Archive for February, 2011

Longevity

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Apparently, one of the side effects of “the great recession” has been that people are hanging on to consumer items for longer periods of time, and not upgrading with the same fever as the boom times of last decade. Average car ownership is over five years, which is apparently some sort of record. Cell phones are up to a year and a half, and computers are last longer as well.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the economy starts picking up again – will we all turn back into consumer whores at the stroke of midnight, or will we end up hoarding empty milk cartons and used saran wrap like our Depression-surviving forbears?

Brooklyn Tobacci

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Cigarettes are freaking expensive these days, there’s no doubt. One woman in Brooklyn has grown tired of paying so much money for death sticks, so she’s started planting, growing, and harvesting her own tobacco.

They’re using the power of taxation to coerce behavior. That’s not what taxation is supposed to be for.

Yeah, there are a lot of things taxation isn’t supposed to be used for. Still gets used for them, though. Any over/under’s for how many days it’ll take for this to be illegal?

Bethune Lofts

Friday, February 25th, 2011

It looks like the loft renovation trend is going to be hitting a building in North Buffalo. Bethune Hall, former home of the UB Architecture School, has been abandoned for years. Plans are afoot to turn it into an apartment building.

Hopefully that can help get some more residents into University Heights to bolster the neighborhood a little bit.

My Kind of Future

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

/*cue Don LaFontaine voice

In a world where CAFE never existed, where fuel economy was dictated by the market, and not some tin pot EPA dictator, and where an SUV shape never flowed from the pen of a single Detroit designer…

The Real American Car lives on.

Wisconsin

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

I haven’t written anything about the Wisconsin situation – I don’t really have any editorial comment to offer, so I figured that I’d just keep my mouth shut for once. But I thought that this was pretty funny.

Apparently, users briefly couldn’t get to the pro-union “defendwisconsin.org” web site from the Wi-fi network in the Capitol building. Well done, Governor Walker. That will certainly stop them in their tracks.

Teacher Layoff Methodology

Monday, February 21st, 2011

The Buffalo School District is trying to get in on a new piece of legislation before the state government that would remove the mandate that teacher layoffs be done by seniority. Instead, they want to terminate based on evaluations and other objective measures.

Hallelujah. It’s like someone realized that the best way to run our schools might not be to continue doing everything exactly the same way that’s been failing for years.

Lojack for Students

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

The Anaheim Union High School District of California has come up with a new scheme for battling truancy: track students with GPS units.

Students with four or more unexcused absences are issued a GPS unit, which they must carry with them during the day. Their locations are checked five times a day – when they leave home for school, when they arrive, lunchtime, when they leave school, and eight PM. In addition to location tracking, students are assigned to a mentor for one-on-one planning sessions to avoid future truancy.

This is an interesting solution to a common problem – although I have to wonder how beneficial it really is to the other students to divert funds from education to technology, in the interests of filling the classroom with students who would rather not be there.

New Fangled

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Technology be damned.

Damn Inflation

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

A pretty insightful article on how the value of a human life has steadily increased in recent years. The EPA and FDA and other government agencies keep ratcheting up how much money should be spent to ensure the safety of one human life, which in turn increase costs to businesses. I suppose it’s not a good move for any politician to declare, “We need to start devaluing human lives!”

I heard a great question on the radio the other day. “How did we become the most powerful country in the world [in the early 20th century] without the EPA, the FCC, the FDA, and these regulatory agencies sucking our tax dollars dry?” The obvious answer is that safety conditions for workers were substandard and our grandparents had to literally break their backs for less pay. Still, we’ve gone from one extreme to the other…a big step for the US economy would be to find a happy medium between regulations and low operating costs.

Robotic Safe Cracking

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

So, what do you do when you get your hands on an old safe with an unknown combination?

Build a robotic safe cracker, of course! It’s either that or die of curiosity – the Magic Safe could contain anything!