Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Saturday, September 24, 2005

  A message to the moon

Some Navajo Wisdom:

About 1966 or so, a NASA team doing work for the Apollo moon mission took the astronauts near Tuba City where the terrain of the Navajo Reservation looks very much like the Lunar surface. Along with all the trucks and large vehicles, there were two large figures dressed in full Lunar spacesuits.

Nearby a Navajo sheep herder and his son were watching the strange creatures walk about, occasionally being tended by personnel. The two Navajo people were noticed and approached by the NASA personnel. Since the man did not know English, his son asked for him what the strange creatures were and the NASA people told them that they are just men that are getting ready to go to the moon.

The man became very excited and asked if he could send a message to the moon with the astronauts. The NASA personnel thought this was a great idea so they rustled up a tape recorder. After the man gave them his message, they asked his son to translate. His son would not.

Later, they tried a few more people on the reservation to translate and every person they asked would chuckle and then refuse to translate.

Finally, with cash in hand, someone translated the message, "Watch out for these guys, they come to take your land."
 
Friday, September 23, 2005

  Hurricane Harangue

While estimates climb well past 100B for the cost of rebuilding New Orleans, and Rita is enroute to miss Port Arthur and all the devastation the MSM is craving, I note:

Private charity raised 1B thus far to help the survivors of Katrina. Insurance companies are slated to take a 60B+ hit. The federal government has pledged more than either of these two sources. Remember these numbers the next time you have an argument with a libertarian that believes private charity can shoulder the whole load. Despite saying that, I am awed by the use of the web as means of collecting and distributing charitable capital. Awed, and humbled, by all the people in the world willing to put out a helping hand in times of crisis, now that the web has given them the mechanism.

However, said libertarian might counter that that aid was freely given - b ut Bush will generate the aid promised the old fashioned way - by printing money. Frankly Bush has sounded more and more like FDR every passing day - I sure hope he doesn't run for a 3rd term, though.

By all the thousands of accounts available on the web, Texans are evacuating appropriately. The enormous burst of hot air from the nation’s media broadcasting from Houston probably caused Hurricane Rita to detour northeast by at least 75 miles!

The Texans did flee with their SUVs, causing spot shortages of gasoline. I’ve long hated the gas guzzler tax exemption for light trucks (SUVs). My family drove 45mpg diesels through the various gas crises and I really do hope that America returns to conservation (and more telecommuting, and more hybrid cars) in the coming years. We are part of this problem, people!

My family all drives SUVs now. I'm the sole holdout. Admittedly they live in places where a house payment and an SUV payment are roughly the same.

I hope one of the ways we cover the costs of all this damage is to eliminate the gas guzzler loophole – sorry, family - and hey, perhaps it would make sense to allocate part of the gas taxes to disaster relief in advance.

Update: Dad tells me he has been thinking about a hybrid. OK, that's one. How about we re-outfit all those civilian hummers and ship them to Iraq where they can do some good?

But in the meantime, I admire those that have SUVs for one thing – when you really need to, you can get out of town with more than a backpack’s worth of possessions.

But this keeps nagging at me: how many fled these hurricanes with empty seats? It is impossible to tell given the window tinting on the available photographs. I despise any driver with empty seats for helping clog the roads for two days. An American populist theme for future evacuations – “Clear the road AND save a friend” or “Save on everyone’s gas – evacuate with a fellow human being – remember: YOU could be hitchhiking out of the next hurricane”. "Before fleeing, check your local website for someone who doesn't have a ride". "If you have a spare seat, please stop at the superdome on your way out of town".

If more Americans were charitable as to who sat in the passenger seat it would help erase the specter of 250 flooded buses from my mind. Also, I doubt it would hurt much, in an emergency, for a local government to put out a call for able bodied citizens: "Bus drivers wanted. No experience necessary".

Or - gasp - the government could train a few extra bus drivers in advance. Even 15 minutes in advance might suffice: "This's the clutch, there's the accelerator, don't make tight turns, now go!".

At least - leave the keys in the ignition next time.

I am really impressed by the use of satellite photography to predict the course of the hurricanes. My gut feel is that the weather satellite system – indeed the whole space program – was long ago paid for in spades by reducing the loss of life and property damage caused by major storms. Has anyone done a study as to what a Rita or a Katrina would have done to the Gulf Coast – at today’s population levels – in the early 1960s – before we could track these massive storms accurately?

Meanwhile, newly merged Intelsat and PanAmSat and struggle with enormous amounts of debt and possible bankruptcy. Speaking of bankruptcy, if you’re going to do it, you better do it before Oct 17th. The new law falls short of establishing debtors prisons, but comes close.

One thing dreadfully missing from all the American coverage of Katrina and indeed, most local disasters, is a sense of proportion. One wag called Katrina "America's tsunami". Less than 1100 confirmed dead vs over 240,000? Come on...

Another solution for all those displaced by Katrina: Give each an SUV. Most are big enough for a family of four to live in, and mobile besides. Also, that way the Katrina survivors are indistinguishable from the Rita evacuees, and can slip into safer towns unannounced, in caravan. What use is an SUV in a future era of 7 dollar a gallon gas prices? Instead of leaving them parked, unsold, on dealer’s parking lots, turn them into semi-mobile living space!
 
Sunday, September 18, 2005

  3 quakes

wow, 3 quakes just went by... I wonder where they were from?

(posted 30 seconds afterwards)

update: they were 9 miles north of boulder creek (about 14 miles from here). Biggest shakers I've felt in months. I'm wide awake now.
 
David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


Resume,Songs,
My new blog, NeX-6, My facebook page
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The EFF - keeping free speech in the world
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Jeff, Rick, Ardour, Jack
Prior Rants - Wireless and Wifi in 2015 - not what I dreamed of Saving wifi! Fixing Bufferbloat! Fighting the vend... Virgin Media - Fixing the epidemic of bufferbloat ... 49... and trying to find my navel Wheels down on mars! Tracking the landing of Curiosity, from Seattle spotting NEOs from around venus's orbit Asteroids as lunar orbit resources SOPA is bad news Departing France for England, then 'home'.
Best of the blog:
Uncle Bill's Helicopter - A speech I gave to ITT Tech - Chicken soup for engineers
Beating the Brand - A pathological exploration of how branding makes it hard to think straight
Inside the Internet Mind - trying to map the weather within the global supercomputer that consists of humans and google
Sex In Politics - If politicians spent more time pounding the flesh rather than pressing it, it would be a better world
Getting resources from space - An alternative to blowing money on mars using NEAs.
On the Columbia - Why I care about space
Authors I like:
Doc Searls
Where's Cherie?
UrbanAgora
Jerry Pournelle
The Cubic Dog
Evan Hunt
The Bay Area is talking
Brizzled
Zimnoiac Emanations
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Unlocking The Air
Bob Mage
BroadBand & Me
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Callahans
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