Month: September 2009

There are some real idiots on Digg

So this popped up: Apparently Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK-Repug) tried to insert an amendment to revoke the ability of the EPA to monitor fixed polluters like business, power plants etc. and make them only responsible for vehicle borne pollution.

So I posted a comment that said:

I want the clean air and water acts enhanced. Every outflow of air or water must be scrubbed before it is to re-enter air and water systems.

And got dugg down a few times so I posted this in response:

Post a comment for more stringent air and water controls and get dugg down. We’ve really got some idiots here on Digg. Enjoy that glass of polluted water. And cry to the gods about your serious respiratory illnesses because the air is so polluted.

I guarantee that one will be dugg up. I’ve found when I get more strident I tend to get a higher digg score.

Healthcare: Bias in polling

Just ran across this Newsmax poll on healthcare. I direct you attention to question number two:

2) Do you believe the Democratic health plan should include 45 million uninsured, including illegal aliens?
A) Yes, should include 45 million.
A1) No, should not.

That last part after the comma makes the question interesting. “Including illegal aliens?”.

If you say yes you support insuring illegal aliens. Answering no says you don’t care about the 45 million U.S. Citizens who don’t have insurance of any kind.

The list of issues I have with this poll goes on. They use language like “Universal Healthcare”. Universal Health Care is a third rail isssue in this country because insurance companies pretty much control the whole game.

So go ahead, take the survey. Have fun!

New/Old music

So I’ve found myself perusing all these top-100 lists for the various decades. It caused me to add the following to my library.
Recently Added Tracks Sept 09 <—- Click to read the PDF file.

Lots of notable stuff in there. Spans 1960's to the current decade.

The 5th Dimension – Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars… the actual age of Aquarius is some years off btw.)

Archie Bell and the Drells – Tighten Up (Just a funky little tune)

The Brothers Johnson – Right on Time (Again, some serious string work!)

A Flock of Seagulls – I Ran (Gotta have some synth pop!)

Zager and Evans – In the Year 2525 (Some prognosticating on the future. Now it's been 10,000 years…)

Orgone – Duck and Cover (Funky tune – my friend Beth says it sounds like porno music)

And Squirrel Nut Zippers – I like gypsy jazz, if you don't you're missing out on something.

BTW, this is my Entire iTunes Library. Yes I know, at 1,735 songs or 5.6 days of play it’s a little light. But I’m kind of selective that way.

Geek Stuff: Why VoIP Rocks

I’m a big believer in VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephony services.

The home line is provided by Vonage. The business line by MagicJack, and my mischief line via Skype.

But here’s one of those things about VoIP that you cannot deny. It knocks down barriers.

When I first signed up for Vonage it was the U.S. and Canada. Then it jumped to six countries. Now it’s jumped to 60 countries spanning the entire globe and every continent. I mean, if I want I can call China, Japan, Saipan or Guam and not ring up any extra charges I can do so. Or I can call Italy, France, Germany, Spain and more without ringing a toll either.

But it goes without saying, VoIP is what you would term a disruptive technology. It piggy backed on a ubiquitous net connection and took over the last mile of telephone services. I know for example that in my area just the competition from Cox and VoIP has knocked Verizon down to a little less than a 40% market here in RI. No wonder Verizon went bonkers stringing fiber.

Verizon Fiber Cabinet
Verizon Fiber Cabinet

But when Ma Bell still had a monopoly one of her prime goals was to reduce costs in order to increase profits. As a result they developed a completely digital toll switching network that decreased the cost of maintenance, traffic management, etc. The computer could figure out alternate routing faster than a human could. That was the AT&T 4ESS (Doh, 4A was an electromechanical switch) toll switch.

4ESS Toll Switch
4ESS Toll Switch

Just for comparison, here’s the first concentrator/distribution network for the Morris, NJ Electronic Switch test.

Morris Exciters
Morris Exciters

But it wasn’t just the switching that became less expensive.

Policy had something to do with that in in the mid 1950’s Bell started rolling out Direct Distance Dialing (DDD). This allowed bell to reduce the amount of operator staff required to handle calls. They also improved the Traffic Service and Position System (TSPS) too, meaning fewer operators could handle more services.

But the real cost reducer was data circuits. Telephones use trunks and they come in various types such as analog and digital. At first a DS1 had to be provided on two pairs of wires and amplifiers were necessary every so many hundreds of feet. Most people don’t realize it but order DS1 now and it’s delivered via HDSL. Fewer amps, less specialized circuits.

And there was the fiber explosion. Back between the late 1980’s and now they pretty much laid tons of multi-strand fiber optic cables from coast to coast and under the oceans too.

For a point of comparison a 2,500 pair cable was very thick, about the diameter of a 45RMP record. Now a single fiber can carry hundreds of calls and it doesn’t cost nearly as much as it used to because the fiber uses solid state components that don’t burn out after a short lifespan.

Not to mention the proliferation of satellite systems. There are a number of carriers that have orbiting platforms though even the necessity of that has pretty much been relegated to TV remotes.

And it’s going to keep getting more interesting. For example, I found an application from my iPod Touch called Fring. Fring lets you connect to a VoIP provider like Skype for example. Apple has tacitly acknowledged this by turning on Bluetooth on the Touch. So I can get a Bluetooth headset, or earphones for that matter and use them with my iPod Touch.

And wherever there’s Wi-Fi, I can call to my hearts content. And there is a shitload of Wi-Fi in my city.

Fring on the iPod Touch
Fring on the iPod Touch

New Rule: If America Can’t Get it Together, We Lose the Bald Eagle


Very good analysis of what is going on in the United States at the moment. I want the Democratic party to slide left and stop trying to be just like the Republicans.

But I know that will never happen. Or at least it won’t happen until we assert ourselves as citizens and once and for all tell the corporations that we are not theirs to control.

You really want to modify a constitution, insert these words in the 14th Amendment “These rights do not apply to corporations.” Seven simple words but it would change the whole political environment.

We can do it, the Obama camp showed us how with one of the best fund raising machines ever. Except we the people do our own, and get our own people obligated to us alone into office. We can do it, and we’ll have to pay for it but the payoff is immeasurable.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Providence is getting streetcars again

They were ripped out in 1948 but a streetcar line is coming back to Providence. I was trolling the RIPTA meeting notes and I saw that they’ve now obtained $75 million to begin on a new streetcar line.

Streetcars are low speed, 8-12MPH. But they get people around.

Portland Street Car
Portland Street Car

RIPTA is also planning out a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route or three. That would be great too. The below is an example of Boston’s BRT, the Silver Line:

BRT Silver Line
BRT Silver Line

They’re doing a lot of this with stimulus money btw. So the stimulus is working despite what the naysayers might say.

They’re also committed to buying 163 new hybrid buses. The thing that cracks me up is that a normal bus gets about 3MPG, the hybrid boosts that to 7MPG which still nets RITPA a significant fuel saving over the years.

And from what I hear, the predominant hybrid method isn’t the kludge they use on cars, but instead there are electric motors at the wheels, and a smaller diesel engine attached to a generator keeps a battery array charged. So it runs less overall. This is the system that trains use except they just skip the battery part and send the current right to the drive wheels.