Saturday, March 31, 2007

Honda inches us closer to full auto-pilot cars

I didn't realize how close we all were to getting cars that drive themselves, until I read this a while ago. The car industry is slowly nudging us to that goal with features automatic parallel parking (see Lexus ad) and radar assisted cruise control (which slows down your cruise control if the guy in front of you gets too close).

The latest development takes it one step further by regulating not only your speed, but all keeping you in the white lines. You cannot pass anyone or switch lanes. But just as cruise control keeps you at an even speed, the new technology will keep you in your lane.
We've heard of radar assisted cruise control, that has certain luxury cars running at set speeds on the highway, but slows them down or speeds them up when they get too close to a car in front or behind. Well now Honda UK is taking it to another level with their Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) that not only regulates your speed, but manages the turning, allowing you a full auto-pilot system for your Accord when you're out on the freeway. The Adaptive Cruise Control is your regular radar variety, but the Lane Keep Assist System keeps you headed in the right direction by using a camera on the rear-view mirror to watch the white lines and turn accordingly.
The only thing that might slow down full autopilot are the fear of lawsuits. Auto-piloted cars may one day prevent most of the 43,000 road fatalities in the US every year. But if the computer malfunctions and just one person is killed, someone will be sued. Are car companies or auto-pilot system programmers ready to take that risk?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Rosie O'Donnell: BDS sufferer

We've known that Rosie O'Donnell has suffered for years from BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome). But she how now taken the leap to full-fledged '9/11-was-an-inside-job' nutbar with her latest rant this week on The View.

At times like this, I always like to quote from Carl Sagan, mostly because it makes me look smart. But also, he writes better than me and helps make my posts more good. Here goes:
Too much openness and you accept every notion, idea, and hypothesis -- which is tantamount to knowing nothing. Too much skepticism -- especially rejection of new ideas before they are adequately tested -- and you're not only unpleasantly grumpy, but also closed to the advance of science. A judicious mix is what we need.

It's no fun, as I said at the beginning, to be on the receiving end of skeptical questioning. But it's the affordable price we pay for having the benefits of so powerful a tool as science.
So, it's okay to be skeptical. But you need to be able to identify evidence as such when you see it. O'Donnell has wrapped herself science and sounds convincing. But her statements have already been debunked.

Popular Mechanics has done a good job at studying why the buildings fell. It has also now responded to O'Donnell BDS-inspired comments. Here's a part of the detailed point-by-point reply from Popular Mechanics:
The North and South Towers of the World Trade Center weren’t knocked down by planes—they both stood for more than a half-hour after the impacts. But the crashes destroyed support columns and ignited infernos that ultimately weakened—not melted—the steel structures until the towers could no longer support their own weights (NIST offers a primer here). Ms. O’Donnell fundamentally misstates the case with her use of the word “melting”: Evidence currently points to WTC7 also collapsing because fires weakened its ravaged steel structure.
Of course, when you suffer BDS, Popular Mechanics is nothing more than a front magazine for Chimpy McBushitler and his criminal, murdering CIA / Israeli / Freemason / Big Oil / Skull & Bones masters.

By the by, remember Rosie's infatuation with Tom Cruise when she used to host her morning talk show? Maybe she saw a kindred spirit in Tom Cruise. (I don't mean the gay thing. I mean the crazy thing.)

So, to recap:

* It's okay to question and be skeptical

* It's not okay to misstate facts and repeat slanderous statements that have been debunked

* O'Donnell suffers from BDS

* It's not okay to watch League of Their Own under any circumstances

Monday, March 26, 2007

What's wrong with the UN?

Have a look at this video of UN Watch director Hillel Neuer speaking to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva about how said commission is firmly in control of tyrants--a complete reversal of the goal of the commission as established by Eleanor Roosevelt.

Then watch as the president of the commission reacts to the criticism by removing the statement from the record and warning others not to say the same thing.

P.S. I also carried this UNICEF boxes at Halloween and believed that the UN was great. If it ever was, it isn't anymore. What a shame.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Spiders on drugs

It has been viewed 4.3 million times at YouTube, so you've likely already seen this video about the effects on drugs on spiders. If not, enjoy.


Access restricted sites at work

Use unbl0ck.com to get around blocked website restrictions at work. These services tend not to last forever, so use it while you can.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The 'cokehead' defends 'slanting eyes' comment

André Boisclair, the leader of the secessionist Parti Québécois, said the following to reporters this week about his time at Harvard:
"When I was in Boston I was surprised to see that on campus about one-third of the students doing their bachelor's degrees had slanting eyes."
And because he doesn't think he said anything wrong, he won't apologize.
"I don't understand," he said in Quebec City on Thursday. "Maybe there's a nuance between the word in French and the word in English."
I don't think there's a nuance. Rather, I think that the English-speaking community is more in tune with the rest of North America on issues of cultural sensitivity. When US Senator George Allen made those "macaca" comments in the 2006 election about a man of Indian decent he was widely criticized. It was in the media for weeks in the US. But were it not for the Quebec English-language media, this story would not have even been told.

According to Canadian Press,
French-language media tended to ignore the original remarks on Wednesday, while their English counterparts did mention it.
Maybe Boisclair didn't have racism in his heart when he used the term. But how is it that he never learned that the term "slanting eyes" was not acceptable.

(Note to Boisclair: I know there must have also been quite a few Jews and Arabs at Harvard. But avoid using the terms 'hooknose' and 'towelhead' when discussing reasonable accommodation of minorities in Quebec.)

Regarding the 'slanting-eyes' comment, Boisclair says he says he won't apologize.
"I don't have any intention of apologizing," he repeated several times, saying it's a term he uses quite frequently.
Frequently! Does he publish a White Power newsletter or something?

This isn't the first time a PQ leader has made comments like this and then seemed perplexed that the English-language media made a story of it. In 1995, Lucien Bouchard said that Quebecers were "une des races blanches qui a le moins d’enfants" -- one of the white races with the lowest number of children.

To prove he wasn't a racist, Boisclair said his 'slanty-eyed' friends at Harvard made a point of sharing with him some of their ancient Chinese proverbs. He shared one of these with reporters: "Owa tana siam."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Jean Chrétien in shades

Which photo of Jean Chrétien wearing sunglasses is more awesome? Leave your thoughts in the comments box.


Google hack: find music easy like

If you fancy yourself smart because you know how to use quotation marks and the + and - to refine your search in Google, you'll feel pretty inadequate after seeing the search string created to find free music on websites.

Enter this into the Google search box to find lots of, say, Coldplay music:
-inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:"index of" +"last modified" +"parent directory" +description +size +(wma|mp3) "coldplay"
A torrent-free way to find music. Learn more here.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

R2D2 mailboxes

I was never a Star Wars fan, so I could care less about this story. But I know that three of the five people who read this blog will think this is almost as cool as when Picard walked around the bridge of the old Enterprise.

>> R2D2 mailboxes from the United States Postal Service

"*&^#* #*#(@ #(#(#H(#(S(#(#@$!I"

Friday, March 02, 2007

Which city (website) is worth more: Toronto or Montreal

The website dnScoop calculates the number of page links, visits and other key data associated with your website. Then it assigns a monatary value to your website.

For fun, let's compare the City of Toronto website (toronto.ca) with the City of Montreal website (ville.montreal.qc.ca):

toronto.ca
$1,408,440

ville.montreal.qc.ca
$227,330

municipalite.herouxville.qc.ca
$784


These values were assigned on March 2, 2007. You can run these tests yourself anytime.

As an aside, I don't understand why so many Quebec municipalities cling to these overly-complicated web addresses. For instance, Montreal owns the entire montreal.ca domain yet (1) they don't use montreal.ca (which is shorter and easier to remember), and (2) they don't bother to redirect visitors who type www.montreal.ca in their web browser. Instead, visitors get a sever not found error.

And I'm glad Herouxville added that sub-domain "municipalite" so that visitors wouldn't confuse their site with the multi-national petrolium giant Herouxville L.L.C.
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