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March 8th, 2010:

You can ban cell phones but you can’t ban stupid [distracted driving]

Coffee & RazorOne of the reasons that cell phone bans don’t seem to reduce traffic accidents is that in the scheme of things, talking on the cell phone is not one of the more dangerous activities that drivers regularly engage in.

And even if you do managed to stop people from yakking on the phone, they’ll just come up with some other, more dangerous, activity to distract them from driving.

The 37 year old Florida woman who caused an accident while shaving her bikini line while driving is an excellent example.

From Florida Keys News:

As authorities nationwide warn motorists of the dangers of driving while texting, Florida Keys law enforcement officers add a new caution: Don’t try to shave your privates, either.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers say a two-vehicle crash Tuesday at Mile Marker 21 on Cudjoe Key was caused by a 37-year-old woman driver who was shaving her bikini area while her ex-husband took the wheel from the passenger seat.

“She said she was meeting her boyfriend in Key West and wanted to be ready for the visit,” Trooper Gary Dunick said. “If I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have believed it. About 10 years ago I stopped a guy in the exact same spot … who had three or four syringes sticking out of his arm. It was just surreal and I thought, ‘Nothing will ever beat this.’ Well, this takes it.”

[via Consumerist]

Late night document shredding at the Fed

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It’s unclear exactly why, but the Federal Reserve Bank of New York seems to have rented some paper shredders – really, really big paper shredders.

Last Thursday night around 7 PM I was in the Financial District walking down Maiden Lane when I heard a loud engine noise. As I crossed William Street and approached the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, I saw that the noise was coming from one of those giant document shredding trucks that was parked outside the Fed’s main delivery doors.

People are pretty suspicious of the Fed these days. Maybe next time they have a late-night document shredding session, they should consider hiring a document destruction company with a more discrete truck. You know, so it doesn’t look like they’re destroying evidence and all.

A soda tax will hit your frappuccino too [soda tax]

New York isn’t the only place where politicians are pushing for a soda tax. Cash-strapped legislatures around the country are increasingly looking to soda taxes as a politically palatable way to raise funds under the guise of public health initiative.

Of course such a tax would hurt the poor most of all. But just because you tend to favor sophisticated coffee drinks over Big Gulps of Coke, doesn’t mean that a soda tax won’t impact you.

A recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer had a great illustration of what exactly Philadelphia Mayor Nutter’s 2-cent per ounce soda tax would mean for your beverage of choice. Chocolate milk, fountain drinks, iced tea, even sweetened coffee drinks would be subject to the tax.

Like to drink a frappuccino in the morning? Better get ready to fork over an additional 20 cents for it. Soda taxes, it seems, will apply to Starbucks too.

Stock up on Coke, the soda tax is coming

Side of LifeThe New York Health Department is apparently ready to move forward with plans for a soda tax, according to a report in the New York Post.

“It’s time to get it done,” State Health Commissioner Richard Daines told the Daily News. “We’ve talked about it, the evidence for health benefits is getting a lot stronger, and the need for the revenue this year is definitely there.”

Daines is confidant the Legislature will pass the tax this year, setting an example for the rest of the country to follow.

A regressive tax that would threaten the very institution of free refills does not sound like a good example for the rest of the county to follow to me.

I still doubt this tax will come to pass, it is, after all, wildly unpopular. But it still might be a good idea to start stacking up on your favorite soda just in case it does in order to delay its impact on you.

Regular cans usually have around a 39 week shelf-life and probably taste good enough to drink for up to a year. A word of advice though, artificial sweeteners in diet drinks greatly reduce their shelf life and are sensitive to heat. So it’s probably a good idea to keep a good idea to keep your hoard limited to regular sodas.

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