"What kind of fool do you take me for?" "First class."

This is the text of an email I received today from Rania_Glornia@geocities.com (probably a forged return) via a RoadRunner server in the Tampa Bay area.
We have just charged your credit card for money laundry service in amount of $234.65 (because you are either child pornography webmaster or deal with dirty money, which require us to layndry them and then send to your checking account).
If you feel this transaction was made by our mistake, please press "No".
If you confirm this transaction, please press "Yes" and fill in the form below.

Enter your credit card number here:

Enter your credit card expiration date:

Well Rania, since I'm paying more than two C-notes, make my layndry extra starch.


Carnival of the Vanities, number fifty-five

Please check out this week's Carnival, hosted at Dancing with Dogs.

Driving? Miss Denver

TREX and E-470 have it all backwards. A beltway is supposed to relieve the downtown of the traffic burden of mainline highways crossing the city. Travelers who want to go through Denver should be encouraged to drive the extra miles, on very nicely built roads with high speed limits, to skip the traffic and the hassle, and even to relocate some of the air pollution away from downtown. Ten bucks of tolls does not constitute encouragement to drive 46 miles instead of 32, especially for heavy trucks whose per-mile and per-minute costs are higher.

So the Fûz Proposal, which is cunning but simple, but cunning, and promotes the Interstate highways as they were intended---regional highways, not local commutes:
  • Raise the bucks to pay off E-470 by reserving a High-Occupancy/Toll lane in T-REX. Try express lanes like those for the I-270 spur from the District of Columbia to Frederick, Maryland, just to segregate the local traffic from the big trucks who are mostly passing through. It can be simplex (one way at a time) like the HOV lane up North through the Mousetrap---but Northbound in the morning, Southbound in the evening. It can be toll-free during those times when there's no traffic congestion.
  • Provide a limited number of places where a car can cross from express to local lanes. Charge a toll at these crossovers, whether the vehicle is highly occupied or not. Some drivers will choose to use the express lanes to penetrate the layers of traffic, then change to local lanes when their exit comes up, instead of suffering the start-stop in local lanes the whole way. For example, pay twenty-five cents to cross to local at Arapahoe to exit at Belleview Ave, instead of using local lanes the whole way from Lincoln Street to Belleview. Charge a toll for any vehicle crossing from express to local lanes, whether the vehicle is highly occupied or not.

Instead of E-470's RF toll transponders, how about prepaid cards that bear a large barcode? The traffic authority encrypts the bar code so cards are hard(er) to counterfeit, and sets the tolls low enough so they're not worth counterfeiting.
Privacy geeks can pay cash for the cards to disconnect the driver's identity from gate and time. Flash the card at a reader on the toll gate. The gate flashes back how much value is left on your card for the next gate.

These two incentives will combine to push some local traffic out to E-470, and make any North-South through traveler think twice about going direct through Downtown.

Some through-traffic motorists will spend the extra operating costs, and the extra time, to go around; others will choose to pay the toll to go straight through (the toll booths at the very Northern and Southern ends of the HOT lane will have to be manned, so out-of-towners can buy toll cards, high-occupancy cars are admitted, and local tollers can get their cards recharged). Either way, the long-distance through travelers get to choose.

I'd take a kinder view of professional sports if the Denver Broncos comped the tolls for I-25 through traffic during certain home games. Their advertising budget could handle it.

The backs of the prepaid toll cards are a great advertising space for tow services, DWI public service announcements, jitney services, and so forth.

Local traffic can:
  • slug it out on the local lanes of I-25, paying nothing but aggravation and engine hours to weave among each other in slow motion through the Tech Center, or
  • they can pay extra to take the HOT lane in to a crossover near their exit, or
  • they can pay the extra time and operating costs to use the beltway.
They get 3 options because there are more of these motorists, they tend to be on the roads at about the same times, and their origins and destinations are more numerous. Either way, they get to choose and they can see the consequences of their choices more clearly. No market distortions are hiding the consequences from them.

We can reduce traffic congestion, fuel consumption, and pollution only if the individuals who are creating it have a choice in how to reduce it, and still have lives. Their choices can be informed only by the measurable costs of money and time. Their money and their time, by the way.

Unfortunately, the choices already have been made by our betters, and the highways being built are literally casting those choices in concrete.

If some good come of this, may it be that . . .

We don't recall ever having mentioned Rush Limbaugh before in this weblog. Events compel us.

His alleged criminal painkiller abuse, and the hyprocrisy that would be exposed if the allegations are found true, could demonstrate the falsehood of one of the Right's sacred tenets:

Occasional drug abusers are no better than abject junkies. They can't be ordinary people. They cannot be successful. Drug abusers' faculties, skills, and daily lives will be so disturbed by the drugs, regardless of the level of consumption or dependence, that they cannot function normally. Laws are justified to remove them from society. Businesses are justified in declining to hire people who use drugs because they underproduce, increase the risks of error and accident, and impose costs through increased absenteeism and higher medical burdens.

I don't care what your opinions may be of Rush as a person, or of his philosophy. But you must concede this: his talents as a radio personality are exceptional. He is the best in his field. No amount of money or hype generated by his quarter of the political plane could put him in that position or keep him there long if he didn't possess the talent (that quarter of the political plane is not gifted at hyping anything or anyone in the first place). This talent continues in spite of an alleged very expensive painkiller habit that, according to current (and his own) wisdom, should have reduced him to a pitiable wretch incapable of a top-rated radio program.

I would of course have to be much closer to him personally, to have seen and listened to him regularly over the span of years since before the abuse began, to have noticed any drug-attributable decline. My listening is irregular but frequent, and is influenced more by steel building design and sources of RF interference than by my tastes. I enjoy his program.

Here's Attaboy's take, much like my own:
Unlike what many liberals think about people like me, I am not a lemming following his every word as I flee into the ocean. His commentary forces you to think. Even those who vehemently disagree with everything he says have to agree that just his presence in the marketplace forces them to look hard at what they believe and perceive about everything.

A more regular (but still impartial) listener than myself, if such could be found, might comment on how often he hands his show off to Walter Williams or Roger Hedgecock, or some other guest host, and even then it would be deceptive, on a Democrat Party order of magnitude, to attribute this absenteeism to an oxycontin habit.

If a serious drug habit like this one didn't topple a very visible radio personality from the top of the charts and the top of his own game (an arrest would---the habit in and of itself has not), why should we accept the assertion that occasional drug use leads inevitably to impairment and destruction, compelling intervention by the State? Why should we accept the routine of offering piss to potential employers, to do nothing more dangerous for them than operate spreadsheets and photocopiers?

Let me borrow again from Joe's Attaboy post:
As I would for anyone who has an illness, affliction, or serious personal crisis, I'm going to pray very hard for Rush, his wife, and his family. In spite of one's political and social positions, I don't think anyone deserves to suffer the pain of addiction.

As Rush's callers say, "dittoes."

And before you go:

  • Note carefully that nowhere in the preceding post have I advocated utter forgiveness of people who harm others while under the influence of any substance that alters mood, perception, or judgment. Just read the warnings on the label of any bottle of over-the-counter cough medicine, which labels illegal drugs lack because, well, they're illegal.
  • Note carefully that nowhere in the preceding post have I advocated the use of recreational drugs during certain activities or for members of certain professions or pursuits, such as surgery, military service, handling firearms or operating 10-ton hydraulic presses. In fact, nowhere above have I advocated the use of drugs for recreation, period.

Any posts or emails seeking to break through or ignore the rhetorical fences I've strung around these two points will be summarily deleted.

Update: Robert Scheer agrees with my basic assertion that drug addicts may still be able to function competently.
Limbaugh's experience is the best argument against the demonization of all junkies — this one throughout his addiction held a big job and presumably paid a lot in taxes.
Advantage, Fûz. Found via Dustbury.


Maybe better to be carried by six, after all

Walter in Denver spanks the Post for completely missing the point on fully-informed juries.

No comment

Literally. No comments links are appearing under my posts, again. Last time, some rogue code converted a needed angle bracket in the template into the character entity for an angle bracket, causing an html tag to go unclosed. I found it in the template and fixed it.

Can't find anything of the sort this time. Bastidges.

My capitalist daughters

Firstborn has been suggesting for some months now that Barbaloot and I begin to give her an allowance. I don't know how that notion was planted.

I got an allowance when I was a kid, but only when my father suggested that I give up my newspaper route so I could learn to run a bulldozer and backhoe for him. His bid to run a coal strip mine fell through, though, and he had no work for me to do, so out of compassion he offered to give me five bucks a week until I found something else.

In this shanty, we don't pay or give allowances. Barbaloot and I conferred, and agreed that instead, we would pay for the performance of chores. Some days the cats are not fed because Firstborn just doesn't remember, and the cat litter goes way too long between Middlechild's careful cleanings.

We agreed to pay them in the currency of poker chips.

When I got home from drill last weekend, dinner was not quite ready and the girls were bouncing off of the walls. I suggested that we go to a nearby retailer and get said poker chips.

Once in the store, we had to look for the poker chips. Not in the stationery. Not in office supplies. Oh, there's a nice little safe I was considering for Beater, Biter, and Glamdring (more on the sidearms later). What's the price on that? Hmmmm. OK, girls, let's keep looking for poker chips. As I started down the aisle, Middlechild's hand tugged resolutely on mine. "Middlechild, it's time to look for poker chips. Can you come with us, please?"

Firstborn chimed in, eager to get them, since she had already done enough chores that I owed her a pile of chips already.

"No, Dad. Here."


"Here, Dad." She was standing right beside where I had been, ogling the safes. She was also standing right in front of a display of playing cards, and poker chips.

You need to understand this: this girl had never seen poker chips before in her 5 years of life. If she had, she might not know what a stack of them in a box looks like. I didn't think she could read that well either, that she could see from the package's markings that here were her poker chips. Somehow she knew that, well, right here they were. Our search was over.

Firstborn is a quick reader too, mind you, and she didn't see them. But introverted Middlechild homed in on them better than I could.

We picked up a package that is probably worth hundreds of litter box cleanings and months of fed cats. At the girls' request, we had to visit the lobster tank at the other end of the store, because they think lobsters are cute and wanted to say hello to them. Then back home.

The family room floor is clear, and 24 hours later it is staying clear. The cats were fed this morning. Firstborn wants to know how to clean toothpaste off of the bathroom countertop. Middlechild needs a broom just her size to sweep under the kitchen table after meals.


Wymmyn in the Service

James Rummel posts on unsatisfactory findings relative to women in the armed services, and goes directly to at least one conclusion I share.

rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrruuuurrrrrrrrruuuuuuuuuurrrrrr, Part IV

Part III is here, follow links to previous posts of same topic.
The customer support email from my video card's maker reports that they do not provide replacement cooling fans for their products. If it were still under warranty, I could send them the complete video card and they'd repair it. Ahhhh, no.

So until I find a fan of the right dimensions, I have slicked the fan up with both BreakFree (liquid teflon) and graphite grease, slipped inside the motor by a length of dental floss.

As the title of the post suggests, the fan is much quieter. Now the problem has entered a new realm: what if it stops making noise completely? Is it is running smoothly or totally fried and letting the graphics processor bake to thermal runaway?

The hunt for a replacement fan continues. I see kits at the Computer Store with Real Geek Girls, which include a gigantic frigging aluminum heatsink that wraps around the whole video card, and a heat pipe for God knows what, which means I'd have to remove the heatsink that's already there and cram half a kilo of metal into that space. This sounds counterproductive to me. The new heatsink would have to be thermally greased to the GPU. A replacement fan just has to blow air across the existing, greased heatsink.

Update: 24 hours later, the G4 sounds like it did just before the basement cleaning that started this whole mess, and the video card maker emailed back saying they can't even recommend a replacement fan as a purchased part. Too bad, because I read the manufacturer's name and part number from this one, found them online, saw drawings and specs for the fan, yada yada. The video card maker could have made a couple of bucks off of me---I probably would even have found it in my repair budget to have it shipped Second Day Air.

My daughters are acquiring the basics of capitalism while those guys are losing them.

I still got it goin' on

My shop was evaluated this weekend on its physical fitness. USAF and ANG have converted to a more holistic measure of fitness, considering body fat, flexibility, pulse after 3 minutes of stepping, push-ups and sit-ups. A Computer Program rolls these measurements together and outputs a single "fitness age" that is indicates whether one is unacceptably "older" than one's age.

My 43 years of wisdom, experience, and regrets inhabit, I am told, a 36-year-old body. Barbaloot is delighted, of course.