Monday Musings: Big Blog Week; Illegal Idling; New Food Safety Law; Deadwood

Stay tuned for a big week on my blog! Tuesday you’ll read about how good beer is now available in cans, and then Wednesday I’m posting my much-anticipated favorite albums of 2010. And Friday I’m doing a report on experiencing Christmas in Germany, followed by my normal Saturday beer review. Whew! I’m tired already…

Did you know that in Massachusetts it’s illegal to leave a vehicle idling for more than five minutes? And you’re not allowed to idle at all unless you’re in the vehicle (meaning that remote starters are technically illegal)? My wife discovered this after getting annoyed at all the people in our neighborhood who leave the vehicles running in the mornings. I had no idea it was illegal. I did know that idling is a waste of energy and unncessary with today’s engines. Even in our colder climate, the fastest way to warm up a car is to drive it.
Proof that bipartisanship isn’t totally dead and government isn’t completely locked up: a new food safety law (the first comprehensive update since 1938, leaving us while behind other industrialized countries) was passed by the Senate in late-Nov., after the House passed a similar bill a year and a half ago. (What does it say about the media that I’ve barely heard anything about this!) The bill needs to be reconciled and funded (snags remain) but the experts are impressed and believe it will go a long way toward addressing the nearly 325,000 hospitalizations and 7,000 deaths caused by food-borne illnesses yearly. The bill also allows smaller farms and backyard gardens to continue to operate without needing FDA approval so the “locavores” movement can continue.
I’m rewatching the HBO series Deadwood. I forgot how amazing this series is. Like The Wire (another favorite), it doesn’t simplify but presents the full complexity of the story: politics, history, ethnology, commerce, crime and punishment, sexual politics – and all in shades of gray, rather than the generally unrealistic black-and-white view most of us have about events past and present. And while I haven’t done much reading of Western U.S. history, it seems (from my background as an historian) that they’ve done a reasonably job of recreating the environment of a small Western settlement in the 1870s.

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