Speed limits apply to everyone (that means you, government employees)

Thursday, June 17, at about 12:50 p.m. a government-owned black Chevy Trailblazer passed me as though my car was parked in the westbound lane of Interstate 84 near milepost 186. The big Chevy passed everyone else on that stretch of highway as well. I had to get to 75 mph to take the license plate number. I called in the speedster to the Oregon State Police, but the driver with a carload of passengers turned off at Exit 181, so I doubt anyone caught him.

At least I think it was a him.

I?m irked just about anytime I see someone speeding in a vehicle taxpayers bought. First off, the obvious ? it?s unsafe, not just for that driver and his (her?) passengers, but for all of us who have to put up with that numbskullness.

Then there is the operating costs of this gas-guzzling SUV. The website for Consumer Guide Auto shows 2002-09 Chevy Trailblazers ? depending on the model ? get anywhere from about 13 to 19 miles per gallon. Government agencies like to brag about using less energy and going to fuel-efficient or even hybrid cars. Driving a nearly 6,000-pound rig in excess of the speed limit flies in the face off all that.

This is the kind of thing I hate to see public employees do. Many of my family work or have worked in government jobs. This driver?s irresponsibility and waste erodes support for public employees, most of whom are working hard for the good of us all.

I?m hoping the driver of that Trailblazer figures out not to be a road and gas hog while on the taxpayer dime. Anymore, we the people simply can?t afford it. Moreover, we don?t want it.

? Phil Wright

Pendleton?s ghosts are never far off

After covering Thursday?s walking tour of downtown Pendleton that helped kick off the city?s latest urban renewal effort, I was lucky enough to tag along on a private tour of Pendleton?s underground.

Ever since I was an intern at the East?Oregonian in 2007 I?ve been fascinated with the Pendleton Underground ? but for one reason or another I had never gotten around to taking the tour.

What struck me was the level of preservation that the Pendleton Underground Tours has achieved. Living in?Pendleton, the ghosts of the past are never far off, but underneath the city it feels as if much of that history is still alive and well.

Pendleton bills itself as ?The Real?West? and I can hardly argue, especially during Round-Up, when the town fills to bursting with cowboys.

But there is another aspect of the Old?West that the Pendleton?Underground Tours has made sure to highlight, which is the story of the migrant Chinese workers who toiled in obscurity beneath the city streets.

It?s nice to know that while the city rightly celebrates buckin? horses, Wranglers and the rodeo, there are people who have taken time to preserve another facet of Pendleton?s rich history.

?Owen R. Smith

Lucifer may not be destined for evil

This is a comment on fellow reporter Tammy Malgesini?s weekender last Saturday about her husband?s puppy, Lucifer. Tammy?s sister-in-law commented that dogs have a tendency to live up to their names, and Tammy recalled how that seems to be the case with the black German shepherd.

But here?s the rub ? Lucifer literally means ?light bearer.? You can look it up. And it may not even be a proper name of any biblical character and instead refer to the planet Venus. Again, you can look that up.

And it has really nothing to so with the biblical character Satan, though that sort of then spoils the end of one of my favorite films, ?Angel Heart,? but I digress.

I first found the light bearer definition years ago when reading William Peter Blatty?s novel ?Legion,? the sequel to his other horror tour-de-force, ?The Exorcist.? The central character in ?Legion? is detective Bill Kinderman. In a brief scene he tells another character the word?s literal meaning. Kinderman then adds this little tid-bit: The most common form of energy in the universe is light.

That?s my favorite moment in the novel. It?s also the only moment in the novel I clearly remember. (Well, that and one about a carp in a bathtub, but I digress again.)

The abundance of light as energy was the standard when Pocket published the first edition of ?Legion? in May 1984. Science, though, always marches on, and sometimes over a good paragraph or three. Today, physicists, astronomers and cosmologists hypothesize a thing called dark energy makes up nearly three-quarters of the total mass-energy of the universe. Dark energy might be the stuff responsible for the universe expanding. Thus light, shmight.

So what?s that got to do with why birds don?t have teeth, pigs can?t sing or with Tammy?s husband?s dog, Lucifer?

I don?t know. There?s a part of me that thinks having a light bearer in the ever-growing universe can?t be all bad.

But there?s the far less academic part of me that just says Lucifer is a cool name for a dog.

Oh, and Tammy, heal up soon. We need you.

? Phil Wright

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