Category Archives: Rant

Subsidizing your lifestyle

Glasstrack sent along this story from yesterday’s LA Times:

DWP plan would give Valley a rate break

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has assembled a plan to charge many households in the San Fernando Valley lower rates for electricity during the summer compared with the rest of the city, on the grounds that those who live in a hotter climate deserve a break.

For example, Valley households would begin paying a higher rate for power once they have exceeded 1,000 kilowatt-hours on their bimonthly bills.

By comparison, households in the remainder of the city would begin paying a higher rate once they passed 700 kilowatt-hours on their bimonthly bills.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has backed the rate-restructuring plan, saying he sees no contradiction between the effort to encourage conservation and the extra consideration for the Valley.

“Their temperatures are so much more extreme, so you have to take that into account,” he said Monday. “It would be unfair otherwise.”

In other news, State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner held a joint press conference with representatives from AAA, Allstate, Geico, and State Farm insurance companies to announce that the major insurance companies would be adjusting their rate tables so that policies for Lamborghinis and Ferraris wouldn’t cost much more than a policy for a top-end Lexus.

“Their maintenance and other expenses are so much more extreme, so you have to take that into account,” he said Monday. “It would be unfair otherwise.”

In a separate press conference, State Controller John Chiang announced a plan to introduce a graduated tax collection system at the fuel pump. The high-tech solution would automatically reduce the state excise tax and sales tax by 50% after the 20th gallon has been pumped, and by 75% after the 30th. Primary beneficiaries of this plan would include drivers of the Ford Excursion.

“Their fuel consumption and average vehicle miles traveled are so much more extreme, so you have to take that into account,” he said Monday. “It would be unfair otherwise.”

Jiffy Lube Scam

Just watch.


Get this video and more at MySpace.com

All the original NBC 4 videos:

2003-11-07: http://www.nbc4.tv/video/2620224/detail.html

2006-04-21: http://www.nbc4.tv/video/9152183/detail.html

2006-05-03: http://www.nbc4.tv/video/9155837/detail.html

2006-05-24: http://www.nbc4.tv/video/9265802/detail.html

I knew they took advantage of customers’ fears and sold them services they didn’t need, and I also knew they were horrible at what they did, but I didn’t know they were cheating, lying, sons of bitches.

Teen pays $7.3m for talking and driving

Stupid teen.

LA Times: Jury sends a message in case involving teen’s cell use

By Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writer

A stunning verdict emerged from a Palmdale courtroom in 2003 that sent a statement about public opinion on cellphone use by drivers, but the case also showed how insurance policies shape the outcome of accident litigation.

The jury was considering the matter of an off-duty Los Angeles police officer injured by a 16-year-old driver of an SUV, who made an illegal U turn.

The teenager was not drunk, under the influence of drugs or otherwise engaged in criminal behavior. The police officer was not permanently crippled, though testimony indicated that he suffered significant pain and that the injuries prevented him from an important promotion.

Although the teenager denied using a cellphone at the time of the accident, her phone records showed that she was on a call at the approximate time of the crash.

“She said she hung up before the accident,” said Hugh J. Grant, the attorney for the young defendant. “The jury didn’t believe her.”

Indeed, the jury delivered a stunning award: $7.3 million for the officer.

Who was going to pay for this and why did the jury give so much? Many cases involving death or permanent disability result in less compensation to victims. Even many drunk driving cases result in lower awards. But this was no ordinary case.

“It was an angry jury,” recalled R. Rex Parris, the Lancaster attorney who represented the police officer.

“It was a very unusual case with some very unusual injury allegations,” Grant said.

What inflamed the jury? Was it the cellphone? The fact that the injured defendant was a police officer? The behavior of the defendant?

The teenager “showed up with a $1,000 Louis Vuitton purse and $1,000 spike heels,” Parris said. “I just wanted the jury to see the purse again. She didn’t want to show it. I asked her if she had the cellphone with her. When she pulled it out, the power was on. She had come to court with a cellphone turned on. The jury was kind of incensed by the whole thing.”

There was other testimony, Parris recalled, that showed the girl’s father, a car dealer in the Antelope Valley, had pressured the police to change the accident report.

Cellphone use has galvanized the auto safety community. In the aftermath of this verdict, the California Assembly considered — but then failed to approve — a bill to outlaw hand-held cellphones by drivers. New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have outlawed hand-held cellphones.

Despite the controversy and big verdicts, cellphones continue to gain popularity among drivers.

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released in February showed that cellphone use by drivers doubled between 2000 and 2004. Surveys of drivers show that 8% of drivers ages 16 to 24 use cellphones at any given time. By comparison, just 1% of drivers age 70 and over use them.

That’s troubling to Parris, who said he believes teenagers’ brains have not developed enough to handle the mental demands of talking and driving. And Grant cautions that using a cellphone carries a clear legal risk.

“It is more and more common in accidents to subpoena production of the driver’s cellphone records,” Grant said. “At all times, drivers are responsible for the safe operation of their vehicles, and when they breach that duty they are liable.”

I wouldn’t just single out teenagers, though. People in general can’t handle walking while talking on their mobiles; they certainly shouldn’t be manoeuvering a 1-2 ton vehicle at speed.

My road. My spot.

I pulled up to Flower and Exposition and spotted a parking spot just across the intersection. Then I noticed the blue Honda in the first right turn lane maneuver her vehicle into the second right turn lane. I knew she wanted to go straight. There was an outside chance she also wanted to steal my parking spot. Well, we’ll see about that.

As soon as the light changed I zipped forward and slid into the space. As I Austin Power’d the car into position, I noticed the Honda with its right turn indicator blinking hovering by my spot while blocking the through traffic. The driver was saying something out of her window to me. I got out of the car.

“You took my spot. I was in the right lane waiting for that spot! You were all the way over there.”

She pointed vaguely at the middle of the road behind her.

“I was in the right-most lane that goes straight. You were in the right turn lane. There are two right turn lanes.”

“I know, I didn’t see that and then I moved into the other lane as soon as I saw the spot.”

Uh-huh.

Blue arrow is me, green arrow is her. Red arrow is the disputed parking space.

Well, I had somewhere to be. So I wasn’t about to move, and I don’t usually feel sorry for people too stupid to get in the correct lane. In fact, I think those people should be given a lifetime bus pass and stay off my road.

“What a gentleman. Why don’t you go back to your own country?”

Ha! Not only stupid, but a racist besides! I hope she gets mugged walking back to her car parked in BFE.

But let’s get back to the broader point, here. She was in the right-turn lane and instead of dealing with her mistake and turning right, or waiting until it was safe to merge into the through lane, she decided to force a merge into oncoming traffic only to stop just across the way. That’s dangerous. She risked injury and at least one hour of her time just because of her stupidity. Definitely a prime bus pass candidate.

Snoozing through traffic

It doesn’t rain often here, but when it does, people freak out. I have a low opinion of most people’s ability to drive to begin with, and this morning it seemed that every traffic report that managed to sneak into my consciousness before I hit snooze reported another couple accidents on the freeways. Checking Sigalert.com, I can see a clusterfuck of accidents in Orange County (heh, Republicans really can’t drive), accidents up and down the 710, and a scattering of accidents everywhere else. Ugh. No thanks.

So here are some tips to my fellow LA area drivers:

1. Pay attention. You should always pay attention, but pay special attention when it’s raining/wet. That means turning off your cell phone, saving the paper for later, or doing your makeup before getting in the car.

2. Keep your distance. Your brakes are shitty, your reaction time is slow, your tires are those plastic, long-lasting ones you picked up at Costco for $25 a tire last year. You just aren’t going to be able to stop as quickly, period. Multiply that by a factor of 1.5-2.5 in the wet. Don’t forget that there’s an asshole behind you who drives just like you. If he’s tailgating you and you’re tailgating the guy in front of you, you’re in for a world of hurt.

3. Keep both hands on the wheel. Driving through a pool of standing water can rapidly slow down your wheels on one side, causing your car to jerk toward that side. If you’ve only got a few fingers resting on the bottom of your steering wheel when that happens, you’re probably going to hit that median or the car next to you.

4. Stay home. You just ignored 1-3, didn’t you? Well, then just call in sick today. Stay off that road. Or better yet, take advantage of all this free water by washing your car in the rain. Last night I hosed down my car, quickly soaped it up, then took a spin around the block (tried to get my wheels to break loose at the cul de sac, but didn’t try hard enough). All in ten minutes. My car is clean!

5. Do the math. Sigh. So you’re going to get out there anyway. So let’s say you gotta get somewhere that’s ten miles away. If you’re driving 55 mph, it’ll take you 11 minutes. If you’re driving 75 mph, it’ll take you 8 minutes. If you get in an accident, you can add 1-2 hours to your commute. If you can’t handle the speed (and let’s be honest here, you can’t), go ahead and suck it up. It’s going to take you an extra three minutes, and you should stay the fuck out of the passing lane.

I guess this is more of angry rant than a list of tips. There’s still good advice in there. 😉