One of the purported ways of fixing one’s “carbon footprint” is by buying “emission/offset credits” as penance for one’s sins. Whether at the personal or national level, this is wonderful stuff. One can either cash in or laugh in.

Taranto’s column today (scroll to the bottom) outlines one way for the former.

With all of the concern about carbon “footprint” these days, I’ve decided to start my own carbon offset business to help the wealthy feel less guilty about their extravagance. Perhaps you would be kind enough to publicize my venture.

My business model is to don the hair shirt of self-denial in exchange for cash payment so that my clients can lead fuller, more enriching lives without worrying about carbon dioxide. And, just so there’s no question about the validity of the offset, I’m not building wind farms or giving away fluorescent light bulbs. No, I’m offering to forgo real pleasures so that others may enjoy them. […]

This is hardly less reasonable than buying “credits” from third-world nations so they can build stuff for their villages. After all, if one’s foreign aid results in an improvement of the lot of those people, toward the industrialization of their societies, what’ll really happen in the end? MORE GAS EMISSIONS! CERTAIN DOOM! It rather seems better in the planetary analysis to keep them down in the dirt, where their “carbon footprint” can remain the size of a tick on a flea’s ass. Oh dear, that reminds me of my proposed solution for the “homeless problem”.

For a last laugh, adopt maddox’ great line and proclaim

For every ton of carbon you don’t burn,
I’m going to burn three!

I’m such a bad man.

Posted Fri Mar 2 12:56:00 2007 Tags:

This afternoon, drudge points to an AP article about China’s military buildup. One little sentence caught my eye.

China’s military spending is largely oriented toward possible conflicts over Taiwan, which split with the mainland in 1949 and has refused Beijing’s offers for peaceful reunification.

It turns out one could have easily written that same sentence, exchanging Taiwan and China. After all, Taiwan’s miliatry is similarly oriented. And they too have offered “peaceful reunification” to the mainland. The difference, of course, is that Taiwan would spread democracy, and PRC’s form of peaceful reunification consists of donning the yoke of communism. Heck, even Al Qaeda offered peace to the world, if only certain reasonable (?) conditions were met. Clearly, not all “peace” is equally desirable.

So why would an AP reporter use misleading language like that? Hmm, let’s see, the writer is named Audra Ang, and several other writings by this person identify his/her work location as … wait for it … Beijing. Ah, that explains it.

Posted Sun Mar 4 15:52:00 2007 Tags:

Canada’s Discovery Cvilization channel has a new show on. Aviation people will love it, if they pony up the few bucks a month for a subscription.

It’s called “Air Dogs”, and it does not appear to have a web site (whoa!). But it’s great. It’s like Wings over Canada, but with more flying and a Mythbusters-like narrator. The gist of it is that two pilots (one ex-military, one weekend flyer) roam around North America, squeezing into venues out of reach of common folk, and getting to fly a diverse variety of airplanes.

During one episode, they get to fly with the Snowbirds. During another, they take the CWHM B-25. Not just sitting in the back, but actually taking control and getting an introduction. That B-25 episode was almost chilling because my little clan visits that very same warbird at the Warplane Museum frequently. Our two-year-old (Eric) knows it by nickname (“Grumpy”), and recognized the plane immediately during the show. There is still a pool of drool where I was sitting at the TV. “Lucky devils!” just doesn’t express my envy.

According to one source, only six episodes have been commissioned, but it would be a shame to stop – there are many other interesting aircraft out there. I don’t know how well the show appeals to non-aviation people. But if you might like it, consider sending a few bucks toward your cable/satellite provider to try out the channel for a month. I am sure they will rerun the shows again soon.

Posted Wed Mar 7 19:02:00 2007 Tags:

Who knew the Instrument Landing System had a nearly undetectable failure mode?

In 2000, a New Zealand flight nearly flew into rocks because the ground-based ILS transmitter was sending a diagnostic signal. It made an airplane think it was on the proper glide slope (leading to a runway threshold) regardless of its actual position/movement (leading toward rocks). It was a little like flying based on a VOT (VOR test) signal, which is designed for calibration of aircraft radios by always identifying itself as “to the south” (regardless of actual relative position).

Here is the investigation report, and subsequent safety video clip (part 1, part 2, part 3).

Youtube…. maybe Cringley is right, and Google was right, and it is the next huge thing.

Posted Sat Mar 10 06:02:00 2007 Tags:

Great minds think alike. For the last few days, the mystery performer of two lovely little Sesame Street songs has been on my mind.

The two ditties in question are capital I and lower case n. The music is brief but haunting, of the early 1970s folk style.

And then, just a few days ago, The Onion AV Club has finally solved the mystery. A gentleman named Steve Zuckerman wrote and performed the tunes, when he was just 20.

Posted Sun Mar 11 19:43:00 2007 Tags:

The last four months have been a turning point in my home life, and it’s because of the brats.

After Stuart was born a few months back, I took some time off work to become the primary caretaker of our older brat Eric. It was an amazing couple of weeks. Since around that time, we have noticed dramatic improvements in the richness of expression, sense of humour, of propriety and order in his world, complexity of thinking, and I was right there to help it along.

He went from his first explicit statement of preference, last fall, “want another (different) juice”, through comfort with technology (navigating portions of the web), reading with ease, elaborate demands (“I want to see a lancaster video on youtube”), to typing familiar words and correcting himself, making spontaneous soliloquies today (“I’m not an airplane, I have no propeller, I have no wings, I have no tail, I have no wheels. I want to fly.”), creating and laughing at word games, correcting people’s speaking shortcuts (“missing a T” as Juimiin slurs her trailing consonants). There are too many examples, some astounding, on how quickly this little handsome dude is developing, how entertaining he can be. And his little brother won’t be far behind.

Somewhere along the way, a bigger insight hit me. For the vast majority of people, there will be no meaningful artifacts left behind to mark their existence. Most day-to-day output is simply not worthy of any historical attention, even despite unbounded electronic storage that may preserve these insignificant words. So what’s left to do, if one’s not a superstar nor a serial inspirator? Create an offspring, and teach it well, for it is one’s sole effective legacy. If so, this lets one understand the peculiar anguish of a parent upon the loss of a child.

Posted Tue Mar 20 22:55:00 2007 Tags:

Case in point: the judging scorecard for the “Red Hat Challenge”.

Posted Thu Mar 22 16:10:00 2007 Tags:

The elder brat dropped our jaws today. After his bath, I casually asked him … “How do you spell ‘submarine’?”. In about fifteen seconds, he calls out every letter correctly. “biplane?” “brantford?” “welcome?” “yellow?” “bravo!”. At most, one error per word.
The little guy is 28.5 months old. Somehow, he’s related to this.

Posted Wed Mar 28 21:26:00 2007 Tags: