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Annotations Some Days in the Life - Daily
The Rule of Quota
April 30, 2000


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Updating this journal at home is an amusing thing. Well, amusing to a total geek, or a total non-geek.

My "local" version of the Journal website lives on my Powerbook, the better to update from the office when I get the opportunity. Normally, I can network over to the Powerbook from home when necessary to do things here.

Well, this week I needed the powerbook Friday Night, so the Notebook is home. But, as Mason is hanging out with me tonight, he's using the "powerbook section" of my desk area. (I have a monumental, cubicle sized desk, with an extra table where my Windows box lives, as does my powerbook when I'm using it at home.)

So, I need to have my Powerbook connected to update it, but have no desk area to work on it. And my desk area's really the only area in my apartment where I have the space to work on a computer. So, I've ended up networking the Powerbook while it sits on the shelf near my data port, and I'm literally connected to it through the central desk computer -- just the same way as I would be if it were across the campus -- in my actual apartment. If I look carefully and crane my neck, I can see the glow of the screen where these words are appearing as I type, just the same as on my desktop monitor.

I am such a total geek. And as I make noises on the screen, we hear them on the Powerbook. Mason just complained that the Apartment is haunted, and the ghosts are Internet addicts.


Another gorgeous day today. Mason and I trekked out so I could pick up a new office chair. My old chair is a relic from Seattle, and I've had it for years, and no doubt would use it for years more, but a caster broke on it and it has been deteriorating ever since. So, finally I got the new one, which is comfortable and pleasant to look at. I also (as the chair cost quite a lot less than I'd expected) picked up a static free mat, to protect the rug and make moving about a hint more easily. Oh, and to be static free, naturally.

As we drove, we saw a lot of police cars and a lot of cars that were pulled off. I drove very carefully, but trying not to drive too carefully, as it's the end of the month and clearly there were quite a few officers under quota. I'm also still a bit sensitive following being pulled over yesterday, as related in the weblog.

As mentioned in said weblog, Mason and I were out driving when a police officer stopped us. Clearly, he was stopping everyone he could to see if they were drunk (the fact that it's the end of a month probably had something to do with that as well), as we were stopped for "running a stop sign." Well, I'd done a rolling stop, so really I did run it but not really, depending on how you look at it. And since I got no ticket, I'm not arguing the fact. I also didn't argue with the officer. I don't often argue with officers -- they tend to win and that's no fun.

From there, the officer sped off, and we followed, considerably slower. That's one of the things that annoys me about the common police officer. If 35 miles an hour is the safe speed to travel through a moderately populated area, then that's the safe speed (well, say 40, which is what everyone goes). Just because you're in a police car doesn't mean it's safe for you to go sixty, especially when your rollers aren't going. In fact, when a police officer speeds like that, what it really says is A) the officer's a hypocrite, and B) the speed limit is too slow in that area. Which happens a lot -- remember, tickets may supposed to be punishment for violating the safe conditions, but in practical terms they're revenue for the town and the state, and a certain number of tickets need to be written to balance the budget. That's why police officers have quotas, after all.

Intentionally setting the laws and regulations to be broken, so you can make revenue off of their violation, is a terrible system of revenue. It encourages citizens to find the law inconvenient instead of sacred. It suggests that maybe our lawmakers don't really care.

And maybe they don't, but the Rule of Law holds a lot better when it feels like it's there for everyone's best interest. When it's not simply there for cynical reasons -- and money is the most cynical reason of them all.

Maybe it's impossible to eliminate self interest and cynical viewpoints from the legal code. Maybe it's impossible to restrict human nature so much. Maybe our institutions will always be fallible.

But when the very officers of the law show contempt for it, it is impossible to have respect for that law. And that's very wrong. For God's sake, guys, you're not going to save that much time.

For those who are wondering if the police officer had an emergency we didn't know about, Mason and I caught up with him. At Christy's. Where he was getting a cup of coffee.

We didn't speak to him. I wouldn't even know what to say. But we drove the speed limit the whole way there, and by the time we got there he'd been there for quite a while...

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