Patt Morrison

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George Carlin remembered, and genetically modified foods -- yum, or bum?

Burning up the phones about this one! The idea of raising money for the state coffers by selling electronic ad space on license plates went over like a lead Hindenburg.

The man behind the bill to study the idea, state Sen. Curren Price, was a good sport to come on the program today, because pretty much everybody bashed on the idea [although we didn't hear from body-shop owners, who may be thrilled at the work coming their way from all the fender benders that may result.]

The ads would only blink on if a car had stopped in traffic or at a red light, but even so, do we need more things to take our minds off driving? One of you blogged that it's ridiculous to require hands-free cell phone calls and ban texting at the wheel but go ahead and put flashing images right in front of drivers' eyes. And if you're close enough to actually see what's being advertised -- you're too close.

Steve Hymon, the former LA Times transpo guy and now author of the transit agency Metro's blog, didn't think too highly of it either -- the distraction factor first among other considerations. Me, I don't like the idea of my car as a rolling ad for things I might not even approve of. BP ads, anyone?

And imagine election season on the freeways. Would Meg Whitman be spending her tens of millions on ads on the car bumper ahead of us? An invitation to political road rage??

The money for the study is coming from the bumper-ad industry, not from taxpayers, Sen. Price reassured us, but I'm always wary of any study funded by the industry that's the object of study. Prediction: the DMV will find that this is not in the interests of Californians.

The Supreme Court lifted a ban on Monsanto using genetically modified alfalfa seeds, but the actual sowing of them will have to wait until the USDA gives the green light. The larger topic of Frankenfoods -- genetically modified food -- got a lot of you angry and you didn't hesitate to call to say so, both as growers and eaters of food.

I'm thinking we need to talk about this more, and beyond just this court case. For example, there's the subject of so-called Terminator or suicide seeds. Imagine growing a tomato plant from seed, but the seeds of that tomato are deliberately sterile, because a company ''owns'' that plant, and if you want to grow more, you've got to buy more seed. It rather upends 10,000 years of human agriculture and summons scary scenarios of barren fields and hunger ... do you agree? Or not? Here's where you say so.

We remembered comedian George Carlin two years after his death with a pair of comedians, Greg Fitzsimmons and Comedy Congress' own Ben Gleib, who said that he became a comedian because of George Carlin. Many of you had actually met him -- Tony, in a liquor store, dropped to one knee in front of Carlin and told him, ''I'm an atheist, and you're my god.'' And caller Jean met him in a grocery store, and by happenstance was right there in the hospital when Carlin was admitted and died. The silence that fell over the place, she remembered, was striking and sobering, and she cried to remember it. I choked up right along with her, and so did Ben Gleib.

Ave atque vale, Mr. Carlin.

I'm at the ALOUD series at the Central Library tonight, talking about the PBS documentary on the Chandler family and its immense influence over how Los Angeles grew and changed.

Next time, why the middle-aged have overtaken the elderly as the most suicide-prone age group, and Sebastian Junger on his documentary about U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

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