Saturday, 23 May 2009


Running the numbers on light rail

When Phoenix was building its light rail system, I made the following two-part bet:
  1. I could take all the money spent on construction and easily buy a Prius for every single daily rider, with money to spare.
  2. I could take the operating deficits for light rail and buy everyone gas to run their Prius 10,000 miles per year and still have money left over.
This bet has been tested in a number of cities, including LA and Albuquerque, and I have not lost yet. Now the numbers are in for Phoenix...

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Thursday, 21 May 2009


The Federal Trade Commission wants to regulate your blog

A little heads-up, via That Other McCain:

This summer, the government agency is expected to issue new advertising guidelines that will require bloggers to disclose when they’re writing about a sponsor’s product and voicing opinions that aren’t their own.  The new FTC guidelines say that blog authors should disclose when they're being compensated by an advertiser to discuss a product.
Like other FTC guidelines, the new policies won’t be bindingBut they may influence which cases the agency decides to bring to court, says FTC attorney [Rich] Cleland. - Business Week
(Slight disconnect in those last two sentences, isn’t there?)

And remember, covert sponsorships remain available for a limited time only!

UPDATE 090522 15:40:  Tam notes:
So, in all the time I’ve been blogging, I’ve yet to get any of these fabulous wheelbarrows of cash that I’m supposed to get for being a part of the Triangle of Death.

Now I discover that, in addition to cash, I should be getting free stuff in exchange for saying nice things about it...

Obviously I’m in the wrong sector of the blogging world, because the free stuff pipeline is pretty sluggish here.
Yep, here too.

And remember, covert sponsorships remain available for a limited time only!

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The wrong kind of wedgie

The Daily Mail:

Casper the cat has learned his lesson after getting his head wedged in a spare tyre.

The mischievous Siamese found himself in the tight spot and needed the help of a fire-crew after a passer-by found him in distress.

The RSPCA were first on the scene and officers took him to Bury St Edmunds fire station in Suffolk where firemen spent an hour cutting him free.
Via: Rachel, who says...
What a tool.  I thought the whole point of whiskers on cats was so they wouldn’t get stuck in places they don’t fit.

Time to “Re-Tyre?”

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Wednesday, 20 May 2009


Numerical control decoration

These are the mock-ups (preliminary design elements) of modules that will constitute a proposed 22′ tall by 50′ long feature wall panel system in a building lobby with each module having a different pattern sculpted into the face. The blocks of wood are 3.5″ cubes and are glued together to form the background pattern.
Links to pictures here.

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Saturday, 16 May 2009


“Statue of Limitations”

It was a life-size rendering of Al, dressed in a toga and wearing a laurel wreath.  In one hand, he held a thermometer (reading 85 degrees, Fahrenheit) and in the other, a globe (it appeared that the Arctic polar cap was melting, but the first thing that popped into my head was a recollection of the logo of the Sherwin-Williams paint company – you know, the picture of an upturned can of red paint slopping its contents over the earth).  To complete this comedy in bronze, there was a bird standing on one shoulder. I guess it was supposed to be a dove, but it looked more like an oxpecker, to me: the kind of bird that eats ticks off the backs of rhinos.
...and what’s more, it’s vanished!

But do not despair, America!  Detective Paco is on the case.

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Long way down...

The observation level of Moscow’s Ostankino TV tower has re-opened, and a few days ago Victor rode up 337 meters to take some pictures.

[Google translation]


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Saturday, 09 May 2009


Washington has other priorities

Alice H.

$400,000 for studying the mating behavior of gay Argentinian males
+357,000 for providing post-traumatic stress to New York

$757,000 ÷ $7,500 = 100.93

$7,500 is the cost of providing one scholarship to one student in the DC Opportunity Fund that Obama nuked.  For the cost of terrifying NYC, plus the cost of asking gay South American men why they like to get drunk and screw random strangers, 101 children in one of the worst school districts in America could have received a year of quality education.


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Thursday, 07 May 2009


Petty, narrow, mean, and insecure

“Sonic Charmer” creates a truth table, and something most of us instinctively suspected becomes becomes abundantly clear:

What two recent faddish news items, both involving previously-unknown women, say about the current state of our culture:

... In both cases we find people being treated as beneath contempt – as not meriting the slightest basic human decency – as, essentially, unpersons – unless and until [or as long as - o.g.] they meet certain conditions.  Susan Boyle met those conditions by demonstrating an unsuspected and unlikely-seeming artistic talent.  Carrie Prejean, meanwhile, excluded herself from those conditions by demonstrating an incorrect opinion.
no opinions knownincorrect opinions
no artistic talent
if and only if beautiful
artistic talent
The priorities for someone wishing to be treated decently are clearly:
  1. Conform to the correct opinions.
  2. Have some artistic talent of some sort that will impress people.
  3. Be beautiful.
At the very least, make sure you conform.
- Two People, Two Beauties: The Boyle-Prejean Matrix
(That’s the essence, but read the whole thing.)

Certainly says something about our “betters,” those who would dictate social and cultural standards.  Like a never-ending high school

High school never ended?  More like junior high!

LATER:  Discussion in the comments at Dustbury.  And backstory from Akaky.

Via:  Tatyana via Charles.

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Tuesday, 05 May 2009


The mystery would be: How to pay for it

If-I-only-had-the-cash... Dept.
This highly important three-rotor Enigma deciphering machine was liberated from the Nazi SS headquarters in Prague II, Czechoslovakia in May 1945.  It is one of only two used in the whole Czech Republic by the Nazis during World War II.  According to the military museum in Prague, a Czech citizen who lived two blocks away from the SS headquarters “rescued” this machine and other electronic equipment towards the end of the war.  When the freedom fighters arrived shortly after, they assumed the Nazis had taken it with them when they rushed out of town...  Examples of the Enigma machines are exceptionally rare and almost all known models are in museums.
Nifty slide show and Antiques World article at the seller’s site.

The bidding starts at $98,500.

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Monday, 04 May 2009


Further thuggery, or “inflammatory nonsense”?


Today, I have the distinctly unpleasant distinction of being on the receiving end of... a bit of dialogue so genuinely awful that- were it not from a source I consider impeccable, and unimpeachable- I would not dare to credit at all.  Unfortunately, I must do precisely this, and personally believe it to be totally, frightfully accurate.  I take no pleasure in relaying it, instead hoping that someone more directly in the business of running such matters down and printing them will carefully document it and- if true- expose it, or- if not- discredit it quickly and finally.  This (as yet unproven) yarn goes exactly like this:

Confronting the head of a non-TARP fund holding Chrysler debt and unwilling to release it for any sum less than that to which it was legally entitled without compelling cause, this country’s “Car Czar” [that would be Steven.Rattner? - o.g.] berated the manager of said fund with an outburst of prose substantially resembling this:
Who the fuck do you think you’re dealing with?  We’ll have the IRS audit your fund.  Every one of your employees.  Your investors.  Then we will have the Securities and Exchange Commission rip through your books looking for anything and everything and nothing we find to destroy you with.
As they say, don’t (automatically) believe everything you read on the web.
But then...

Follow Up: Less Than Desired Duplication
...unlike the supposed experience of Tom Lauria’s client, the tale of woe that has been passed to me does not have as its agent of malice the White House Press Corps, which, while certainly annoying, lacks a certain killer instinct and terror inducing reputation...

UPDATE 090507 23:27:
Earlier this week, we ran a number of stories about how Steve Rattner allegedly threatened hedge funds that refused to drop their opposition to the Obama administration's Chrysler plan.

We asked the White House to comment, and after three days it has become apparent that they have no plans to respond.  The White House has denied earlier charges that it threatened to use the White House press corps to ruin the reputation of a firm that was opposing its Chrysler plans.

By refusing to comment on our subsequent story about additional threats, the White House appears to be backing away from its earlier denial. - Business Insider

Original link from Howard, update via Glenn.

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