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Generic Confusion

When you leave, my blog just fades to grey
Nu ma nu ma iei, nu ma nu ma nu ma iei

News? Check. Politics? Check. Music? Check. Random thoughts about life? Check. Readership? Ummm.... let me get back to you on that. Updated when I feel like I have something to say, and remember to post it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Apocalypse. Now.

Back in 1994, I wrote a humorous editorial for the Daily Tar Heel entitled Apocalypse Now!, listing fifteen signs that the apocalypse was upon us. (The punch line was the UNC women's soccer team losing at home to a conference opponent, which basically never happened.)

Nothing in that editorial can compare to this sign:

Taylor Hanson (Hanson), James Iha (ex-Smashing Pumpkins), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne) and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick) have formed a band and are calling themselves Tinted Windows.

I do admit to liking Mmmbop, and Stacy's Mom is a fun song, but my God, the Mayans were off by a few years.

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Barenaked Ladies No More?

Surprising news: Steven Page is leaving Barenaked Ladies. That's like Difford or Tilbrook leaving Squeeze... can the band really be the same?

An amusing line from the article:

2008 was a rough year for the band. First Page was charged with drug possession in upstate New York last July, just weeks after the Barenaked Ladies released a children's album, 'Snacktime.'

Since marijuana was one of the drugs discovered, the album name takes on a whole new meaning.

My BNL collection consists of the single for One Week, plus Pinch Me on a compilation album. But I really like One Week, particularly the reference to Sailor Moon, which was surprisingly more successful in Canada than the U.S.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Speed Limits in the Suburbs

Here, the Indianapolis Star criticizes the maintenance of the 70 mph speed limit in Interstate 69 through Fishers and Noblesville. And they use a recent major accident, a thirty-four-car pileup with two fatalities, to preface the argument.

When Indiana State Police investigated the deadly 34-car pileup near mile marker 8 during a snowstorm Feb. 3, they said that, among several contributing issues, speed was a factor. The crash began along a stretch of I-69 that has kept its 70 mph speed limit despite state guidelines that require a lower speed.

And it quickly involved more cars than almost any Central Indiana crash on record because, as usual, traffic was heavy that morning.

The problem with this article is it is highly unlikely anyone was traveling 70 during a snowstorm that suddenly turned into whiteout conditions, and even if someone were acting stupidly, most people would be driving slower, as the conditions demand it. And a surprise white-out is dangerous, no matter what your speed.

The main focus of the article is that the higher speed limit persists, despite the higher traffic. Congestion is a serious problem (by Indianapolis standards) for the first ten miles of I-69, and for the freeway cloverleafs that feed this road.

Notice the problem with the argument? If a road is congested, it really doesn't matter what the speed limit is, because you'll never reach it! The question should be, given conditions when traffic is low, is 70 mph a safe speed for the road? I would say yes. And an honest civil engineer would probably tell you that a freeway can be safely traveled at speeds few people will ever choose to travel. I'm guessing 90 mph is still a safe speed if you're the only car on the road.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Vegas, baby?

Coyote Blog references the kerfuffle about a Wells Fargo conference held in Las Vegas. To the extent actual business can best be conducted face to face (true in the Coyote's experience), this conference had to be held, and he defends Las Vegas as a choice. "There are tons of cheap flights there from everywhere."

I've heard that a lot, but that hasn't been true, in my experience. Since I went to Las Vegas last year, I thought I'd compare the cost of plane tickets I bought most recently. All but one were over similar time frames, extended weekend trips, with a focus on flight times over lowest cost.

Richmond: 234.50
Denver: 287.41
Minneapolis: The highest, by far
Albuquerque: 218.50
Hartford: 309.50
Atlanta: 249.50
Orlando: 314.35 (business trip, not over a Saturday night)
Las Vegas: 335.98
Kansas City: 283.00 (normally much cheaper, but I bought too late)
Seattle: 229.00

For whatever reason (probably lack of competition), a flight to Minneapolis is always a ridiculously expensive ticket. And aside from that one trip, Las Vegas was the most expensive city for me to fly to. There is competition, with at least two airlines, including Southwest, flying nonstop to Las Vegas.

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