Month: November 2010

Reason #7,343,245,168 that RIPTA sucks.

So today was the first damp, cold rotten day where it’s dark at 4:15PM. And of course whenever there’s bad weather, RIPTA, or the buses of RIPTA are ALWAYS late.

But even thought my connection downtown was late the connecting bus home was too so it was at the berth when I got to the transit hub.

Ok, maybe not so bad right? Wrong.

Two blocks away from my stop someone pulled the signal cord. The “Stop Requested” indicator at the front of the bus lit up.

But the bus driver ignored the stop and continued on some five blocks.

My parting words to the driver were “You think you missed a stop a few blocks back there? Thanks a lot! Pay attention you fucking jackass.”

That’s the thing about me, make me uncomfortable enough and that Italian trait kicks in. The mouth.

But this is precisely why I wanted TRACKED transit in the city. I plan on being at the meeting on the 15th of this month to present MY plan. Besides, you can AUTOMATE a tracked system. Really not much more expensive to do so. So you eliminate the daydreaming drivers, save the payroll expense and now your only two expenses are energy and maintenance.

The reason I say automated is because computer vision systems are getting better and better every day. And on a tracked system you only need obstacle avoidance in two directions (Though you need to be aware of lateral traffic too.)

And it isn’t really that hard to pick out human shapes at a stop. This isn’t future technology, it is technology that exists TODAY.

A distant memory

So I’m filling up my iPod with some of my favorite tracks and some new ones and I realized, I didn’t have Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You”.

There’s a story behind this. From 1985 to 1987 I was a radio DJ at WDOM 91.3FM. I used to do Saturday nights midnight to whenever. Whenever was usually 2AM but if the music was flowing, I’d be there until 6AM with my co-conspirator Don. Then we’d do Sunday evenings 6PM to 9PM.

Every time I’d sign out I always ended the set with this:

Picture it, I’d be sitting at the console, headphones on, eyes close just soaking it up. It was my way of signing out for 3 years.

NYTimes: Our Banana Republic

A pretty scathing indictment of the rich and powerful.

Nicholas Kristof does a good job laying out the reasons for our current plutocracy. If you don’t know, a plutocracy is defined as:

: government by the wealthy
or
: a controlling class of the wealthy

When 1% of the population controls not just 24% of all income but has enormous power over our elected officials, it’s a plutocracy.

It isn’t just the people though, it’s the businesses. I’ll focus on the banks in particular since they seem to be very much in the news today, what with a forecast that Bank of America is tanking.

I say let it fail. It’s insured, the FDIC will satisfy all demand. And it will be less expensive in the long run than doing another bailout and prolonging the inevitable.

But banks are getting greedy. In fact lots of companies like telecoms, net providers, broadcasters, book publishers, music publishers, etc. are all hiking fees and further curtailing how we can use their services.

At the same time the banks et al are shedding jobs like crazy. So tell me, when you have that many people economically disadvantaged by corporate profit, how do they buy the products of that company?

This is going to come back to bite them in the ass. I know it is because it is history repeating itself, only this time on our shores. It’s played out quite a few times in Europe over the years.

And now it’s our turn. And we’re doing the exact same things that the Germans did after the Treaty of Versailles except with slightly different motivators.

And we’re occupying not one but two countries in the oil and natural gas rich region of the world. Yeah, ok.

New Music this week.

So I’ve gotten two more discs worth of music. The first a new album from Jamiroquai called “Rock Dust Light Star” and the other from N.E.R.D called “Nothing (Deluxe Edition)”

Favorite track from N.E.R.D. is “I’ve Seen the Light”. From Jamiroquai it’s “Smoke an Mirrors”

So that’s what’s new in music at casa Truthspew this week.

Pope Benedict XVI sees ‘aggressive secularism’ in Spain

I am just loving this. Pope Benedict XVI (Aka Benny the Rat) has his underwear in a bunch over the rising secularism in Spain.

All I can say is “Awww, poor baby! You and your church had the chance to make things better but you made them much worse! Maybe it’s time we tried to live our lives without the asinine interference of peoples of faith and belief in a sky fairy!”

Here’s a more choice quote from the article:

“The clash between faith and modernity is happening again, and it is very strong today,” he told reporters on the plane, quoted by AFP news agency.

He is due to celebrate an open-air Mass and then travel to Barcelona on Sunday.

“Spain saw in the 1930s the birth of a strong and aggressive anti-clericalism,” Pope Benedict said.

And the Spanish were right to repudiate religion back in the 1930’s too. It’s really done us absolutely no good during it’s entire reign on the planet (Or at least the last 2,000 years. I cannot vouch for pre-monotheistic cultures but even they had their idiocy too.)

The dipshit Pope went on to say:

“a Spain and Europe concerned not only with people’s material needs but also with their moral and social, spiritual and religious needs, since all these are genuine requirements of our common humanity”.

Those last two really aren’t needed at all. It’s just that the church would like you to believe that they are because without them, the church has no power over the individual.

This part is interesting:

Only 14.4% of Spaniards regularly attend mass, and legal changes to allow divorce, gay marriage and abortion have caused concern to the Catholic Church.

But 73% of Spaniards still define themselves as Catholic.

There’s the difference I have with the 73% of Spaniards, I don’t consider myself Catholic at ALL. I am an atheist. I do not have the need to attend services or join any church.

But the best part, the pope can’t pull em’ like he used to in Spain.

But some shopkeepers are disappointed by the number of people coming to the city for the Papal visit.

“There are still no people, we’re very surprised,” one souvenir shop owner told AFP news agency.

Of course – Mr. Ratzinger your venomous statements that gay people are “intrinsically disordered” falls flat in more civilized countries.

Providence implements measures to improve pedestrian safety on Atwells Avenue

Let me make it abundantly clear. It took a city councilman being struck by a hit and run driver to start the ball rolling but we’re finally seeing a new emphasis on pedestrian traffic safety on Federal Hill. I noticed it this morning when I had to stop at Walgreens on Atwells Ave. that something new had been installed. And these babies are BOLTED to the pavement with four sturdy looking threads sticking up with lock nuts and washers holding em’ down.

Something new
Something new

They’re all up and down the strip. I’ve seen the same thing in Massachusetts. Of course at least there most of them obey the directive. Here in RI I noted quite a few cars zoom through while I was in the crosswalk. So maybe this will make you understand my more draconian solution further down.

Atwells and Piedmont
Atwells and Piedmont

And the one above, about 25 feet down the street you saw this:

Speed Display
Speed Display

The mobile speed display was interesting. If people were doing 25MPH or under it would display “Have a nice day” and if they were exceeding the speed limit it would pop up “Your Speed NN” then cycle do “SPEED LIMIT 25MPH” then “SLOW DOWN”. As you can see, the perp in this case was 9MPH over.

The city only has two of them but they should make one a permanent fixture right there on Atwells Ave. Shouldn’t cost too much and it would be an effective deterrent if you married a camera and flash to it and started taking pictures, then you could send them via the cities MESH network right to the police department where the police could print and mail the summons for speeding. If they were really progressive they’d even setup a Goggle Checkout account so you could pay the fines online.

My second though was to skip the camera and the process entirely and modify the device to have a stock of caltrops.

Modern Caltrops
Modern Caltrops

I think you see where I’m going here. When it detects a vehicle exceeding the speed limit by 10% to 20% you eject a bunch in a pattern guaranteed to flatten all four tires on the offending vehicle, stopping it dead in it’s tracks. Then you have it alert the police to do the cleanup.

Yes, much more draconian but effective.

And while I’m on the rant, I saw this pasted to a telephone pole:

Oh Really?
Oh Really?

A rough translation:

Do you have problems with your life? And you haven’t found a solution to your day to day problems? With the marriage, your children, on the job, finances? Jesus Christ is can help.

Oh sure, lay all your problems in the lap of a sky fairy and abdicate your own personal responsibility.

But rant mode off. If we wanted to slow down traffic on Atwells we could do a mini rotary. The area I’ve marked out on this map would work.

Mini-Rotary??
Mini-Rotary??

It would have the effect of slowing down traffic and preserving easy access for fire and rescue. And if there was ever a case for eminent domain this is one. That lot is empty. City or state should purchase it and then take the edge of that parking lot on the other side. It would be for the public good after all.

.

Effects of Healthcare Reform

So today we got introduced to our new health care benefits.

Prime among the new features:

1) There is no longer a lifetime maximum benefit. It used to be $5,000,000 but now it’s unlimited.

2) Your dependent children are covered to age 26!

3) You can no longer be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

4) We now can register our domestic partners on our healthcare plan.

5) Our life insurance benefit rises from $100,000 to $200,000.

That last one is part of the health plan since Aetna is a one stop shop.

Yet we pay the same premiums we’d paid for a couple years. I’d say that is an improvement.

I adopted for a consumer driven plan. The company will chip $1,300 in and my total premium is $22 per pay period. I plan on starting a Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) and chipping in $125. All total at $147 it’s cheaper than the 80/20 plan I’m on now.

So basically per month it comes out to $294 a month for two people. Not too shabby.

Oh and the deductible while high, can be covered with funds from the HSA so in essence, the company contributes $1,300 every year, and I’ll be chipping in $3,250. So here’s the breakdown:

Year 1: $4,550
Year 2: $9,100
Year 3: $13,650
Year 4: $18,200
Year 5: $22,750

The deductible is $4000 but that’s for diagnostic tests and things of that nature. Checkups and basic healthcare are 100%, no copay.

And the nice thing about HSA is even if I leave the job, I still have $20,750 (assuming I use none of the money in the HSA) to use for health coverage until I exhaust it.

So I’d say these are all positive effects of healthcare reform.