Thursday, January 18, 2007

Random thoughts, cheap shots and bon mots

• The Tracy Press ran an article Thursday about a filmmaker exploring the causes of violence in high school. It's no surprise to anyone who remembers high school that guns and massive school shootings get the media airtime, but that the day-to-day violence that often instigates those horrible outbursts — especially in the form of verbal and emotional abuse usually shrugged off as "kids being kids" — is the true plague stalking secondary education.

• Primetime newspaper: The past two weeks local TV news crews have picked up stories that first ran in the Tracy Press.

• Don't blame city planning for the City Hall delay. Unlike the Grand Theatre delay — in which a seemingly impractical request for an automated curtain-opening system pushed back the finishing date — the setback with the Civic Center was totally beyond the city's control.

• To the drunken man who tried to pick up his car from the police station after it had been impounded following a DUI, maybe driving shouldn't be an activity you should be concerned about. And you might consider purchasing a bicycle, because the police should make sure you can't get your car back — sober or not — for a very long time.

• No medicine for this congestion: Decreasing truck traffic on local Interstates would require increasing train traffic through town.

• Councilwoman Evelyn Tolbert's Friday shout-out to the city's workers is well-deserved, especially the city's planning and engineering department. According to a recent survey, they are "overwhelmed and exhausted with work," owing to understaffing.

• There was no snow in the San Joaquin Valley to add a whimsical edge to a miserable cold snap. And while valley farmers blew warm air over their trees to try to stave off frost damage, a homeless Bakersfield woman died from the cold, and many more probably suffered as much as those million-dollar trees.

• California's legislature could soon consider a proposal that would make a parent's spanking of a child younger than 4 punishable by up to a year in jail. I thought abuse laws already covered violence against youngsters — wouldn't this law just make a judge or police officers have to decide between a spank, swat, or a comforting tap on the bum?

• On my last day at work before a 10-day vacation, I wrote a column admonishing others for making "creative constructions" of reality. That's a little bit of irony.

••• As I mentioned, I'll be on vacation and hopefully entirely unreachable except by helicopter for the next week and a half. I'll be writing my next column for February 2 and will be blogging again on January 29 — hopefully with many boring tales about what I did on a Mexican beach or a Sierra Nevada ski slope while most other people were at work •••