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Proposed Colloquium on Driving

Original post made by Jeff Bedolla on Aug 4, 2006

I am especially interested in driving topics. There is a lot of interesting material in the Town Square postings that could be developed further. We are not at that point yet, though. Each topic string fragments until the possibility for order is lost. And then things are quiet again until a new flashpoint topic is posted, and the cycle of futility repeats itself.

All who care about driving and traffic conditions are invited to explore how passion driven talk can evolve into mature deliberation. There have been several topics that have generated significant dialogue traffic. Why not review what's already there to get the ball rolling?

I know it sounds like I'm setting myself up as the expert here. I can't help it. I may be the only one who really knows how to drive. I can say that because I drive the way I know I should. Is there anyone else out there who'll say that? That's a good place to begin, because if we can agree that we should drive the way we know is right, we can then go about figuring out how to do it!

One possible comment to that could be, "Who's to say what is right, anyway?" Did someone think of that?

Some of the topic development sequences in Town Square Forum remind me of choosing who bats first in a pick-up softball game--where a bat is thrown, someone grabs it in the air, and then hands alternate until one covers the nub of the bat. Palo Alto can be a pioneer in taking free speech beyond juvenile opinionation into constructive social dialogue.

Jeff Bedolla

Comments (4)

Posted by Jeff Bedolla, a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2006 at 12:03 am

Dear Readers! I was looking over the "Loma Verde/Middlefield" series. Nikki B. challenges "Safe But Not Slow" thus: "Law abiding citizens should move aside so that others can pass them?" Any response to this strong retort, SBNS? Shannon? Or, are there any other tag-team champions available for relief? I am not against common sense, per se, as long as it's true.

Also, Nikki B. makes this assertion: "The 25 max limit is posted in order for you to be able to stop in time should there be a reason too (sic)". That is a strong statement which demands either agreement or rebuttal. To fail to make a response is only to imply a reluctant admission. There is room for discussion on this point--no need to throw in the towel just yet!

Shannon boldly proclaims that "25 mph is a[n] unrealistically slow speed..." This, too, is a point worth considering.

She also declares that "[E]ven the police don't drive 25."--["What do you say to something like that?"--Cypher, "The Matrix"]

For the sake of organizing any discussion to follow, the above discussion points should be indexed for ease of reference:
(1)Move Aside, Folks!
(2)For Your Own Good
(3)Get Real
(4)Say It Ain't So

Thank you, gentle reader, for visiting The Colloquium.
Jeff Bedolla

Posted by Jeff Bedolla, a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2006 at 2:58 pm

It is not my intention to shut down traffic on topics that may occasion embarassment for those who "speak out". Nevertheless the purpose of such traffic is to resolve issues of concern. It is with a sense of civic duty and high-minded moral purpose that I present, with all due humility--[if there is anyone who can take this mantle away from me, please help me with this burden! Where are all the honorable citizens of good repute when you need them?]--Update on activity of interest:

(1)The person currently known as "Safe But Not Slow" said: "Drivers who think that it's their mission to slow traffic down are crossing a "good neighbor" line." I would love to engage a discussion on this point, with all the drivers who hold this opinion. There are so many points of departure that it would be much to be desired to have a respondent to help structure the dialogue. But I suppose that's asking a lot. If the capacity for reflection were more prevalent, perhaps there would be a greater response rate--as there might also be more evidence of impulse-control in the driving public. As it is, I guess the place to begin is with the observation that there appears to be two sets of laws with which we need to be concerned: first, the one's that are written down, which are generally ignored and therefore should not be obeyed; and, second, the one's that are not written down, which are not consonant with the first--but which everyone goes by, and therefore--which should be obeyed...and leave it at that, for the time being.

Well, since I've gone this far, just one little happens to be the written law that cars should use the right lane, except under special conditions. So, it would appear that the rule of conduct that is being proposed here is that a combination of real laws and made-up ones should be the standard for our civil conduct. I am uncomfortable with that. I like to know what the rules are. That's why we have laws in the first place.

(2)The above commentor also says: "Slower drivers should pull to the right and allow those who want to drive...faster [blow by]". The term of expression "blow by" is my own. The commentor didn't actually finish his own thought, so I took the liberty of doing so for him. That is not a "good neighborly" thing to do, at all. That is abject capitulation to the illegal use of force to appropriate the commonwealth for one's own selfish purposes. Social relations are established on the basis of respect for the rule of law. When that sacred social contract is violated constantly by the egregious violations of the many, it does in fact become a civic duty to stand up for the rule of law. How one is to do that is the hard part. It starts with the willingness to learn how to drive right, because, as a matter of fact, abiding in the law is how the law is truly enforced.

(3)As a natural continuation of what has just been said by this, your humble servant--acting dutifully as the moderator of The Colloquium on Driving--Sgt. Sandra Brown puts the matter in no uncertain terms: "We at the police department take traffic violations very serious[ly] and work on a daily basis to issue citations to those drivers that decide to violate the traffic laws established by the State of California."

Do you want to argue with that? Be my guest. I mean that seriously, too. Should they not enforce the law? How about this: lets say that the police are spread pretty thin--Sgt. Sandra Brown admits that the neighborhood burglary problem has cut into resource allocation levels for red light enforcement. So, the police are only going to get a fraction of the violation events, right? OK, so you can see where official frustration would naturally develop over the impotence of law enforcement to bring about a climate of compliance with the law. After all, it's the duty of the police to uphold the law--for who? a citizenry that doesnt respect it's own laws? And it is no mystery why we now have to have cameras on top of traffic signals. We didn't want to follow the law as much as we wanted to get around it out of a misguided sense of self-interest.

So, why not comply voluntarily with the law, out of pure civic spirit, the same way you'd pick up litter for Adopt-A-Highway, or volunteer to serve meals to those currently labeled "the homeless" on holidays? Don't you think you owe it to your country to uphold its' laws? If people started really doing that, it would make a real difference--like nothing else can.

Notice that Sgt. Sandra Brown says "..those..that decide to violate the traffic laws.." There is a human being behind every role and every action of any person. Shakespeare had it right when he said "All the world is a stage..". When we agree to honor our highest values, and not just go along with what are the usual practices in society--such as driving a little faster than the law allows--the human being inside will reveal itself and the world will be a better place automatically.

Instead of targeting offenders, I would like to see the whole thing reversed, where people who wanted to do the right thing were encouraged, instead of trying to discourage people from doind the wrong thing. The real problem in our society it that people do not realize that doing what is right is in the direct line of their own true best interest. It is not like as long as you don't get caught you win. That is a tragic folly.

You know, I follow the law--even when I am surrounded by other drivers who don't. I'm sure you all can appreciate what a hard thing that is to do. But I'll tell you what. The reward for following a path of integrity is way more than the cost of non-conformity to errant social norms. As Lily Tomlin said, "The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win you're still a rat."

(4)Sgt. Sandra Brown also says: "We ask everyone driving in the City of Palo Alto to obey all of the posted speed limits, right[s]-of-ways [sic] and intersection signal lights."

[Digression: The word "sic", for those who don't know, means "Thus;--sometimes inserted {sic] to note that an expression, spelling, or the like, exactly reproduces the original." In this case the plural of "right-of-way" (or, "right of way") is, according to the rules of grammar--and since we're talking about rules of the road, it is not out of place to mention the existence of rules in the realm of the traffic of ideas, too!--rights-of-way.]

When we got our driver's license, we agreed to follow the law. So, it would not be at all out of place to say: "If you don't want to follow the laws, you are deciding to be an outlaw." It is important to be a good citizen. When you follow the laws you are contributing to the well-being of society. If you choose not to align your personal interests with the common good, well, that by definition is a legitimate social concern.

(5)In line with what has just been said, this from commentor "Mike W." [--note: All of "seed" remarks in my present posting can be found in the Loma Verde/Middlefield dialogue string, under "Palo Alto Issues"]:

"..violators (I was tempted to say criminals, but most of us wouldn't like that because we speed on the freeway, or something, i.e., break traffic law).." Why don't we all just save ourselves a lot of trouble and go down to the police station and say, "I broke this law and I am turning myself in, and I will do better next time?" The police would smile more if they believed people really wanted to obey the law, and weren't just playing a game. Have you ever noticed how every car freezes when a patrol car shows up in the traffic stream?

I would just like to interject one thing here, in the form of a question: If a driver changes his driving style when a police car is in the vicinity, can that driver legitimately claim to be a "good" driver? Really good driving means never having to say you're sorry! [Remember? "Love means never having to say you're sorry."?]

When drivers start "coming from" the right place--respect for the law--it would make it a lot easier on the members of our police departments. They would then be able to look to other major concerns. [My position on this has been published previously in both the Willow Glen Resident, March 15, 2006, and in the Los Gatos Times, on about March 29, 2006. Interested readers will find there my "Speak Out" piece, to the editor of the resident, entitled "What Is [sic] Wrong With following the Law?"]

Well, that's enough for now. I was going to mention "Mike W."'s comment on "democracy in action", too. Democracy is better if the "demos" aren't "crazy". And that's what people are who can't see that being a law-abiding citizen is the better way to go. If domocracy means "the people themselves rule", doesn't that imply that they appreciate governing temselves?

Jeff Bedolla

Posted by Jeff Bedolla, a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2006 at 3:50 pm

Errata, in previous positing [It was so big that I didn't want to risk losing it so I sent it without proofreading it. Here are my corrections]:

(1)In Par. 1, "Insert drum-roll, please!" is missing just before "Update on Activity of Interest". [Also, in the original, the "a" in "activity", and the "i" in "interest" are not capitalized, and they should be. And, at the end of the last sentence, "in the Town Square Forum" s/b added for th sake of clarity.

(2)In Section 2, par. 1 logical ambiguity exists where I said "That is not a "good neighborly" thing to do." I don't mean that finishing the thought with ["blow by"] is somehow a violation of the personal dignity of the seed commentor. I meant and maintain that allowing people to rip by you and simply facilitating that abusive treatment is to disrespect yourself--and does not contribute to the common good.

(3)In Section 3, par. 2, line 1: "lets" s/b "let's".

(4)Also in Sect. 3, par. 2, line 5: "doesnt" s/b "doesn't".

(5)Sect. 3, par. 5, line 2: "doind" s/b "doing".

(6)Sect. 3, par. 5, line 2: "it" s/b "is".

(7)Sect. 4, par. 2, line 4: The term "rights-of-way" s/b in quotes, but is not.

(8)Sect. 4, par. 3, line 1: licence s/b plural.

(9)Sect. 5, par. 2: The "Mike W." quote should go in the first paragraph.

(10)Sect. 5, par. 4, line 4: "resident" s/b "Resident", as it is a part of a proper name, an organ of the Silicon Valley Community Newspapers group, namely "The Willow Glen Resident"--Moryt Milo, editor, Dale Bryant, general editor.

(11)Sect. 5, par 5, line 3: "domocracy" s/b "democracy" [Isn't that the truth!]

Jeff Bedolla

Posted by Jeff Bedolla, a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2006 at 10:57 am

Dear Readers,

There does not seem to me to be a viable audience in the Town Square Forum. There is an absence of truly constructive dialog. Contributors say things and don't attempt to stand behind them when their views are challenged. There is a lack of effective mechanisms of control to shape the discussion. To me it seems there is no one out there at all, just a dialectical void. I don't think there is anything I can do here. If concentrating on this work in this venue is not efficacious, then all that is possible is a shallow opinion-sharing. There is no real forum here, no conclusions are possible in discussions where there are no rules of procedure, no obligations of order. In the end, this is just a clamoring crowd, each demanding attention, none concerned about demonstrating the respect of honest listening.

What this all says about the condition of our society is unsettling to me. I just have to accept this as an experiment that didn't work, and call it a day.

Jeff Bedolla

Jeff Bedolla

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