I see numbers everywhere. When I was a teenager, I would go to sleep and dream of math equations, as though there were a whiteboard in my head being written upon by an invisible hand. I would wake up exhausted because my brain wouldn't shut off. That hasn't happened in quite a while, but I still see numbers and patterns everywhere.
By no means am I claiming to have a Beautiful Mind, like that of tortured soul John Nash. On my very best day, I might have a Somewhat Good-Looking Mind. But still, the numbers are there, talking to me. The numbers grabbing my attention today include:
0.001—That's the percentage of people who signed a petition against red-light and speed cameras who did so based on a well-thought-out constitutional argument. Face it: The average American would have trouble mounting a constitutional argument against slavery. No way they're doing it on speed cameras.
Far too many people want to drive like jackasses, as though they were the only ones on the road and those two-digit numbers on the signs were merely suggestions. "Yield" is defined as "cut in front of those who have the right of way" and a yellow light means step on it.
I heard one person complain that "people slow down when they get near the cameras and then they speed back up." So the complaint is that people who are breaking the law find themselves having to decelerate to the posted speed limit in the vicinity of the camera zones? To me, that means that they're working.
My only complaint with the cameras—and it's a big one—is that they should be owned and operated by the governmental entity that is utilizing them. The fact that a private business is involved sets things up for abuse. However, since there is no constitutional right to privacy and driving is a privilege and not a right, the whining rings hollow. There is a question to be raised concerning due process, but even that is rather weak.
While some might claim otherwise, the majority of people who would vote against speed cameras are selfish drivers who want to be able to break the law without getting caught.
64 percent—In a recent poll, that's the percentage of people younger than the age of 30 who believed that the gathering of phone-call records by the government constituted an invasion of privacy. There are many, many things wrong with that, not the least of which is that many of the respondents mistakenly believed that the government was listening in on their phone calls.
What I find hilarious is that this is a generation that will go on four different social media platforms and declare: I hooked up with this guy last night. His back was kinda hairy, but on a scale of 1 to 10, I give the sex a B-minus. His breath smelled like Mentos, but I can't remember his name. Then, they'll turn around and be outraged that someone was applying an algorithm to billions of phone-call records in an attempt to find a pattern that might lead to a terrorist cell. That's just funny.
1,282—That's how many days until the Tea Party goes away for good, because 1,282 days from now, Barack Obama will no longer be president. That whole small-government ideological movement claim has all but been abandoned, most recently by the rabid support for spending $40 billion to double the size of the Border Patrol. The Tea Party has always been—and remains—a movement based on a visceral hatred of a man who speaks differently and ...well ... looks different than almost all Tea Party people. He is a daily in-your-face reminder of how this country is changing and that's change that they don't want to believe in.
Nearly five years in, almost 70 percent of Tea Party people believe that President Obama will "destroy the country." Six out of 10 still believe that he was born in another country. And more than half think he's secretly a Muslim, which, I suppose, in their minds would disqualify him from holding office. It's just too weird.
So in 1,282 days, Barack Obama will be gone and the Tea Party can fade into history, just another kook fringe group that vastly overstayed its allotted 15 minutes.
Unless Hillary Clinton gets elected ...
14—That's the spot on Billboard's Hot 100 for "Same Love" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (featuring Mary Lambert). Way back in December, I named it as my favorite song of 2012 and now it's finally blowing up.
The New York Times did a nice article on the Seattle-based rapper and the song, noting how "Same Love" took off after the ascension to No. 1 of Macklemore's goofball hit, "Thrift Shop," and coincided with the Supreme Court sort of OK'ing gay marriage. (The court's rulings were steps in the right direction, but the ruling in the California Proposition 8 case was especially troubling, for multiple reasons. More on that at another time.)
Finally, 39—We go 39 straight days with 100-degree temperatures and all we do is tie the record (set in 1987 and tied in 2005). We couldn't go one more day? That sucks almost as much as the fact that Tucson's record for 100-degree days in a year is 99.