Friday, July 11, 2008

Portland Stuff 3

Portland is a smallish city (metro pop around 2 million) which is known for progressive values, lovely scenery, and a modest cost of living which rather underestimates its amenities. What is not frequently noted about living in Portland is that the cost of Roman letters are through the roof, and a full-on conservation effort is at hand, eliminating excess letters wherever possible.

This stands in marked contrast to California, a veritable orthographic horn 'o plenty, where street signs are marked in multiple languages, and the signs along the roadside indicating legal speeds read "MAXIMUM SPEED" as though the ambiguity of the upper- or lower-bound reading of the standard US "SPEED LIMIT" sign simply cannot stand. And besides, we have all these damn letters; we may as well use them.*


* -- Per Wikipedia: The actual reason the signs read "MAXIMUM SPEED" is that signs that read "SPEED LIMIT" in California are actually only guidelines with respect to the "Basic Speed Law" which says that the maximum speed for a vehicle on a road shall be the highest "reasonable and prudent" speed for traversing that road. That 'prima facie' traffic law provides some amount of wiggle room, as in most cases it is no doubt theoretically possible to argue the maximum "reasonable and prudent" speed for travel on a given road is indeed above the posted speed limit.

Due to the mandatory federal speed limit laws, however, California needs to also have in its arsenal a sign that indicates that the Basic Speed Law is not in effect. This indication is given by the "MAXIMUM SPEED" signs which state quite explicitly what the maximum speed on a road is, irrespective of any higher reasonable and prudent speed.**

** - You learn something every day, huh?

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