Bureaucrat Beat: Savvy Dogs, Tough Men, and a Letter

We go immediately to the dogs today. According to Science News magazine, researchers have found that dogs are the first creatures, outside man, to show that they don’t like unfair behavior by others. Wow. We knew dogs were smart people!

Seems the dogs grew fidgety and finally stopped shaking hands when a researcher repeatedly failed to supply rewards for a trick but gave another handshaking dog bread bits. In short, the dogs had a sense of whether payment for work is fair. Scientists further figured that an aversion to unfairness is a critical factor for cooperative behavior – so the slackers don’t take over.

So, there you have it. Scientific proof that unfairness breeds contempt among the savvy, which includes dogs. Lets hope the people kind of people remember the fairness thing too. Makes for a better life, all the way around.

Young men with sports star written all over them – hey, it’s not so glitzy as it may seem. These kids have to grow up fast and handle pressure, media, competition. We write about this species of hero today because we just lost one such star – Roy Saari and other rising stars have come out of Mammoth Lakes – 18 year old Greg Bretz and 21 year old Mason Aguirre on the U.S. Snowboard Team.

Roy handled superstardom as a kid and we hear he handled it with a great deal of deft. Young Bretz has just entered the contest. He’s gutsy and only 18. No matter where it goes from here, he will always have the gutsy part.

We bring this up because by its very nature bureaucracy misses out on gutsy. Maybe that’s why we have such a hard time with regulations, regimented bureaucrats and a separate reality that has little to do with common sense reality. Maybe bureaucrats need annual “Let it all hang out” seminars. Hey, maybe that’s why more than a few bureaucrats have ended up in the wild and crazy Burning Man event in Nevada. They long for the wind blowing through their hair and naked freedom.

We see freedom gone wrong in Washington, D.C. Officials who have fallen into the dark side of liberty. They take money from lobbyists and sell us out. The heads of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee have vowed to force legislators to post their earmarks, with explanations, on their websites.

Somehow this does not offer much comfort. They will likely just schmooze the description into a euphemism. Viva la revolution. Let’s have some of that. Our co-opted form of government hurts. Big campaign donations from insurance companies means no health care for those who really need it. That’s a no brainer, don’t you think?!?

Closer to home, we’ve received many emails from people highly offended by the fate of the Cottonwood Plaza in Bishop. How could an eyesore like that have developed right under the noses of everybody?

We hear the Bishop City Council may offer an agenda item at an upcoming meeting on this issue.

Back to the burning issue of Caltrans building sidewalks. We’ve heard gripes in Bishop about plans for sidewalks on North Sierra Highway and in Independence.

Jerry Gabriel, retired Caltrans engineer, dropped off a letter on this subject. It goes like this:


The Bureaucrat Beat of Jan. 9, 2009 contained a couple of negative references concerning tree removal and sidewalks on State Highways. Both of these items result from safety concerns. I hope that no one would argue that pedestrians should be forced to wander freely among moving vehicles. Separation is essential to traffic safety. Ultimate traffic separation has been strongly rejected by both Bishop and Independence. Do I dare mention the dreaded “B” word? (BYPASS?) So, the whole story is that the communities have elected tree removal and sidewalks by rejecting the alternative. Left with the problem of moving interregional traffic through developed commercial and residential areas, Caltrans has no choice but to provide the safest possible facilities. The negative consequences may include: increased right of way width, removal of parking, removal of trees, more pavement and more curbs and sidewalks. Actions have consequences and sometimes those consequences are unexpected and unpopular. Thank you for considering my opinions.

Jerry Gabriel
Traffic Engineer

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