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Smartphones ready to save dumb drivers from hefty fines

I’ve never been so glad that my teenage years happened well before anybody thought to put “smart” in front of “phone.”

Back in the ’80s a lot of phones were sort of stupid, frankly, what with waiting for the rotary dial to plod back to its stop so you could put in the next number.

Calling someone who was encumbered with a lot of 8’s and 9’s could induce carpal tunnel syndrome.

And those extra seconds were pure torture when you were already engaged in the mentally exhausting, and ego-destroying, exercise of phoning a girl to see if she’d go with you to the homecoming dance.

Egg hunt absent assaults; and returning to a great museum

I like candy as much as the next guy, but I’m not belting some three-year-old with a forearm shiver just so I can get a chocolate egg or a handful of jelly beans.

Even my sweet tooth, which has all the moral fiber of Robespierre, balks at assaulting children.

(Possibly as little actual fiber, too, what with the nutritional deficiencies of both candy and French cuisine.)

Moreover, I refrain from pushing around wee people with the sole goal of making sure my kids get (more than) their share of the spoils.

Paying more for nothing; and TMP effects aren’t equal

Got a call the other day from a local hunter who doesn’t think much of having to spend 8 bucks for the privilege of being informed that he didn’t get the tag he applied for.

Can’t say as I blame him.

It was just three years ago, after all, that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) version of a “Dear John” letter would set you back only $4.50.

Speaking up for talkies; fickle winds, and a secret juniper


A silent movie, shown in black-and-white, was judged the best film of 2012.

As an occasional cinema patron, I hope this does not mark the beginning of a trend.

I haven’t seen “The Artist.”

But I don’t need to see it to know that when I shell out the best part of a sawbuck for a couple hours of entertainment, I expect to be entertained in full rich color.

The world comes that way, after all, and I can go out and look at it for free.


Did you hear? Congress passed jobs bill



If I told you that Congress came together during an election year to pass a bill that will help create hundreds of thousands of jobs, would you believe me?

Congress recently put the finishing touches on a bipartisan agreement to extend the “middle class tax cut” for 10 months, which knocks down your payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. The plan also extended unemployment insurance with commonsense reforms, like giving states the option to screen for drug use.

Also included — and what you may not have heard about — is a framework I designed to free up vast swaths of wireless broadband (or “spectrum”) for innovation that would produce $15 billion in revenue for taxpayers and help create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Those pioneering ranchers really knew about predators



I’d like to know what the first generation of cattle ranchers around here would make of the current debate over wolves.

I’m inclined to think our 19th century forebears might not be altogether sympathetic to their modern counterparts.

In that bygone era, after all, the government, having only recently managed to hold itself together, had neither the inclination nor, likely, the money to reimburse livestock owners whose animals became wolf entrees.

Don't waste candidates' time asking about Limbaugh

So Rush Limbaugh went on the radio and insulted someone.

That this qualifies as a major national story has got me to wondering how soon until I hear this teaser for the nightly news:

“Sun rose as predicted this morning! What was Stephen Hawking’s reaction? More at 11!”

In the footsteps of the pioneers — but with fruit snacks

Went for a hike on the Oregon Trail the other Sunday accompanied by a 4-year-old who delighted in the glutinous mud which coated the historic ruts.

“Gooey,” she called it.

Also “mucky” and “messy.”

All three words were accurate enough under the circumstances.

I was distracted, though, from Olivia’s adjectival acumen by worrying about what sort of mess her slime-encrusted shoes were apt to make back at the car.

Weather Service's mission looking a little foggy lately

The government's weather forecasters have added the well-being of newborn calves and lambs to their list of worries, which seems to me an intolerable burden.

The prognosticators have quite enough pressure just with figuring out whether it's going to rain tomorrow.

I came across this latest curiosity in the fashion typical of our times — I was prowling about online, hoping to kick up something interesting.

(It's usually a short prowl, requiring the gentlest of kicks.)

Never mind the '60s: Today's the heyday for horsepower

Wasn't so long ago that "hybrid" was used most often to describe either certain canines of a wolf-like nature, or fast-growing poplar trees.

Today, of course, when we see that word we think first of cars.

Many of these, including the ubiquitous Toyota Prius, are thrifty runabouts. They sport cute little carbon footprints and are festooned with badges and decals invariably rendered in green and incorporating, in some fashion, the prefix "eco."

Conspicuously absent, or understated, in the advertisements for these models is a measurement that used to be foremost in many customers' minds.


Automakers, ever conscious of their image, are increasingly reluctant even to acknowledge that their products produce, and therefore consume, power.

Particularly since the vast majority of automobiles built since Karl Benz was in the business rely on non-renewable sources of energy to get around.

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