Friday, May 30, 2008

Moving to Canada

From the I-can't-believe-these-people-also-live-in-my-country column, a coalition of right-wing commentators and columnists forced Dunkin' Donuts to pull an online ad because it supports Islamic Terrorism features Rachel Ray wearing a scarf.

The idiots defenders of our freedom claim that Rachel is a terrorist apologist because she showed up in the commercial looking like this:For reference, a keffiyeh looks like this:

Note that the keffiyeh comes in a variety of colors and patterns; the key element seems to be that it is worn on one's head (I will confirm this after tracking down one of our local Lebanese).

I'm a little unsure as to the logic chain followed here, but I'm guessing that it goes something like:

  1. Terrorists wear keffiyehs
  2. A keffiyeh is a square piece of cloth
  3. A scarf is a square piece of cloth
  4. Therefore, anyone wearing a scarf is a terrorist

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Budget Flying

I found an article discussing a new Light Sport aircraft, the X-Air. This has a list price of $47k, which makes it cheaper than your average new BMW. At this price it even includes a panel-mount radio and good engine instruments, although they don't include a transponder (required if you're going to fly anywhere near a major airport).

Obviously there are some trade-offs in making an aircraft this inexpensive, and the main one they have taken is that it is fabric-covered, and thus not as durable in the long run as an aluminum or composite aircraft. However, it has folding wings and it can fit in a trailer, so you could park it at your house instead of at the airport.

The main thing counting against it is that it's slow, with a cruise speed of only 90mph. But if you're not in a tearing hurry to get somewhere, this seems like it could be a fun aircraft.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Historical Gas Prices

Everyone knows that gas is more expensive than it used to be, but this chart shows the price of gasoline indexed to inflation. At the time the chart was made, the inflation-adjusted price had not broken the all-time high in 1918, although it also puts the average gas price at $3.08/gallon (price as I drove by the gas station this morning: $4.09 for regular).

Wikipedia also has a good article on the 1973 oil crisis (the last time gas prices were this high). A major factor at the time was that price controls were put into effect, causing the rationing and shortages. The article also mentions early on that:
Since oil demand falls little with price rises, prices had to rise dramatically to reduce demand to the new lower level of supply.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Back to the ER

Apparently I was over-due for a trip to the ER, since it's been a few years since I last paid them a visit. So fate arranged for that to happen yesterday at our work offsite.

I was playing volleyball with a few of my co-workers, but I haven't played in quite a while, and I was never really a hardcore player to begin with, so the right reflexes just aren't there. So when a fast ball starting coming straight at my upper chest, I couldn't decide whether to bump it or set it, so I kind of did a last-minute set. BAM! Instant dislocation.

With my right pinkie now in a new and interesting zig-zag shape, I quickly decided that immediate medical attention was a Good Idea. I drove myself to Kaiser, checked in, and waited about ten minutes before they called me. I was a bit surprised at how fast they moved me in -- after all, they let me sit for hours with a dislocated shoulder -- but I wasn't about to complain.

The nurse filled in the paperwork while taking my vitals, and the doctor dropped in a couple minutes later. She tested around a little bit, then looked at me and said "Do you mind if I try and straighten it?" I said sure, give it a shot. She gave one smooth pull, and there was my finger, pointing the same way it was this morning. She looked back at me and said "You just saved yourself three shots."

After that, they sent me to x-ray to see if I had chipped the bone while moving things around, then sent me on my way. I was in and out in less than an hour. I have to say I was pretty impressed.

Friday, May 02, 2008

From The Other Side

Interesting article from Der Spiegel about militants making Quassam rockets in the Gaza strip. From the article:
"The other guys are over in Egypt, shopping," he says, adding that the militants are just ordinary people who want to experience the open border with the neighboring country. Will they be looking for ingredients for building the Qassams? "Hardly," the oldest of the group laughs. "They are buying potato chips. We have enough raw materials to last for a few years."

On Engineers

Joahnna sent me this link about an Engineer's Mind and how it works, which was pretty funny. I also dug around and found a couple other links. This one covers engineers and why they are not usually involved in politics, at least in the U.S., whereas this one responds to some research that purports to show that engineers and terrorists have the same mind-set. The comments on the last article seem to be more insightful than the original research.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Band-Aids for Bullet Holes

When I first heard about Clinton's proposal for a gas-tax holiday, I thought "It's a gimmick. Gas is $4/gal, what good is knocking off ten cents going to do?" I had a lot of respect for Obama standing up and calling shenanigans. These types of proposals are the kind of election-year pandering that bloat the budget and have the tax-code looking like swiss cheese.

After I read this Huffington Post article about supporters of the gas-tax holiday (among economists, it's batting zero), I started to wonder who actually came up with this idea.

Which of the two is more offensive to you: A candidate that's dumb enough to think this will help the economy, or a candidate that thinks we're dumb enough to think this will help the economy?