Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pet Peeve of the Day --

The Automatic Nanny.

A message board questioner asked if anyone had some advice about getting out of a speeding ticket -- or, at least, not letting his insurance company find out that he'd gotten it. Over half of the replies were something like this one. "There's a guaranteed way to avoid speeding tickets: don't speed."

Great, yeah, I'm sure that helps the guy out. Regardless of what you think of the ridiculous speeding laws, (45 zones that turn to 35 just in time to go down a hill, and cops that park below that giving 43-in-a-35 tickets. Yes, I've seen that happen to a friend while I was in the car,) the point is that you shouldn't bother to stick your nose in the questioner's business. He asked a simple question, and if you don't have a constructive answer, just leave it be.

This brings me to: No, really, I mean it!

Signs that tell you not to do things that you're already not allowed to do. Red means stop in Beaverton! Great, because in Portland it means ram the next car you can find. No driving on shoulder! On every convenience store door, Don't buy alcohol / tobacco / bombs for minors! Thanks for the heads up, those 6-year-olds wanted some whiskey. Drug free zone! So, when you're NOT in a drug-free zone (they've got prostitution-free, too,) you can shoot up whatever you like with abandon?

I want to get some ballpoint pens made that read: Caution -- do not stab into eyes. Serious injury may occur.

Friday, August 18, 2006

All your bikes are belong to us!

So, yesterday I hooked up with a hammerfest group ride that I hadn't ridden with in a while. This thing is a pseudo-race, with a reasonably big turnout, a designated "course" and "finish line," and some decent hills for its distance.

Mostly, the group are professionals who ride fast and aggressively, have raced at one point or another, but really don't have time to pin a number on very often. There's still a few pretty fast guys that show up, though, and it makes for a good show.

As with any group, they already have their alpha-males all lined up, and these get half-sarcastically grumpy at some skinny college kid showing up and changing the dynamic around.

There's a section where they run a light paceline, letting everyone warm up, and I pulled into line and sent signal.

One guy said "Hello," but another said, "Hi, how are ... Oh. It's you."

How could I resist? You know I have to say it. So I did.

"How are you gentlemen !!"

No robot voice, suppressing my urge to giggle maniacally. I didn't tell them they were on the way to destruction or anything, though. That would've been mean.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I normally try to stay out of divisive political issues here, because you've already got your opinion and aren't likely to listen to mine.

I AM amazed at how big of morons many people are.

But this whole Plan B nonsense is just going to far.

There's a bunch of people with nothing better to do whinging about this pill, wanting to -- well, they'd make it illegal if they could.

They'd make sex illegal too, I'm sure.

Listen, you morons. Plan B is contraception. It is not an abortion.

Why are some people so convinced about their delusions that they are not interested in thinking?

Well, Wendy Wright of the Concerned Women for America (and what's with these milktoast names for these deminazi groups?), who according to the above article believes that her "earlier input was ignored," get off your high horse and get a fucking clue.

Could people who are not doctors please stop trying to pretend that they have any idea what they are talking about with regard to the "harmful effects" that medicine will or will not have?
Pet Peeve of the Day:

PowerBars, and, Chris Carmichael

PowerBars lose out for three reasons: First of all, they've recently changed their ingredients to include quite a bit of high-fructose corn syrup. While they claim this is somehow to please consumers, everyone knows that this highly-processed, corn-derived stuff has one main advantage: it's dirt cheap. I'm not going to get too much into the mess right now, but if you want to poke around, you'll find plenty of research showing that this stuff is horrible for you.

Energy bars are not cheap. Powerbars aren't any cheaper than Clif bars, and instead of HFCS, they use Organic Brown Rice syrup -- in fact, the whole Clif bar is certified organic.

Whether you think that Organic matters or no, the second reason that the sticky, nasty HFCS-dominated powerbars suck is that they're only edible in a 10-degree window. If you can get the stupid wrapper off.

Under 60 degrees, and a powerbar is a brick. You'll break your teeth trying to tuck into this thing; you may as well be chomping an ice cube.

Over 70 degrees, and a powerbar is jelly. You'd do better to punch a hole in the wrapper and find yourself a straw. Useless!

Finally, I get sick of cram it down your throat marketing strategies.

If you've read ROAD magazine, you'll find a monthly training column by Chris Carmichael, mostly famous for having a marketing campaign with -- er, "coaching," -- one Lance Armstrong.

This month's article discusses sports nutrtition: what to eat when, that kind of thing. Of course, there are many energy drinks and bars, but rather than "drink some sports drink," he advises on how much PowerBar Endurance one ought to drink. Same with substituting PowerBar Performance for "energy bar."

Blah, blah, blah.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What would Freud say?

Granted, Sigmund Freud has been discredited by the vast majority of modern psychiatrists, who consider him "confused" when they're being political, and a sex-obsessed hack when they're not.

So what does it mean when a theme recurs frequently in your dreams?

One of my most commonly-remembered sorts of dreams is one in which I'm involved in some kind of armed struggle, anything from "Counter-Strike" style shoot 'em ups to "Highlander"-esque swordfights.

The problem is, my weapon won't work. Guns misfire, the trigger pull is impossibly heavy, there's no ammo. Swords bend, break, or are uselessly dull and unbalanced.

Frequently, the weapon will function fine in taking out nameless, faceless enemies -- the everpresent hordes of kung fu commandoes in black -- but when it's crunch time, the end game, fighting the boss -- it's worthless.

What do you think THAT means?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jimmy doesn't let on how funny he is at first. This is the same way the guys who are fast, also like Jimmy, don't really reveal that fact when you first go for a ride with them. They just tool around like, whatev, this is fun, see, we're out for a ride! When really, it's more like Fezzik and Wesley in The Princess Bride.

"Look, are you just toying around with me or what?"

"I just want you to feel you are doing well! I hate for people to die unhappy..."

So the fast guys are all, see, we're being "inclusive" and letting the rest of you all feel good by keeping up or being the first one to the top of the hill and stuff. Then they decide some sign is a sprint point or they're going to have a little go just for kicks, and you look at your legs like "Come on, eh? Can't you, um, give me a little help here?"

But he's got one of these blogs now, too. And if you're liking the bike racing, you should go check it out.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I have a new term:

"Freedom Gut."

As in, what most Americans sport, having eaten too many Freedom Fries.

I've overall tried not to rant about the fat, lazy American population as a whole. It would be too easy, and go on too long. I'm not going to make a big deal about it now, but I wanted to share this great new phrase with you. It's all yours.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I'm not moving to China.

Just yet.

Still, a few points of note: Did you know China has freedom of speech guaranteed in its constitution?

It's true. And, according to The Economist's August 4th issue, it's starting to get used. Recently, the Chinese government considered a law banning certain types of news reports without government permission, the penalty being a fine of between 50,000 and 100,000 Yuan ($6,250 - $12,500). Public outcry forced the law to be retracted.

As for the United States, in June President Bush signed a law that would increase the fine for "indecency" on television tenfold, to a maximum of $325,000 "per incident." Consider that an "incident" refers to the display of the material by a single affiliate, and that large, nationwide programming can be broadcast on over a hundred of these.

One exposed nipple? Thirty-Two Million dollars!

Dare I make a joke about freedom of the press and "priceless?"

Other items of note:

United States's Debt 9 August 2006: $8,448,162,775,201.94

United States Federal Government Deficit FY2005: $333 to 427 billion

Chinese Foreign Reserves (Money in the bank): $925 Billion USD, mostly in US funds.

and

US GDP growth: +3.7%, Q1 2006
US Consumer Prices (inflation): +4.3%, June 2006

Chinese GDP growth: +11.3%, Q2 2006
Chinese Consumer Prices : +1.5%, June 2006

THAT IS TO SAY that, in the United States, inflation exceeds growth by 6/10%, whereas in China growth exceeds inflation by 9.8%

ALSO in the United States, Wages are growing at a rate of 3.9%. This means that Real average wages are declining at a current rate 4/10% annually.



I don't have the time to dig up the rest of these numbers, but this sort of thing has been the trend for the past 5 years, at least.

"They" keep saying that China's economy is "overheating," and that the US's will "recover," but so far it hasn't happend.

To be fair to the United States, it's much easier to grow when you're starting at a lower point. China's GDP per capita was estimated in 2005 at $6,800, whereas the United States' was $41,800.

In 2000, however, it was $36,200, while China's was only $3,600. 89% increase versus 15%.

Information from The Economist and the CIA's World Factbook.

I really do race my bike!


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I hate television as much as the next guy, but. No, wait, scratch that. I hate television much more than the next guy, and one of the things that I particularly don't like, next to bad commercials, is theme songs. Today's Strong Bad e-mail puts it simply:

"Theme songs are just an excuse for show makers to make less show." -- Strong Bad

I couldn't have said it better myself.

"You're basically asking me to dedicate 2 minutes ... to what is essentially a commercial for something you're already watching!"
--

Okay, so, next, we have "Ergo" keyboards. You know what you do. You bastards.

These are those keyboards that are shaped entirely wrong, with the "TGB" column split from the "YHN," and everything is sideways, with some keys bigger than other ones. These annoy me so much I basically won't use a computer that has one. The first reason these are no good is that they're unlike most other keyboards, so if you get accustomed to one, it'll foul up your typing on a "real" keyboard, and vice-versa. (This, by the way, is why I never learned the Dvorak system very much, despite it being much more efficient than QWERTY.) The other reason is that not everyone types like you do!

Yours truly is left-handed, and my name begins with the letters T and Y. When I type those letters together (as in the word "type," even), I use my left index finger to roll across the T and onto the Y. This is much better than having to take up both index fingers. Same for words that start with "GH," though "Ghost" is the only one that comes to mind. No, I can't think of a "BN" word.

But still, the point remains, people can type plenty well with QWERTY keyboards. I can push 90 words / minute on a good day, and beyond that I'm not thinking enough anyway.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sometimes, I cheat a bit in nethack.

While doing this, I found this out:

If you copy something in Windows XP, it creates a file called "Copy of FILENAME."
If you do that again, you get "Copy (2) of FILENAME."
Predictably, a third time yields "Copy (3) of FILENAME."

Now, delete copy (2), and duplicate copy (3) again, and you'll get another "copy (2)," since that slot is now empty.

However, if you delete the first "Copy of FILENAME," and the third, leaving only the original and Copy (2), a strange thing happens.

Copy the original again, and it's "Copy of FILENAME," just like before.
But if, INSTEAD, you copy "Copy (2)," and it becomes "Copy (3) of filename," bypassing the "Copy of FILENAME" altogether.

WTF?

EDIT: This only seems to happen if you're copy / pasting in a given folder in a given time. If you've shut down the computer or something, and then copy again, you just get "Copy of copy of copy (2) of FILENAME," or whatever.

O-kay...

Friday, August 04, 2006

"The Aztecs had believed the world would end in one of four ways: earthquake, fire, flood, or jaguars falling from the sky. Here there would be no fire. Nor earthquake nor flood ... leaving only the jaguars." -- Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars.
---
Shocking!

In movies and television shows, defibrilation and CPR abounds. It seems like if someone has a heart attack, a few quick pounds on the chest or a zap or two will make them right as rain.

I always wondered: really? Does it work that well?

In Canada, a new test is helping EMT's not waste their time with hopeless cases.

It points out that, among 1,240 patients brought to the hospital after cardiac arrest, 41 survived. That's just better than 3 per cent, folks.

Don't get your hopes up.


(Of course, it may be much higher if you are, say, in a hospital and have a defibrilator at your bedside when the attack occurs.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pet Peeve of the Day: Which one first?

How about -- the Fine Print. Okay, so commercials tend to have fine print, and nobody really reads it. It's because of some law or other, right?

But, seriously, this has gone too far. There's been a few for financial services companies lately -- one for ditech.com comes to mind -- with pages of fine print. Since they give you about 0.37 seconds to read each page, it's entirely impossible to read unless you've tivo'ed it, and then bothered to rewind it, just to watch the commercial. Oh, no, wait, the font is so small that the garbage resolution of the TV makes it illegible anyway. They could be saying "side effects include severe gastrointestinal distress and being attacked by martians."
Also, if you haven't played Nethack lately, you should get back to it. If you have never played it, you're seriously missing out. None of that "tile" crap, neither. It must be played in its full ANSI goodness.