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It will not hurt to drive slower, but it will definitely help

Are so many of us harried, in a hurry, a bit frayed around the nerves and feeling out of time?

Yes. This frenzied lifestyle is common.  It is a sign and way of our time now, where life does not stand still for a second. Smart phones, GPS, email, texting, everything is happening real-time, right now, and we MUST respond and act. We are scheduled by the minute.

Adrenaline junkies like it, and everyone else stays laser focused to the exclusion of much else, goal oriented all the way.

This modern anxious existence is a form on tunnel vision, and it can be witnessed anywhere there is a red traffic light, a stop sign, a pedestrian cross walk, a parking lot, heck even a school pick up zone.

These locations are choke points, places where cars and people tend to gather, and where prevailing traffic must slow down. But a lot of drivers do not slow down in these areas, either because they have tunnel vision or because they are desensitized to congestion. Like everything else, they just plow through it.

Daggone, drivers are in a HURRY to get to that next stop sign, or the next red light. If they would pay attention to the vehicles around them, they’d see that blasting from one light to the next does not advance their cause, but it does eat up their gas and increase the risk of hitting someone.

Parking lots are the biggest buggaboo I see and experience, where drivers just go way too fast. Parking lots are relatively small areas and there is little room for error there. If a driver speeds, driving fast in a parking lot during business hours, there is a real possibility of a pedestrian or two walking through to their car but meeting up with the speedster, instead.

Let us ask some simple questions: Why are we hurrying in these small, tight, confined spaces? What actual time saved are we hoping to bank, a second, two seconds?

What is that miniscule amount of time worth against the life or health of another person, who may be walking nearby? What is our time savings worth when we hurt someone, and then suffer the consequences along with them?

It won’t hurt to slow down. It might even help, because accepting the terrible fate of losing a few seconds of time can become a form of Zen relaxation.

Try it, you will like it.


The Amanda Knox Case: Italy’s Great, Really Great, Flaws on Parade

by Josh First
October 5, 2011

This week, Amanda Knox took the witness stand in her own defense, a highly unusual move for the truly guilty.

Her desperate, earnest, tearful plea for justice moved the Italian jury to vacate the bizarre judgment against her. Italian prosecutors had accused Knox of wild sexual behavior that, in most people’s minds, exists only among Italy’s most liberated citizens.

Italy is famous for its beautiful country, high-minded art, and also infamous for corruption and a perennially weak military whose inadequacies reflect the deepest failings of Italian society.

Italy’s pervasive culture of corruption, at least by Western standards, has been on vivid parade this past year with constant reporting about prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s sexcapades on the public dime, and financial misdeeds. As a man, I gotta recognize impressive performance when I see it, and Silvio, old buddy, you are both a total stud and a terrible public servant. At least by my American values.

Earlier this year, PBS ran a three-part series called “Zen,” a cool-sounding Bhuddist name, but which according to the show’s producers is actually an old Venetian (Venice) name. Venice…the romantic, mysterious city of love. Intriguing, right?

In this TV show, Zen is an Italian police detective known for being honest and an unlikely survivor of Italy’s rampant official corruption. Viewers enjoy a voluptuous tour of Italy’s women, architecture, wine, cars, rural countryside, and, yes, the beautiful Machiavellian art of public corruption.

PBS is not in the business of damaging relationships with liberals, so if there is any truth to “Zen,” Italy is one screwed up country. Everyone is obsessed with sex, money, power, and using power to get women and money. The women are depicted as seductive, manipulative, and obsessed with money and capturing men. Especially married men. So, I admit to watching “Zen” to great entertainment. Especially with my wife. It’s pretty hot. At least by my American standards.

Is “Zen” a fair description of Italy? Are press reports about Berlusconi representative of Italy-at-large?

A popular Italian joke I have lifted from my old friend Trish at mozzarellamamma.com answers this question, and goes like this:

A husband and a wife are at an expensive restaurant. While seated at the table, a beautiful, leggy, buxom blond in a low-cut dress comes up and kisses the husband. “Ciao, Amore,” she says, before waltzing off.

“Who was that?” demands the wife.

“My lover,” answers the husband nonchalantly.

“WHAT?” the wife nearly screams. “How dare you take a lover!”

The husband leans across the table and says, “I will give you five minutes to think about it, and if you do not like it, you can get up and leave.”

The wife is silent. She looks around at the elegant restaurant, her jewel-laden fingers, and her mink coat, all a product of her marriage, and she thinks.

While she is thinking over his proposition, Giovanni, a colleague of her husband, comes up to their table to greet them. At his side is a young, buxom brunette, pretty but not quite as tall and leggy as the blond lover. They chat for a minute and the couple leaves.

“Who was that woman?” the wife asks.

“She is Giovanni’s lover,” the husband responds.

“Well, our lover is prettier than their lover,” the wife answers, making her final choice and her loyalty evident.

This uniquely Italian joke illuminates how cheating on your spouse is acceptable in Italy. Although legal since 1970, divorce is far less acceptable. According to mozzarellamamma.com, this arrangement “is part of the Catholic culture that men and women may be forgiven for taking lovers, but not for divorcing and breaking up a family. The family is sacred. For many reasons, it has therefore become acceptable to take lovers.”

Back to Amanda Knox, alone in a fantastic society whose values are upside down from the ones she grew up with in America. She is in a beautiful, screwed up society that she does not understand. And her misunderstanding nearly lands her in jail for life.

Italian prosecutors are used to dealing with perversion, wild and kinky sex, and the passionate violence that seems to ever accompany those practices. It was easy for the Italian prosecutors to fabricate a fantastic case, and to accuse delicate Amanda of being something other than she appears. After all, it’s totally Italian to be what they claimed she was, and anyone as sweet as Amanda must actually be the opposite of what she appears. That is the Italian way, apparently. Their claim was believable enough to Italian judges and the first jury, who wrongly convicted Amanda on those titillating, exciting, mental images alone.

But Amanda is not Italian; she is a product of American culture, which remains Puritanical at its core, Thank God.

During her appeal, when the light of day was focused on the prosecution’s insane house of cards that summed up the totality of the evidence against Amanda, good-hearted Italian jurors could not help but shake their heads in disbelief and let Amanda go home to her boring country. Amanda was clearly out of her league, but she was not a murderer or sex-crazed dominatrix, either. Italians know their business and recognized a fake when they saw one. Amanda, you are not one of us and you do not deserve to be punished, the jury must have concluded.

And Amanda came home to Wonderful Perfect Amazing America.

Welcome back to old fuddy-duddy America, Amanda, back to the land of Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead.  Back to the land of The Rule of Law.  Yes, we are boring. Yes, we are not extravagant. Yes, we are simple. Yes, we are not pseudo-sophisticated. And aren’t you glad of those facts?

America, love it or leave it! And if you leave it, be ready for the ride of your life.