From the Publisher: Around the Town and Elsewhere

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Arnold G. York

Broad Beach Repair

Broad Beach — which has been receding for a number of years, to the point that the beach is all but gone, with the waves rushing up against the emergency rock revetment — had another setback recently. This setback was man-made, not nature-made. After three years of meeting, discussing, proposing, studying, consulting, measuring and endless report writing — all at the cost of $8 million to date — the denizens of Broad Beach don’t seem to be any closer to a solution than when they began. At a recent Coastal Commission meeting — after six hours and a slew of objections — they finally had to withdraw their plan, three years in the making, to try and start over. A statement that seems to be straight out of Kafka, the district manager of the Coastal Commission, said his bottom line is “balancing the need for protection with the need for public access.” All well and good if there was something to access. However, unless the homeowners get permission to put the sand down, there is nothing to access. You get the sense that in the pursuit of the perfect solution, the Commission is actually opting for the non-solution. Or maybe I have it wrong, but it looks to me like Coastal seems to believe that writing a report about fixing a coastal problem is the same thing as actually fixing a coastal problem. I never thought I’d say it, but I’m actually beginning to miss Peter Douglas.

Bikes on PCH

Frankly, I would never ride a bike on PCH. It’s not that I have anything against bikes, but I don’t even like to drive a car on PCH. Our main street is dangerous — serving as both a freeway and a main street — and there is nothing we can do about it. I see a number of bike riders whose attitude appears to be “I have a right to be on the road just like you,” which is true, but I hesitate to point out that in any contrecoup between the bike and a two-ton car, the bike and its rider are most definitely going to be the loser, whether they’re in the right or in the wrong. A few simple safety rules would be useful. 

If you’re going to be riding at dawn or dusk, wear some sort of blinking light so drivers can see you. But don’t overdo it. The other night, someone was using a strobe light that just about blinded all of the oncoming cars. 

If bikes are the future, then the legislature ought to require that they have several lights on the handlebars and several in the rear, not just one of those little bitty reflectors. It’s very difficult for any driver to judge the speed and distance of an oncoming bike because there just isn’t enough bulk to make that observation accurately. They also should have to carry liability insurance like any auto driver. Parking and getting out of drivers’ doors can be a problem because your side view mirror doesn’t always pick up a bike riding close to the parked cars and it’s difficult to see a bike unless your window is open and you stick out your head. For some of the bike riders who have a bit of attitude, get over it, as no one wants to hit you, and recognize this is a place with very little clearances so ride defensively and you’ll live a lot longer.

Vaccinations

Unfortunately, vaccinations have gone political and the possibility of having any kind of rational discussion is now just about impossible. Amazingly, Obama and Boehner agree that kids should be vaccinated. Rand Paul and Christie say there should be a parental choice, or something like that. To my mind, vaccinations are not a libertarian issue or a personal choice issue but a public health issue. There is also something in our world called science. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than most of the stuff you read on the Internet or watch on cable, which in no small measure is junk, sometimes pushed by some very sincere people, but also sometimes being pushed by some very greedy people. For example, just today, the New York Times reported that Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ordered several major retailers — Walmart, Target and others — to remove some supplements from their shelves. Turns out that what was listed on the labels was not what was in the bottles. I’m sure there are people who believe that the FTC order was part of a conspiracy by large pharma companies to destroy the natural substance market or whatever it’s called. We have been vaccinating for decades with great success and have all but eradicated many diseases. What’s next? Are we going to stop polio vaccinations or distributing cubes? Or make believe that TB is not a highly contagious disease? Granted, nothing comes without some level of irreducible risk, but it makes sense to take those risks because the alternative is much worse

P.S. I got curious and Googled the former British Doctor Wakefield, who published the study that claimed vaccination was linked to autism in some children. He ultimately was totally scientifically discredited and ended up losing his medical license. According to reports, the original paper he wrote was based upon a study of only 12 subjects and there were also charges of falsified data.