Archive for August, 2012


Friday, August 31st, 2012

Did anyone watch the Clint Eastwood thing at the RNC last night? From the reviews I’m seeing, it was an abomination, but I haven’t had a chance to watch it myself.

Slate’s Take on Burning the Man

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Having twice attended a certain annual event in the Nevada high desert, I’ve found that most of the perceptions that exist about said event are formed by people who, at best, knew someone who heard of someone who went there, once. And while the event has grown dramatically over the past 15 years (It’s been going on since 1986, but really got a foothold in the late 90’s), the perceptions of it in society really haven’t changed at all. Especially those of the media that most mis-represents it.

So, last year, sent a reporter out to gather some first – hand experiences of just what Burning Man is all about. His series of essays is enjoyable, fairly even-handed, and definitely worth a read- even if you’ve no intention to ever make the pilgrimage out West.

Ryan Medicare

Monday, August 27th, 2012

So, the latest draft of the Ryan “Pathway to Prosperity” budget calls for a sweeping overhaul of Medicare, with a couple of differences from his earlier framework. Essentially, Medicare (for those of us under 55) will be replaced with a voucher system, where seniors can use government vouchers to purchase their own health insurance from private companies. Or, and this is new, “traditional” Medicare will still be offered as an option. The thought is that the increased competition will help to make Medicare more efficient in order to retain subscribers.

So, essentially, it’s the same as “Obamacare”, except they actually left in the public option.

Partisans in Disguise

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

I heard this article on NPR the other morning. It’s a pretty interesting study about so-called “independent” voters.

It’s sort of like cars- everyone says they want something different from what everyone else buys, but then what happens? The road is full of millions of beige Camrys. People like to _say_ they are different, and independent, but the reality is, most of them are simply more comfortable following established norms.

Windows Update

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

So here I was, working late as usual last night, and about 5:30 (after coming in at 7AM) I set up my computer to check in a large CAD model I’d been working on for most of the day. The check-in process is long and time consuming, and ties up most of my computer resources, so for large files like this it’s usually best to set it up to work overnight and come back in the next morning with it complete.

When I came in this morning and switched on my monitors (yup, twin 21″ flat screens, awesome) I was greeted by the Windows login. Huh? Turns out there had been a Windows update at some point last night, automatically rebooting my machine. Part of what I’d set up to check in was checked in, the other part was missing. So now I have to go through the whole process all over again. Lovely.

But hey, at least I now have the latest update for Windows! *fake grin and thumbs up*.

I’m no engineer, but I know what don’t work.

Monday, August 20th, 2012

So in the awesomeness that is trading labor for goods, today I acquired an Alenex “Transbar Power driven bicycle. While fancy to look at, it is abysmal and I’m not just saying that because I nutted myself trying to stop (yeah check the brakes).

Here’s a link to some other game changers in the world of bicycles.

A bike is about as simple and efficient as you can get, what people try to do to improve it only makes it more complicated / unwieldy / ridiculous.

German Simple

Friday, August 17th, 2012

In the automotive world, there’s a joke about German cars: “Why use 2 bolts when 5 will do?”. For those of you not familiar with machinery from der fatherland, the joke is in reference to the fact that German vehicles seem to be overly complex, often to the point of absurdity, in pursuit of what is often a very simple task. Like using 5 clips, a nut, and 3 bolts to install an air cleaner that Ford uses one wingnut to hold on.

Apparently now everyone’s getting into the over-complication act, and not just with cars. For approximately 1500 years, the temperature on a refrigerator was set using a dial that looked something like this:

Very simple, intuitive, and reliable. You set the dial so that the milk didn’t freeze and the ice cream didn’t melt, and the dial pretty much stayed there until the rest of the refrigerator disintegrated around it.

Now, however, I have this refrigerator, a “GE Profile Artica” or some such nonesense, that came with the house I am currently living in.  Inside the door is a control panel that looks like it was lifted straight from the cockpit of a Boeing 777.  I couldn’t find an image of it online, but there’s all sorts of buttons, digital numbers, and electronic noises going on.  Insanity.  Who needs this much complication in their refrigerator setting?? And, of course, the flipping motherboard, or daughterboard, or sisterboard, or whatever the heck wizardry that goes on underneath all that Buck Rogers futurism, is now on the blink. The freezer has decided to crank itself all the way up to ‘9’, the coldest setting, the refrigerator is condensing water all over the milk, and, I swear I am not making this up, the refrigerator now beeps at me, as if it were trying to relay a message in Morse code.  I was eating breakfast this morning when, from out of nowhere, it began BEEPING, at seemingly random intervals.  And then, it stopped.  The other morning, at 2AM, the same thing.  I’m wondering if I should contact Father Patrick and schedule an exorcism.

GE customer support was, predictably, useless.  They told me to unplug the refrigerator, wait ten minutes or until my lettuce had begun to get limpy, and then plug it back in.  Which I tried, and which did absolutely nothing other than apparently piss the refrigerator off more, since it started beeping at me again. Lovely.

Do they still make ice boxes anymore?

Summer School No More

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

The Buffalo Public Schools decided to cancel summer school this year. Apparently, they did so on the strength of three Powerpoint slides – two of which were graphs with no actual numbers.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

RFID Your Ride

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Starting in 2014, the country of Brazil will be mandating that an RFID chip be implanted onto or into the windshield of every car registered in the country.

Wow. Just…wow. From the article:

“It’s difficult to conceive of any legitimate use of these tags other than to plant RFID receivers in public areas and obtain personal trip information. Note that I didn’t say “for the government to plant RFID receivers in public areas and obtain personal trip information.” The nature of RFID tagging is such that it can be read by anyone with the correct equipment. ”

Frankly, I’m not sure which prospect would scare me more, were I a Brazillian citizen- the government tracking my every drive or any random individual with an RFID-reader. But that’s OK, because much like every other governmental attempt to create registrations and controls (see: Guns, Drugs), only the law-abiding citizens will actually be affected by this law.

Happy Speed Week

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Imagine if, instead of waking up to alarm clocks and traffic reports, this was the first thing you saw when you rolled out of bed today:

It’s Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats, the intersection of the fastest wheeled machines man has yet contrived and one of the most awe-inspiring places nature has created on this planet.