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September 6, 2004, 8:45 P.M.

Of Parties and Paintball Guns: Labor Day weekend in my family is traditionally spent camping on an island in Lake Winnipesaukee. My kids love camping, and so does my wife. But I get bored, kind of like Governor Benson at the Republican National Convention. Well versed in the manly arts, I chop things with my hatchet, make fire, cook meat, and so on, until I kind of run out of things to do. Then I daydream.

After last yearís camping experience, and observing the large number and large size of the boats on the lake I daydreamed about the idea of a horsepower bubble. The idea is that someone could calculate how much boat traffic the lake could handle while maintaining its health and beauty. This would be in the favor of an overall horsepower calculation, a determination of the total horsepower that the lake can safely handle. The horsepower allotment would be divided up, in whatever way the market can bear, much like the way the EPAís cap-and-trade program for air quality works. The program creates a cap on emissions around large sources and regions, and allows air credits to be graded within that region. The cap represents the maximum air pollution load the region can bear. Marine dealers would be given allotments of credits for their own operations and sales, and the total horsepower allowed to operate on the lake would be limited.

The boat traffic problem has not improved, based on my observations. I really think that our horsepower limit idea has merit, and should be considered. Just an idea. Maybe if the Governor is still bored, he could think about it, since he hasnít thought about much since getting elected other than getting good jobs for his friends. He certainly hasnít been focused on education funding, for example.

Not only have I written in the past about boats on the Big Lake, but in April of 2003 I wrote about how the Governor seemed bored after only 100 days in office. Nothing seems to have changed there either.

I think about stuff like horsepower bubbles when Iím bored. Governor Benson apparently doesnít (think, I mean). If he did, he would have thought about how walking out before the Presidentís speech to go to his own fundraiser might possibly have some negative impact on the relationship between his state and the federal government should Bush 43 get re-elected. Technically, the Republican party is Bensonís party (although heís really a Libertarian), and he should have a good relationship with Washington so that he can, theoretically, argue from a position of strength about things like drug imports, unfunded mandates and environmental legislation. But I guess that stuffís pretty boring.

Actually, Iíll bet Benson is kicking himself right now for leaving early, when he could have stuck around and gone out on the town with the Bush twins. According to the New York Post, the Bush Babies and 25 of their closest friends managed to consume $4500 worth of complimentary drinks, mostly vodka, at a downtown nightclub. Iíll do the math for you: thatís $166 per person. That has got to be some kind of record. The best part of the story, though, is that they only left a $48 tip, about 1%. In New York. Honest to God. Maybe they couldnít work the tip calculator in the cell phone. Donít they have people who do that for them?

This summer my kids came up with the idea that we should have paintball guns that only shoot 150 feet, and that we should be able to use them to shoot at boats that violate the 150 foot passing restriction (you arenít supposed to make a wake within 150 feet of another boat, shoreline, mooring field, etc.), a rule that is frequently ignored. A boat with a paintball mark would be given a ticket by the Marine Patrol and, in the eyes of my kids, would be inclined to be more careful next time they go out. Maybe after another weekend on an island they can come up with a way to keep the governor awake. But my idea wonít work. After all, poking people with sticks is rude.

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