You Got to Be Kidding Me!

What I’m Seeing on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008

Posted in The Intrawebs by Stacy McMahon on December 7, 2008

* Obama finally goes into some policy specifics, and …it actually sounds good to me. For the most part. I’ve been thinking for awhile that it makes a lot more sense to spend the downturn investing in basic infrastructure, and it doesn’t get much more basic than roads, bridges, and schools.

* A survey of studies shows that birth control pills, among other chemical pollution, are flooding mammalian species (including people) with female hormones. The article cites some crazy observations among fish and wild deer – 2/3 of a deer species in Alaska have undescended testes, male fish in the UK are producing eggs, male birds singing in a higher voice. No such documented effects in humans, but “compelling [implied] evidence” in sex ratios at birth in industrialized countries. Hilariously, the UK is arguing against proposed EU regulations meant to reduce the hormone pollution, but the EU says they should calm down because the regs have plenty of loopholes anyway.

* Nitro, a cheaper alternative to Acrobat. If a lawyer likes the editing features, it must be good.

* (via Instapundit) DPReview has ten budget-priced digital cameras. The better low-end cameras get, the easier it is to tell who is and is not a talented photographer…

* The Wall Street Journal Law Blog is unhappy about the rise in the number of pro se (self-representing) litigants. In my personal experience, it’s better to have a lawyer.


How Triumph Makes the Rocket III

Posted in The Intrawebs, Two Wheels by Stacy McMahon on October 23, 2008

via‘s new blog, The Sidecar, here’s a funny “documentary” of how the largest-displacement production bike comes to life. I especially like the handling system!

Links for 10/22/2008

Posted in Politics, The Intrawebs by Stacy McMahon on October 22, 2008

*A thread on the Volokh Conspiracy RE the Canadian Human Rights Commission trials of Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant for offensive speech. If you haven’t heard of this, the CHRCs are basically administrative courts that hear discrimination complaints. The twist is that “discrimination” also includes complaints based on person A being horribly offended by what person B said, indirectly, about a group of people to which A doesn’t belong. And the punishments can and do include being banned from publishing certain opinions in Canada. Way to go on that whole free speech thing, eh?

* Funny Toyota Yaris commercial. Would be funnier had they actually fired it with the catapult, but this’ll do. Nice homage to their classic ad campaigns at the end, too.

* Car Lust discusses the pros and cons of owning an old car. I like tinkering and can do a reasonable job of fabricating small parts, but I think the single thing that would go farthest for me in reducing the pain of old car ownership is a great online forum. Luckily there are more and more of these now.

* A Slashdot thread on saving wet electronics. The advice on using pure alcohol (not diluted rubbing alcohol) is good, and I can personally vouch that thoroughly drying a device out can bring it back from the dead – as long as it wasn’t running when it got wet. If it was, hey might as well try anyway…

* And while we’re on Slashdot, the latest update from the Well, duh! department: “Red Hat CEO Says Economic Crisis Favors Open Source” Because it’s, you know, free.

* Damn, there goes the ski season.

* Fark: Dead goldfish in Chicago (of course) gets a voter registration form in the mail!

Wait, What?

Posted in The Intrawebs by Stacy McMahon on October 21, 2008

So I start out to entertain myself for a few minutes by googling “fighter hammerhead“. I’m hoping for some dogfight stories involving the ‘hammerhead stall’, where you climb straight up, then fall backwards and spin around to drop straight down on your opponent (it’s dramatic in CGI reenactment…)

But I forgot that the one-season-wonder sci fi show Space: Above and Beyond had a space fighter called the Hammerhead. Clicking over for a bit of bad-tv nostalgia, what to my wondering eyes should appear but two different sites where someone who takes this stuff way too seriously has tried to weave the SAAB universe into other popular TV franchises.

First, the obligatory Star Trek mashup wherein the SA-43 gains warp drive and a backstory involving anti-Starfleet rebels!

And then this other site that drops the Hammerhead into a lineage of classic Hollywood hardware ranging from the Mk 9 Hawk of Space:1999 (remember that?) to the slick, gyroscopic “bubble fighter” from the 1998 remake of Lost in Space.

Something tells me there’s a world of awful fan fiction out there where Lee Ermey whips the crew of the USS Enterprise into shape to fight Klingons and rescue the first human colonists on some planet distant enough that settlers have to leave everything behind to make the trip, yet reachable in days by advanced military spaceships whenever the plot requires…

Links for Oct 17, 2008

Posted in Economics, Four Wheels, Politics, The Intrawebs, Urban Planning by Stacy McMahon on October 17, 2008

I’ve been too busy to post this week, but here are some of the things I’m looking at:

* Stephen Bainbridge is hinting darkly that we’ll need to keep a close eye on our free speech rights under an Obama administration. The power of blogs: the very first commenter takes him to task for exaggerating the difference between Democrat and Republican smear tactics – and isn’t deleted or banned.

* The ZAP Xebra electric city car (via Instapundit) – I like the discussion of the actual driving regimes and how the electric car meets most of an average person’s mission requirements in spite of its slack 45mph top speed. I did a similar analysis in order to determine that a 200-250cc scooter would meet all my commuting requirements, at twice the mpg of my car. It’s been one of the best large purchases I ever made. It pays to step back and take an open-minded look at how you really do things.

* Jeff Lipshaw at The Conglomerate is praising GM’s board of directors for doing its job and panning the ridiculous idea of merging the General with Chrysler. Yes, upper management really suggested that. Jeff also wonders what kind of government remedy is really appropriate for problems caused by executive stupidity: “But what can we do about “mere” incompetence that imposes severe social costs? As I’ve been telling my corporate law class these last few weeks, current doctrine provides very weak to nonexistent remedies for negligence, no matter how widely its effects are felt.” Well, for starters we could try setting and sticking to a public policy of not socializing the consequences of bad business decisions.

* AutoBlogGreen has video of Audi of America Executive VP Johan Van de Nysschen discussing the “modern diesel engines” Audi is about to introduce in its US models. Vicky, Sean, Larry and I rented a diesel minivan for our trip to France in 2004, and I’d have easily believed it was a gas engine. Smooth, quiet, powerful and no starting problems at all. Roughly, the latest Euro diesel vehicles are getting 40-50mpg with low-sulpher diesel fuel, which is around 25 cents more per gallon than 93-octane gas in the US. That’s a decent business case for a diesel.

* And to go along with that, ABG also has a list of ten diesel vehicles coming stateside in the next couple years. If you can afford them…

* Fairfax County is expecting a revenue shortfall and is planning to make the hard decisions to deal with it. Local governments can’t deficit-spend, which may be something to keep in mind when thinking about what kind of elected office qualifies a person for the White House.

* Also via Instapundit, one-pot meals for around $10. We’re trying to do more of our own cooking, so I like the one-pot bit.

* Howard Wolfson has a ‘premortem’ of the McCain campaign up at The New Republic. What is he missing? The media outright campaigning for Obama, which has to have been worth several percentage points (though probably not the whole election)

* Planetizen is admiring Falls Church’s new urbanist infill development. I drove over to Coleman Powersports Monday and the new apartment blocks going up across the street (next to Elevation Burger) seem to be doing pretty well. The whole Rt 7 corridor has changed a lot in the last few years.

Meet The Fockers Beckers!

Posted in Silly/Funny, The Intrawebs by Stacy McMahon on October 12, 2008

Ok, this is pretty funny. It’s a short film by Audi’s marketing department showing you what kind of people drive the competition…

Parking Sites

Posted in The Intrawebs by Stacy McMahon on September 24, 2008

Websites, that is. Here’s a list of links to find available parking spaces at your destination! (via Planetizen) reminds me of when Vicky’s family used to rent out their yard for parking during Occoquan’s annual craft fair.

Fairfax County Emergency Info

Posted in The Intrawebs by Stacy McMahon on September 5, 2008

FYI for my fellow county residents, here’s a page with links you might want to check in case of disaster.

Of course, in case of disaster this page might not be up, but hey…

Google Chrome – Am I Late to The Party?

Posted in Computers and Software, The Intrawebs by Stacy McMahon on September 2, 2008

So apparently Google announced a new web browser over the weekend while I was busy playing Ticket to Ride. We’ll all be able to take it for a test drive tomorrow, but in the meantime I feel like I’ve heard of this before …is it one of those things that’s been headlined on CNet once a month for the last year?


Posted in The Intrawebs by Stacy McMahon on August 23, 2008

Almost forgot – my mediocre photo of two tigers at the National Zoo made it into this year’s Schmap Guide to DC. It’s an online pictorial tourist map that’s also available in a phone-friendly format.

My tiny little freelance career (emphasis on “free”) continues…