs at the lamest jokes, or replays the joke in her head over and over, laughing each time. Look: we all love comedy and like to laugh, but if you're still laughing from a joke 10 minutes ago, I will go ninja on you and fold my ticket stub into a throwing star and lodge it in your larynx.
11) Oh, and also enjoying movies at home you get to avoid Mr. Texture Man. This is that guy who wears a nylon jacket or track pants, constantly moves in his seat, and creates that wonderful "whoosh-whoosh" sound. It adds so much to the atmosphere, especially when the boy is reunited with his lost dog in the movie. The warm, inspirational music, slow-motion frolicking of the boy and his dog in the fall leaves, while sister, mom and dad sit on the "WHOOSH-WHOOSH-WHIZZY-WHIZZY-SHINNY-SHINNY." Nevermind. The moment is gone.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Don't chase the rabbit!" (Pacific Rim)

Living in the Seattle area, I have to deal with one of the worst commutes in America. There are all sorts of drivers that compound the traffic problems we would have regardless of the number of drivers.

Our gas taxes (federal and state) aren't enough to keep up with the our infrastructure needs. People in the lower-density areas don't want to pay for improvements in higher-density areas. At least that's the excuse we hear from Olympia. And no politician will raise the tax. Even if that's exactly what we need. Why? Because they'll be voted out. Guess what, Mr. or Mrs. Senator? I don't f**king care if you lose your elected job.

Not doing your job so you can keep your job? Yeah, you're not getting my vote. It might not be the most popular thing to do, but the right thing needs to be done. A recent example is the gun control initiatives that have failed, or cost people their elected positions. Following the Constitution is paramount; upholding the supreme law of the land trumps a misinformed and misguided fear.

But coming back to transportation, we need more money. And we need to manage it better. Sadly, I believe over 50% of the federal gas tax goes to paying debt on projects. That's pretty bad.

The other issue we have is the government mandate to increase the average miles per gallon of cars. Short-sighted as the government gets, that ecological maneuver drops gas tax revenue as people use less gas. The proliferation of electric and hybrid cars further lowers tax revenues.

So it's getting to the point where vehicles are going to be charged a mileage tax, or hefty license tax of some sort to offset the drop in gas tax revenues. Unless Boeing pulls out of Washington and turns Seattle into New Detroit, our transportation infrastructure will continue to rise.

Some of you may ask "what's wrong with mass transit?" No one wants to foot the bill for that. Transit in the area would need to triple the service they currently have. Major points on routes have large time gaps- 30 minutes or more- between stops. That may not seem very long, but consider it's Washington. 260 days of clouds and rain. Bus stops with covers that are built for 6 people. Now you want to stand out in the rain for 30 minutes? I don't think so.

In my opinion, there's a bigger issue with ramping up mass transit access. If we start having buses full of former commuters, who's paying the gas tax now? If the commuter population drops 25%- which would be amazing for the commute, gridlock-wise- gas taxes will drop 25%. And because our government is incapable of spending properly and within its means, there's going to be a huge tax somewhere else to make up for it.

The floodgates will open with dusty projects complete unrelated to transportation that will get earmarked in this round of tax increase. We've spent the last 50 years without that, Bob, we don't need it now.

So there you have it. Gas taxes won't go up because the legislature won't do their jobs in order to keep their jobs, and mass transit won't get improved because it will end up costing the government money and tax revenue.