Solutions In Search of Problems

My brain’s been increasingly muddled of late, so this is probably going to be even less focused than usual. Unsurprisingly, I suppose, as I just checked my biorhythms and my intellectual curve is plummeting down toward the bottom of the graph. Yeah, I check my biorhythms.  Not religiously, but they do seem accurate when I do.

Through a series of happenstances, unrelated events, smoke and mirrors – you know, the usual – I have become the go-to guy for the audio at city meetings. I know my way around a sound board well enough, and apparently I work cheaply enough, so I am currently up to my waist in city-level bureaucracy and politics. Which is not where I thought I would spending my adult life.

There is an astounding amount of sturm und drang even at that level, and not where you’d think. The drama and conflict is all over at the School Board meetings, maaaaan. Problems addressed at the City Council often seem to go the route of beating the dead horse until it is liquefied and poured into bottles; the best example of this occurred a couple of nights ago, when, and the tail end of the City Engineer’s presentation, an old subject was brought up by a council member.

Can you see me waving?

This likely sticks with me because it is centered where I work: at a suburban branch of Houston Community College. I work in a nice building that houses the math and science departments. It has a large parking lot behind it for the students, a smaller lot in front for faculty and staff. Some student eschew the lot in back to park on the city street that runs alongside the complex to the west – it puts them a little closer to the building. Not significantly closer, just a little closer.

There have apparently been complaints about this from local businesses. This is kind of odd, as the city streets are generally wide enough to accommodate this sort of thing. I go down this road every day on my way to work; yes, there are cars down each side of the road, but there is still room for two lanes of traffic. Unlike in my neighborhood, which has rampant street parking, and if two cars are going opposite directions, one has to pull over and let the other pass. That isn’t the case on the street in question.

Then, I guess I’m not driving a big UPS truck or other similar large vehicle. I do see the local police out there occasionally, because some of the students are stupid enough to park in front of fire hydrants.

But the resurrection of this complaint prompted a half-hour digression while various solutions to this problem were brought up and most were shot down by the City Attorney, whom I am beginning to recognize as a bastion of sanity. There was a phrase I heard during an NPR story, “This is a solution in search of a problem,” and that covers the discussion in spades.

Eh. Then again, what do I care? I get paid by the hour.

The Solution In Search Of A Problem came from an NPR story on the recent Supreme Court decision to reject a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors. This decision has prompted a out-gushing of oh-the-horror this-is-the-end-of-civilization dogs-and-cats-living-together hysteria I am used to seeing from right-wing outlets but this time it was coming from liberals and even people whose opinions I normally respect. Besides the whole Freedom of Speech thing, the law should have been stuck down because it was a totally unnecessary piece of legislation. There is already a rating system for games, and retailers follow it. I have stood by and watched a Blockbuster clerk tell a clueless parent what the M rating meant on a Grand Theft Auto game, much to the chagrin of the disappointed child next to him.

This was an easy target, low-hanging fruit for a legislature to point to and say, Look, I’m protecting your children. Now shut up for a while. Rejection of the law does not mean that it is okay to sell or rent these games to minors; it means that there is already a regulatory system in place for that and it was not needful for the government to invest time and money in enforcing it.

That is likely the most conservative thing I am going to say all month.

I would, however, like to know how many people who are squealing about the law’s rejection are also loudly complaining that the gummint needs to stay the hell out of other things.

I got on Google+, and I am pleased to report that it is nice and quiet there. Then, I’ve put about seven people in circles. I like the ability to decide who I want to see posts from, and who will see my posts. The fact that I could put some of my Facebook friends into a “Right-wing Bigot” circle and allow them to blither freely into the aether without adding to my migraine is priceless. And the fact that I would wind up in a “Liberal Idiot” circle would be quite alright, as I would never know.

Whoops, make that eight people. Keith Allison of Teleport City just made the scene.

I actually wrote a review and made a post at Attack of the 50 Foot DVD this last weekend. Trying to make it at least a twice-monthly thing, my newfound fame as an audio operator allowing. Need to find the time this weekend to finally watch 13 Assassins.

In closing: an interesting experiment is unfolding across Twitter and Facebook – Karen Barley is an attempt to tell a horror story across social media. Her Tweets are collected at this website, which also has links to the Twitter and Facebook accounts. Interesting stuff, occasionally hitting the right low-budget creepy note.

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