It’s Not My Fault!

~or~ The Economic Collapse in 2015 Was Not Related To The 2012 or 2014 elections . . .

It has been said that the current flailex in the US’ economy is going to result in inflation (re-elect Obama rah rah reporting will come with it) just before the 2012 election, with a recession to follow. Be that as it may be, on a global scale it is now predicted that the total failure to fix (or even recognize) the problems that led to the recent troubles, will bit us in the [deleted] in 2015. So don’t be too surprised.

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On Disproportionate Response

If your kid chases my kid with a stick and pokes him in the back of the neck, despite being 3x my kid’s age, and I take the stick and thrash your kid with it, that is inappropriate. If I sling your kid across the tarmac after he knocks down my kid, that is in appropriate. Not that the thought doesn’t cross my mind, but I wouldn’t.

However, if I am the first one to reach them, I hope you won’t hold your kid’s red ear (from me dragging him to you using it for a handle) against me.

Free Monitor Causes Hair Pulling

I scored a Gateway FPD2185W from the scrap bin at work. It was dead, and had the classic failed capacitors on the power board. Those were replaced, and the signal cable reseated, and the fuse replaced, and now I’ve got a 21″ widescreen LCD on my desk.

. . . running at low resolution. It isn’t putting out EDID data from the VGA port, and my Intel 82865G graphics controller won’t allow custom resolutions. No 1680 x 1050 goodness for me! :( Trust me, I spent all afternoon on this, and it’s out of the question. The computer is a Dell Dimension 3000 running XP SP3 with up to date drivers, and there is NO AGP HEADER on the motherboard! Just a row of holes where the connector should be! I could get a PCI dual-head video card for it . . . but that’s holding up the business end of my fourth monitor output in my computer at work right now. Upgrading the graphics card is likely not going to happen.

I very much hope to be able to get around this problem when I go to a computer a co-worker just gave me. It was increasingly, randomly flaking out . . . possibly due to the dust bunny ranch I evicted from the thing, including dust bridges between components on the high voltage section of the power supply. THAT computer is hip enough to run Windows 7, and I anticipate being able to use ATI’s software to set the resolution right, if Windows doesn’t want to.

. . . but that will have to wait until I fix some geometry. The case is too tall (by the height of two unused 5-1/4″ drive bays) to fit in my desk. I’ll either swap to a smaller case (free, off the scrap pile! ) or I’ll truncate this one to fit the desk. We’ll see!

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Edit/update the next day:

The monitor’s power supply hums like a mosquito. My home is quiet and my work station is not so this monitor is likely to go with me to work on Monday.

$2 Cash. No Taxes.

If there were an hypothetical situation wherein a person bought something from a retailer, and it were not in the vendor’s inventory system, I am 100% fine with the customer slapping cold, hard cash on the vendor’s barrel head.

That’s against the law!

Okay, call the cops. Call the revenuers. Then, instead of straight $2 profit, we have two options:

Option 1) The company spends 15 minutes of employee time putting the item in inventory, generating an invoice, and recording the sale, and the state gets $0.17. The employee makes $15/hour so 15 minutes of time to register the transaction costs the company $3.78 for a $2 sale. It would be better for the company (financially) to GIVE the customer a $2 item than to register a transaction that must be manually entered.

Option 2) The company Regulatory Girl contacts the police. A dispatcher ($30/hr) spends 3 minutes ($1.50 from the State) entering the call. A patrol officer ($30/hr) responds and spends 45 minutes on the call and filling out reports ($22.5 from the State). The vendor now has to spend 6 hours dealing with the ticket ($90 from the vendor) and pay a $10 fine PLUS paying the $0.17 (with interest) in taxes they (the scofflaws!) INTENTIONALLY FAILED to pay on the transaction. Now between the State and the vendor there is a net WASTE of $120 from the economy

. . . over a $2 transaction.


********

Officer Dave says: “Who reported this? Seriously? You called the Police to report a $0.17 failure to pay sales taxes? You, ma’am, are a tool. My report will indicate a total lack of proof that this “crime” ever happened, and if you keep talking I might lay charges against you for filing a false report. Never do this again.”

. . . Then the company loses $30 in man-hours as the employees all make fun of the whole affair instead of being productive . . .

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoo…

…oooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Photoshop stopped zooming with the scroll wheel on my trackball. This is horrible. This changes how I do my yob. I turned to Mr. Google for help. Turns out there is a checkbox in the general preferences in Photoshop to control this zooming behavior. I re-checked it and did not question why it was unchecked.

Crisis averted, problem solved.

Regarding the My35 I-35 Corridor Advisory Committe Plan

I read the report after I read the KXAN article about it. Yes, I read it. I will give you perhaps too much credit and assume you at least read the KXAN story. I read the report’s introduction and skimmed the rest, then read all the Segment 3 parts (Segment 3 is my back yard). From the outset, taking the report at face value, I think it is as good an effort as can be expected and maybe even a good starting point for discussions. The goal is admirable and some of the ideas really are outside-the-box. . . and some of them are just plain dumb. It was part of the plan for the Committee to consider ideas based on merit rather than availability of funding, but this is (sigh) unrealistic. Funding must be considered, and we must DO SOMETHING about the fact that your Elected Heroes in Austin keep raiding the gas tax money to pay for General Fund projects!

They also did not consider feasibility, right-of-way, or environmental concerns. Well that’s fine, but when you go for the brass ring in this manner you will be 100% guaranteed to have your plans foiled by environmentalist whackos, property owners, and the sheer impracticability of some of your ideas. That lead me to not delete my initial reaction to the KXAN article:

This is stupid as [deleted].

For interstate and international traffic, we will need expanded rail capacity. We will need expanded automobile capacity in the city centers also. These are taken for granted in the following commentary. What I am on about is a few of the ideas specifically proposed for the Central Texas region (Segment 3).

It is also noteworthy that NOBODY will ride passenger rail in the near-to-mid term future. We will fight it the whole way, then a sub-optimal rail line will be used (see the current CapMetro example) and then it will be too late to do anything about it. Rail is a non-starter for passenger transport IN major cities in Texas. Freight rail: viable probably. Passenger rail: DOA, a financial boondogle doomed from the outset to failure.

“The I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee represents the most robust, direct and longestrunning public involvement effort in the history of transportation in Texas and is the first of its kind to be used in the nation”

That’s swell, but I listen to the news all day every day at work, and I had no idea most of these public involvement discussions were underway. I did hear about a couple of them . . . they took place during my commute time.

“The focus groups were comprised* of members of the general public that were recruited from the locations listed above. Participants were recruited via flyers, past recruitment lists, online advertising, newspaper advertising and posts to Facebook groups.

Nobody reads the newspaper. Only a freak show reads or joins a Facebook group or follows twitter for a STREET (note: freak shows tend to like light passenger rail for Austin). Nobody reads newspapers. Flyers are instant litter. Past recruitment lists will reflect a very small group indeed.

The Austin metro area has a million or so people. Highest attendance at one of their supposedly well-advertised workshops was 29. That would be in the high 0.002% range. If you can’t get a full 0.003% of the public to bother to attend, you need to turn off the lights, hang your head, tuck your tail and go home because you have FAILED to arouse the public’s interest.

You
Must
Start
Again!

This time make sure the people know you are doing it and can make it to the meetings! Otherwise, you only have the interest of people whose “thing” is transportation, and the loonie fringe. If you want considered thoughtful input from the rest of the community, spend a few bucks telling people about a website where they can go and submit and comment on ideas. Getting a few activists together at the Town Hall is so last-century.

“Use and improve upon technology, such as electronic signs, use of AM and FM radio frequencies, smart phone applications, and on-board vehicle communications systems to provide updated traffic information, alternate routes and other traffic management solutions to travelers
on I-35.”

This is possibly a waste of time and money. Nobody listens for radio traffic alerts on a different station than they are already listening to . . . we sit in traffic and listen to our stations. On-board vehicle systems, really? In my old car? Mandated (paid by whom?) in your new car? And SMART PHONE apps? You want people to use their handhelds MORE in traffic? Signs and breaking in to the public airwaves on the most popular (or all) channels may be the way. Smart phone apps is not the way.

Discounted highway 130 toll fees for trucks? Unless the toll fee is LESS than the cost difference in diesel burned sitting in traffic ($3?) they will take the non-tolled non-$20 route! They are in business to deliver for lowest cost after all.

“Improve incident management and related agency coordination so that accidents and disabled vehicles can be cleared more quickly and delays can be minimized.”

This. It is an ongoing mystery why a fatal wreck in Houston is cleared in 10 minutes and a fender-bender in Austin shuts down the highway for two hours.

“Impose left lane restrictions for trucks through downtown areas and congested sections of I-35.”

Yes. This can be done immediately and it won’t cost a million dollars

“Consider double-tracking rail lines to accommodate more freight and intercity passenger rail, where feasible.”

Yes. Good luck with that through the “rich” side of town.

The Lone Star Rail line: We’ll alleviate freight rail traffic problems by eliminating a freight rail artery, and replace it with a non-used passenger line on the same track? Huh?

How do you plan on having people go around town to relieve congestion from intracity traffic? Or are you doing this for the tens of thousands of San Antonio-to-Dallas daily commuters?

A managed toll lane? On a highway already fully paid for by the people currently using it, TAKING AWAY a free lane of traffic?! R U Serious!? The people HOWLED when they started talking about taking away lanes of traffic and putting in tolled lanes when CAMPO was at it. Now you want to take away a free lane of traffic from one of the most heavily driven rush-hour highways in the nation? You want to actually make congestion on highway 35 WORSE by reducing free lanes of travel from three to TWO? What IDIOT thought this was a good idea? Now is the time to start writing your Elected Heroes to demand this does not happen.

I’m for taking the toll off 130 and redesignating it as the interstate, but what a stupid, stupid idea to reduce free lanes through the heart of downtown! Almost everyone I know avoids the toll roads because they are tolled, and they will avoid the tolled I-35 lanes also. Intracity truck traffic will pwn joo! I continue in my unenlightened state: How in the world does a managed toll lane on a previous free way reduce traffic?

Then they want to WIDEN the BRAND-SPANKING NEW 130? It’s a big, beautiful, EMPTY highway. I-35 congestion is daily commuters in the city. Simply removing the tolls won’t help I-35 during the heaviest congestion times, and the rest of the time traffic is very light. Moving interstate traffic to 130 is swell but I have severe doubts about the need to widen that highway in even the mid-term future!

If you want to talk about ADDING A LANE to IH-35 and making THAT a managed-toll or HOV lane, or double-decking IH-35 through Austin with added lanes, NOW you’re talking!

Upgrading 183 to a full freeway without all the lights would have a good effect. If it were a limited-access highway with surface streets the whole way through town (like IH-35 currently is) then that would be spiffing. If they have cantilevered elevated traffic lanes all the way through like on the North side of town, that could mean MORE lanes on the same footprint, even!

We currently have NO Southern California-style genuine multi-level highways. Why?

“Our current funding system is unsustainable”

These project ideas are expensive but that is already taken care of! Every gallon of gas and diesel sold is heavily taxed, and the legislature never spends a dime of that gas tax money on anything else but road projects . . . OH WAIT our Elected Heroes in Austin ROUTINELY BLOW ALL THE GAS TAX FUNDS ON NON_TRANSPORTATION B.S.! Pretty soon we’ll be out of money to maintain the roads . . . oh, wait! Spending the money we were gas-taxed with the ostensible goal of building and maintaining roads, as if it were regular general funds money, is unsustainable.

If the solutions proposed for Central Texas were any indication, the solutions proposed for the rest of the IH-35 corridor will also prove impracticable at best.

Thanks for trying.
********

* In this report, they repeatedly used “comprised” improperly, where they should have used “composed.” It’s a quibble, but a pet peeve of mine.

We All Worried It Would Be Iraq That Destabilized The Middle East

Saddam Hussein was supposed to be a destabilizing influence in the Middle East. We had to take him out, lest he crazy up the whole works and it all come crashing down. Now, it seems, we will have missed the call. It was liberty after all.

The statists were right . . . democracy is dangerous to the establishment . . . provided the establishment is autocratic . . . or anti-islamic (read: not a caliphate)?

Riots in Egypt against the dictator there follow unrest in Tunisia. Curiouser and curiouser. One wonders . . . do the People seek freedom, or do the muslims seek a Nation? What is the real source of agitation, and who will come out of the fray on top?

And when will the mainstream press see fit to report the story?

Austin Drivers STINK!

I was running way late for work this morning, and as I got on the highway I found traffic was very light. I thought this would make for a pleasant commute, but I was mistaken. It turns out, when traffic in Austin gets lighter the drivers are stupider. Those driving in rush hour in Austin will be surprised that such a thing is possible, but trust me it is so.

Refer to the following image (click to see full-sized)

Photobucket

I was on the northbound frontage of I-35 in lane 1 at the light. A white CARTS car was in front of me. We turned left on the bridge across the highway and . . they . . were . . going . . too . . slow . . because they were going to turn left to go down the South frontage of I-35. As they merged into the left turning lane, and I continued straight, I accelerated as they got out of my way. Then some JACKASS in a full-sized green GM pickup cut me off, and then they cut off the white CARTSmobile. There was about 3 or 4 carlengths of clear lane for the CARTS car to slow to a stop, and into this space the green truck cut both of us off. At maybe 25MPH, with nowhere near enough room to stop. Then they decided this was not where they wanted to turn, and boltered back into the #1 lane . . . to where my car was. My instincts told me there was nobody in the #2 lane where the truck had just been a moment before, so I swerved over into the #2 lane and nailed the gas. I proceeded through the intersection and cut the green truck off because [deleted] that guy.

They turned left at the next intersection.

Note the hands in the following image. These point out the different places where the truck could have made a safe “New Jersey left turn” instead of risking my car and my life, as well as the cars and lives of their fellow drivers.

Photobucket

Ass. Hole.

********

Next up on the hit parade:

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Then I found another TWO of them at the other end of Sam Bass Road. The road turns North, and it is the North/South route intersecting 1431 which runs East-West in the above photo. The left turning cars have a green/yellow arrow and green/yellow/red round lights to guide them through the intersection. I pulled up behind a half-dozen cars as the light turned green-left-arrow. Nobody went forward. Then it sounded like New Jersey as everyone who did not have their heads up their [deleted]s started honking. Not me, it wouldn’t have done any good. They were all honking at the female driver in a silver 3rd gen. Mitsubishi Eclipse who failed to drive when her light turned green. As the light turned to yellow-left-arrow she finally went through the intersection. Everyone was going through the light at this point, arrows and red lights be damned . . . except for this one female driving a white Honda Odyssey (with the Honda badge pulled off the backhatch). She saw the green arrow turn yellow and the green circle come on

. . . and stopped DEAD in the #2 and #1 lanes of Eastbound traffic on 1431. In the lanes. This was my turn to honk. Finally TWO cars which had been stopped (because they did not have the right of way as long as Minivandriver’s yellow arrow was lit) came South across 1431 and she drove off. I laid down a strip of rubber all the way around her into the #2 lane.

WTFPPL.

Then to make up for letting me survive this morning, TWICE on the same stretch of road on the way home, a car (two different cars) tried to zoom up in the right lane and cut me off to pass. In heavy traffic. I accelerated to prevent them cutting me off. If I can mostly-safely avoid it, I don’t let people cut me off. Yes, it means a shorter-than-safe following distance between me and the car in front of me. That, I can control. I can brake when I please or ditch onto the median if the car in front goes nuts and jams the brakes. What I can’t control is some jerk who does not know how long the back of his sporty little black Audi or fancy new F-250 is, and they pull a reverse PIT on me at 45MPH in traffic with unpredictably-disastrous results.

Someone please get our Elected Heroes in Austin to put drivers education back on the mandatory high school curriculum in Texas!

Donald Trump For Private Citizen!

The Donald was on with Michael Savage again today. The more I hear that guy talk, the lower falls my opinion of him. If you want someone who can whip up a government-educated crowd into cheers, he may be your boy. If you want someone who can get votes from thinking people, keep looking.

I had the strangest impression that Trump is like bizarro-Obama. Well, that’s not entirely fair. Obama’s campaign was completely free of substance. Trump at least has some definite ideas. He’s on the other side of the political aisle, but he’s only a step or a step-and-a-half ahead of Obama on substance, and that ain’t saying much.