Archive for July, 2008

The India-Pakistan crisis

July 7, 2008 4 comments

I always appreciate insightful reporting on complicated issues,..

Volatile India-Pakistan Standoff Enters 11,680th Day

…especially when a practical, nonviolent solution is proposed.

Categories: Politics

Gone baby gone

July 6, 2008 7 comments

I am trying to simplify my life and pare down to fewer possessions.  But that isn’t always a lot of fun.  Logically, I only need (occasionally) one car, not two cars.  And if I have to choose which one to keep, then logically it should be the reliable, efficient Honda and not the temperamental antique VW that requires painful contortions for me to work on.

But the bug was a blast to drive.  I loved the way it looked, the way it handled and performed, and the attention it received everywhere it went. The way it could go practically anywhere.  The car had enthusiasm.  It was Bitchin’.

I hope the new owners Richard and Sun enjoy it.

Categories: Personal, VW

Fiscal responsibility

July 6, 2008 1 comment

It always fascinates me to see “Borrow and spend” Republicans try to say this is the Democrats’ fault.  That big dip in the middle there?  It’s the effect of Bill Clinton’s 63 spending vetoes and his advocacy for “PayGo”.  Anyone remember “PayGo” and which administration allowed it to lapse?

The worst part of this is that paying for a war with borrowed money makes it seem unreal.  If we had to pay for wars as we go, it would have a much more immediate effect than a draft.  Or maybe the worst part isn’t the war.  Maybe it’s that massive debt creates the illusion of prosperity along with the certainty of recession.  I dunno, there’s lots of downsides to national debt – which is the biggest?

(Hat tip to Ed at Dispatches From The Culture Wars)

Categories: Economics, Politics

Don’t let the screen door hit you on the ass on your way out, Jesse

July 5, 2008 3 comments

America has one less self-described bigot: Jesse Helms has died.  He is survived by the majority of North Carolinians who re-elected him time and again.  My deepest appreciation to the minority who voted against him, and sympathy for all the eulogies they will have to endure from their neighbors, from the Bush administration, and from the lapdog press.

And in honor of Helms’ passing, I’m going to do something you won’t see very often on this blog: quote Jesse Jackson:

“At the height of his power, he fought for the values of the old confederacy. He resisted the new South. He resisted the opportunity to fight for a more perfect union.”
_ The Rev. Jesse Jackson.

In more detail and with the right amount of invective, here’s Jesse Wendell at Group News Blog.  And Dana at En Tequila Es Verdad.  But amazingly, Pam’s House Blend has one nice thing to say about him… see if you can find it.

I don’t believe in hell, so let’s just say it’s lights out, curtain down on that sanctimonious bigot.  He was a poor advertisement for our nation.

Categories: Politics

It won’t change their minds

July 5, 2008 4 comments

The official report on Building Seven of the World Trade Center is almost complete.  It concludes that tower seven did indeed come down because of structural weakening due to fire.  But not everyone will agree.  Says Richard Gage of the AE911Truth organization:

“Building Seven is the smoking gun of 9/11… A sixth grader can look at this building falling at virtually freefall speed, symmetrically and smoothly, and see that it is not a natural process. “Buildings that fall in natural processes fall to the path of least resistance”, says Gage, “they don’t go straight down through themselves.”

Well that’s why we don’t put sixth-graders in charge of investigating structural failures.  High-rise buildings fall differently than the little strip-mall buildings that Gage has designed.  It’s nearly impossible for them to tip over; they aren’t strong enough relative to their size.  If they fail, straight down is the only way they can fall. Every profession has its crackpots (Gage being a case in point) and I’m just some random science geek on the InterWebs, so obviously you shouldn’t take my word for it.  Dig up some facts. Ask a community of scientists and engineersRead some unrelated books on material and  structural failures.  Get out more.

So the official report will put all this conspiracy talk to rest, won’t it?  Not a chance.  Never mind the impossibility that anyone could carry out a conspiracy this large without someone talking.  Forget that there were detached objects falling alongside faster than the buildings.  Don’t even mention the fact that demolition experts spend weeks preparing a building for demolition. Just skip over the fact that steel loses half its strength at 600C;  there is nothing more impervious than a cherished delusion.  If we could take the super-tinfoil that conspiracy nuts wear around their brains, and make it into flack-jackets and helmets for our soldiers, they’d be safe anywhere. 

Categories: Science & Technology

Starting up

July 3, 2008 3 comments

I have a guy coming to look at my VW tomorrow, and it hasn’t run since last October.  The concern is, no oil on moving parts.  Here’s the procedure:

  1. Spark plugs out

  2. Squirt oil into cylinders, plugs back in, wires hooked up
  3. Disconnect coil wire, crank engine until oil pressure light goes out
  4. Reconnect coil wire, start engine.  Choke on blue smoke.  But love sound of boxer engine.

Damned impressive the 8-year-old battery held its charge since last October.  But I don’t think the engine likes 9-month-old gas.

Categories: Personal, VW

Bush tours country

July 2, 2008 2 comments

From The Nation’s Finest News Source:

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

And now these items:

Categories: Politics

I’m starting to worry

July 1, 2008 2 comments

What if the Large Hadron Collider fails to produce the black hole we’ve all been promised, and we actually have to go on and solve our problems?

(C’mon, it’s not that different from hoping the Second Coming will put an end to all this.  Maybe we should just get busy on solving our problems.)

Update: Lucas sends a link that proposes another source of hope

Categories: Humor, observations

Rant of the day

July 1, 2008 3 comments

Let’s say you work for a magazine subscription department, the gas company, or a credit card company.  You’re designing a form, such as a bill.  You know that input errors are a major expense for your company and an equally large irritation to your customers.  But what the heck; you just throw the form together any old way.  You didn’t bother with testing.  It never occurred to you to wonder about logical flow, or if people over 40 can really make 8-point-type with a ballpoint pen, let alone read it.  Clearly you didn’t bother to ever read a book by Edward Tufte, Don Norman, or Steve Krug.  You didn’t Google “information design” or even just look at Google’s home page and wonder why it’s designed the way it is.  Nope, you just shot from the hip, dude.

Luckily for you, you’re anonymous.  Your office isn’t in Bloomington/Normal and doesn’t have a sign outside that says; “Office of the person who designs indecipherable forms”. 

Categories: Design, Geeky