Recent comments on posts in the blog:

For what they have done to young people such as you is unforgivable. Do whatever you need to do, you owe them nothing.

Comment by fche Wed 29 Sep 2021 09:23:28 PM EDT

Agree with the form and substance of this post completely. The institutions that staked all their credibility on their plans turning out a certain way were never going to take responsibility for when the outcome didn't go as planned. It's up to people to live their lives in ways that don't depend on these institutions so much going forward.

It's been a crazy ride this year. I can attest that the current situation is far more draining and distracting than the initial 'lockdowns'. The unsettling spectacle of people and institutions furiously burning bridges with each other & with the public right now is far worse than any possible anxiety about catching a disease no matter how deadly or obnoxious. As far as I can tell, what happened is that the medical system held a referendum on how many people trust it, enough people said 'no' that the government didn't like the result, and now institutions are throwing a five-alarm temper tantrum.

Amid all of this I'm just trying to rebuild my social life. I think I've identified about three sources of sociability I'm in need of, and I'm currently satisfying only one of the three. The only small upside to the whole thing is that it brought some clarity as to what those sources ought to be, and what was extraneous.

Comment by Serhei Wed 29 Sep 2021 01:03:50 PM EDT


The kind of people who feel righteous pride in suffering for a cause for AMBER alerts are the same people who feel a righteous pride in suffering for coronavirus quarantines. The pain makes it worthwhile, even if the pain is useless and excessive. What a peculiar psychology.

Comment by fche Sat 02 May 2020 08:18:56 PM EDT
Frank is so old, he is a fossil.
He is so big, he is colossal.
Comment by fche Wed 29 Apr 2020 02:49:11 PM EDT

Agree re. ensuring some noise. It's interesting that Toyota decided to invent this weird choir/chime thing that isn't obvious to anyone, instead of something like the "beep beep beep" of reversing trucks. Hope there was some science there, but who knows.

And doubly agree re. the fashionable decision-making of urban transit mavens. They can afford to do so, because someone else is paying the bills, they get to bathe in the virtue press, and are not held responsible for the inevitable failures. But enough about government. :-)

Comment by fche Sun 12 May 2019 12:07:37 PM EDT

Well, it would be silent, if certain influential people didn't fear silent vehicles, so they mandated that they make a noise.

As far I can tell, this is a problem worth solving for electric engines on city streets. I can see some internet material about how trolleybuses in Brisbane are said to have earned the charming nickname 'whispering death', due to their sexy silent-running engines resulting in a tendency to sneak up on inattentive pedestrians. Most manufacturers have learned the lesson to include a noise-making component in their engines rather than putting the burden on drivers and pedestrians to be infallible. Mandates may end up causing the noise-maker to sound more obnoxious than it strictly needs to be.

Another note: how much transport technology seems to be decided by people's fetishes rather than evidence. Gas tanks and batteries are both vats of chemicals. This blog post lays out localized but convincing objective evidence that batteries are great to have but don't cover 100% of a car's use cases, making a hybrid car a much more logical compromise than a pure electric car. But everyone talks about Teslas and the supposed inevitable transition to 100% battery cars, although the economics of getting that many vats of those particular chemicals don't seem to add up.

I am emotionally partial to trains, streetcars, and trolleybuses that run on electric wires, preferably while making a tasteful sizzling noise. This is likely a huge bias, but it does make me notice how much emotional trends currently run in the other direction, infesting public decision-making with hatred of wires (or anything else that they will have to exhibit further diligence in maintaining). TTC will now, instead of expanding its bus fleet to run more service (with the logical option of diesel or hybrid buses) in areas with latent demand for service, use the resources to purchase sketchy and experimental buses from three battery-bus companies. Likewise Metrolinx has been tasked with 'electrifying' GO Transit, and has exhibited a decided aversion to trains that run on electric wires. Instead, they want to study hydrogen, a technology that does not actually exist for trains outside of tiny experiments by German and Japanese rail companies. (The Metrolinx stance on overhead wire being 'outdated' reminds me of the Soviet joke about a movie studio that wasn't making any movies because silent film was already obsolete, but non-silent film was not developed yet.) The Quebecois likewise want a reasonably cheap passenger link between Montreal and Quebec City. Because electric trains are unthinkable and have clearly never worked anywhere else in the world, their government got some guys to make 3D renders of a silly suspended monorail thingy that appears to fit 1/20th the number of passengers. Periodically the Hyperloop sellers pop up, but since the spec has been revised from "dirt-cheap scary claustrophobic projectile inside a paper-thin tube" (Musk's original whitepaper) to a more physically feasible but monstrously expensive and complex maglev pod inside a similarly monstrous and complex vacuum tube, I would bet safe money on no one ever building a Hyperloop at intercity scale.

I can't claim to know what mixture of cars/buses/trains makes sense for North America economically, but I can and will make fun of the local culture of ignoring careful incremental engineering experience from elsewhere in the world as 'obsolete', and then proceeding to not build things based on technologies that don't exist.

Comment by serhei Sat 11 May 2019 11:20:44 PM EDT
  • smug people smile
  • this person smiled
  • this person is smug


  • offensive comedians used blackface (arguendo)
  • this kid's face is painted black
  • this kid is offensive


  • bad people wear that hat
  • this kid wears that hat
  • this kid is a bad person


Comment by fche Tue 22 Jan 2019 04:05:25 PM EST
  • NHTSA wants to make driving safer.
  • Driving has become safer.
  • Thanks, NHTSA.
Comment by fche Thu 10 Jan 2019 03:40:50 PM EST

Here’s a fallacy that follows the scheme more strictly:

  • If the drug is not dangerous, science will not identify any harmful side effects.
  • Science has not identified any harmful side effects.
  • Therefore the drug is not dangerous.
Comment by Serhei Sun 06 Jan 2019 11:57:26 PM EST
The real-world fallacy underlying credentialism: “I’m smarter than you because I went to Harvard, and I went to Harvard because I’m smarter than you.”
Comment by Serhei Sun 06 Jan 2019 11:42:45 PM EST