Category Archives: news

burma allowing help… finally

I read in the Wall Street Journal this morning that, 5 weeks after the cyclone that devastated their country, the Burmese (“Myanmarish”) government is finally allowing UN relief helicopters to bring food to the needy.It’s truly sad. The government sent the US Navy, who wanted to help, away. And they’ve disallowed UN relief efforts for over a month.A government that can’t be bothered to allow people to help it when it’s in trouble is going to kill its citizenry. 

metering bandwidth

A horrible comparison has been drawn in the following AP article about TimeWarner: “You’re used to paying extra if you use up your cell phone minutes, but will you be willing to pay extra if your home computer goes over its Internet allowance?”

There’s a problem with that statement: lots of cell phone users are going to unlimited time and text plans. I just switched because my personal phone is also my home phone is also my work number. So, switching made a great deal of sense.

My roadrunner bill was for “unlimited” usage. Of course, it’s de facto limited by the speed cap. If they want to meter usage, they could just drop the top speed. It’s how my hosting provider operates: I pay for an “unlimited” 2Mbps pipe to the outside world. I can’t push content faster than that. No per-gig funkiness required.

(Thanks to Ben P on the the TriLUG mailing list for pointing this story out.)

it’s sad to see a 17-year-old go so violently

I no longer drive a Mazda Protege. It bought the farm – as John so eloquently pointed out – Wednesday on my way to work.

So, I was in need a quick replacement.

Enter CarMax, stage left.

I went after work Thursday, they had something I wanted at a price I was willing to pay.

So now I have an 04 Ford Escape Limited.

It’ll be weird driving an automatic again, but ’tis a vewwy nizuh vehicle.

stop trying to make me ‘safe’

Wired’s Autopia has a post this week on the new mandate that all vehicles come standard with a “brake-shift interlock system” to prevent deaths of children putting vehicles in gear accidentally (or on purpose) and then being stuck in a runaway car.

I can speak from personal experience that being in a vehicle with no brake-shift interlock system that gets stuck in gear and starts rolling is not pleasant. However, I can also speak from personal experience that it happened because I was given the keys to unlock our van when I was about 7. My parents rarely did things that were unsafe, as I was a relatively intelligent boy. However, the emergency brake wasn’t fully engaged, and I rolled out of our driveway, across 4 lanes of road in front of our house, jumped a curb, and across another three lanes of roadway. Fortunately, I didn’t jump the second curb, or I would have ended up 65 feet down an embankment crossways of a 55 mph highway.

But the lack of a brake-shift interlock system wasn’t to blame: I was. I’m the one that stuck it in gear even though I knew that I probably shouldn’t. And I’m the one who didn’t stick it back in gear after the fact.

Parents need to be aware of their kids. They don’t need their cars doing their jobs for them. As a driver now, I always start my car with my foot either on the brake, the clutch, or both just because it’s a good idea to make sure the car doesn’t start to roll while you’re starting it. But a brake-shift interlock system isn’t what makes me do it – it’s common sense, backed-up with a personal experience of what can happen if you don’t.

It really bugs me when the government jumps in and tries to do things for us that make it feel more like a nanny than a government. Mandating seatbelts for adults is stupid. Mandating cars have airbags is overkill. Mandating safety for underage passengers may be a good idea, though the parent/driver should be worried about the safety of their passengers anyway. Seatbelt use should be pushed onto insurance rates, not enforced by cops. Airbags are desired by most consumers, and insurance companies give discounts if you have them, so there is an incentive for them to exist even if they’re not legally required.

Treating citizens like children doesn’t make them safe, it makes them dependent. Dependents don’t do things for themselves, don’t take responsibility for their actions, and are generally not healthy for the nation as a whole. We expect children to be dependent on their parents, but our country keeps trying to make its adults dependent, too.

And it disgusts me.