Friday, June 22, 2007
What happens when you crash a BMW into a Volvo head-on while both vehicles are traveling at 60mph?
As the announcer says: "...next time you're on a country road, counter-flow or about to overtake - remember this."
Thursday, June 21, 2007On today's shooting of an Illinois sheriff's deputy, followed by a car chase and hostage-taking incident at a bank in tiny Arcola, Illinois, population 2,500, home of Old Order Amish and hometown of the author who created Raggedy Ann and Andy - a modern day Mayberry -
"These things happen in big cities, not a little town like Arcola," said [an eyewitness]. "You don't think it will happen in your town."Unfortunately - oh, yes, they do. The Arcola incident fortunately has not yet claimed a life (although the deputy is in critical but stable condition). Crime may be such a common occurrence in large urban areas that we take it as a given hazard of city living until it happens to us, but awful things certainly do happen in the smallest of places. That's where some of the worst have taken place.
Delavan, WI: "This is a real big killing in a small town, and it's something that just doesn't happen here..."
There are many, many more. Like all bad things, it's always more comforting to think it will happen to someone else, somewhere else.
[For an interesting look at why multiple murders happen so frequently in small places, see "Mass Murder: What Causes It? Can It Be Stopped?" by Katherine S. Newman, available as an edoc and PDF file]
You've seen them on Joy Division, New Order, etc. covers: clean, classic, iconic Eurostyle typefaces. Note, they're only available in Windows TruType at the moment, but I'm not complaining.
They're gratis, and they can cool a room like no-one's business.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Via commenter Dr. Confused on Feministe, a link to this very funny French television advertisement for Hansaplast condoms. A very different perspective from American prophylactic ads, even the droll Trojan Man.
Is waiting for the Red Line like pulling teeth?
Thursday, June 14, 2007Another from the "Not From The Onion But Shoulda Been" files: the FBI just announced the results of a sting operation against malicious hackers who hijacked millions of innocent machines, turning them into spam-spewing zombies. It's called - wait for it:
OPERATION BOT ROAST.
Yes, Bot Roast. They must have comedy writers moonlighting over at the Eff Bee Eye. I can imagine some of the hilarious phone calls that must occurred behind the scenes.
Deep Throat: "...Errm, *cough cough* I'm calling regarding Operation Bot Roast."
Agent: "Did you just say 'Operation Pot Roast'?"
Deep Throat: "No, I said Operation Bot Roast."
Agent: "Marijuana dealers, you say?"
Deep Throat: "No, we're going after computer hackers."
Agent: "The hackers are smoking pot?"
Deep Throat: "No."
Agent: "They're selling pot?"
Deep Throat: "No. I said Operation. Bot. Roast. We're going after the hackers and their spambots."
Agent: "I could use a pot of SPAM right about now."
Deep Throat: "Listen, you idiot, there's NO FOOD involved in Operation BOT ROAST."
Agent: "Well, no wonder they're so hungry!"
However, the name itself isn't original - the term "bot roast" appears on a gamers' forum from 2006. I first heard about this on NPR this morning, and I laughed all the way to the coffeepot.
Yup...I'm an easy laugh today.
More at the Washington Post, ZDNet, and DarkReading.
FTC: "Botnets and Hackers and Spam - Oh, My!"
Monday, June 11, 2007Chicago's subway and train lore are filled with tales of people electrocuted or severely injured as a result of touching the live "third rail" that supplies power to the trains. What's puzzling is the city's (and the CTA's) frequent contention that this is an inescapable fact of life (or acceptable risk) with 'third-rail'-powered public transit.
I don't believe that's exactly true. I snapped this photo of the Metro train tracks in Washington, DC, which shows a simple way the third rail can be made safer - the top of the third rail is covered with a firm insulating canopy at stations (not along its entire length) to prevent most accidental contact with the high-voltage rail. So why hasn't the CTA implemented a system like this? For one, this safety feature does require a mechanical change to the train - the third rail shoe needs to be side-contacting, not vertically-contacting, as is the case with existing Chicago 'L' trains; and granted, changing the third-rail shoes on all CTA trains and installing insulating covers above the hot rail at stations would be fairly costly. But besides the covers over the third rail Washington uses, the rail itself is almost identical* to that used by the CTA. Wouldn't it be worth the price in lives saved and reduction of liability/injury settlement costs?
Perhaps not; the cynical part of me suspects the city might rather occasionally throw some money at injured plaintiff families than invest in a system-wide safety improvement on aging transit infrastructure that is increasingly costly to maintain. Not to mention that with the CTA once again threatening "doomsday" service cuts, investment in new safety equipment is probably the last item on the agenda. On the other hand, with Chicago gunning for Olympic City status, is upgrading our public transportation system to modern safety standards currently available in other major U.S. cities really too much to ask?
* DC's Metro third rail voltage is nominally 750V, Chicago's CTA uses 600VDC.
More: The case of Eshoo v. CTA (1999), Illinois Appellate Court docket No. 1-97-1138. Also Lee v. CTA (1992) CBS-2 Chicago carried a feature on the third-rail hazard in May 2005, video available at their site.
Saturday, June 09, 2007A little tip on an excellent shoegaze/dreampop band you may have never heard of: Tribes of the City. They're from Latvia. They're good. Check them out at their MySpace page. Anyhow, here are the last ten songs that have passed through my ears.
- September - "Satellites (Extended Mix)"
- Pink Floyd - "Us and Them"
- Beborn Beton - "Vorbei (Fap 7 Remix)"
- Bruce Cockburn - "Lovers in a Dangerous Time"
- The New Pornographers - "Jackie Dressed in Cobras"
- Simple Minds - "C Moon Cry Like a Baby"
- Robert Rich and Alio Die - "Sirena"
- Joan Jett - "Make Believe"
- The Sweet - "New Shoes"
- Tribes of the City - "A Dream"
* Or, a basic Starbucks mocha. Which takes you further?
"O'Hare Airport Concourse Walkway," Photo CC 2006 by Lenka Reznicek
Friday, June 08, 2007From the "Not From The Onion But Shoulda Been" Files:
(AP) CHELSEA, V.T. A prosecutor has dropped charges against a woman who was arrested for staring at and making faces at a police dog. "Prosecuting a woman for `staring' at a police dog is absurd," said her lawyer. "People are allowed to make faces at police dogs and officers to express their disapproval. It's constitutional expression," said public defender Kelly Green, who represented Jayna Hutchinson.One word: Vermont, which the venerable Onion so sharply skewered recently for that state's renewed call to secede from the Union.
After a heated exchange, [Hutchinson] approached [Vermont State Police Sgt. Todd] Protzman's cruiser, where his dog Max was waiting, putting her face within inches of the window and "staring at him in a taunting/harassing manner," Protzman wrote in an affidavit. "While the defendant taunted my canine, Max was focused on the defendant and the perceived threat she presented to him," the affidavit said. "He was no longer focused on me and the other officers at the scene."
"I think it was going to be difficult to prove her conduct changed the dog's behavior," [Orange County State's Attorney Will] Porter said. "Most of the time (in harassment cases) people would come tell the court what it felt like. Dogs can't do that." [read full article at CBS2 Chicago.com]
Thursday, June 07, 2007Some call it a red carpet Hollywood-Comes-to-Chicago extravaganza:
(CBS2) CHICAGO The cast of "Ocean's Thirteen" will walk the red carpet at the AMC River East theater in Chicago Thursday night for the city's premiere of the movie. CBS 2 Entertainment Reporter Bill Zwecker will be joining them on the red carpet, along with some lucky CBS 2 viewers. Stars expected to appear include George Clooney, Matt Damon, Ellen Barkin, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle and Jerry Weintraub. Red carpet arrivals outside the AMC River East 21, at 322 E. Illinois St., are scheduled to begin around 6 p.m.I call it one hell of long trip home up Lake Shore Drive because of all the traffic. Don't ask about the post title: I just enabled the Hindi Alphabet Transliteration option for s-n-g's.