Rental Review Buick Allure CX

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 

Rental car review

A typical American boat – the Buick is big and heavy and squishy and not exactly my type of car. I don’t really like the over-plush seats or squishy suspension. The faux wood interior styling isn’t really my thing either.
  1. Quiet – It is pretty quiet
  2. Comfortable – Not terribly comfortable. I don’t like squishy seats, but I suppose for some people it is..
  3. Basic amenities – Power everything, but no outside temperature reading. I like knowing the outside temp.
  4. Stereo – surprisingly mediocre for a fancy-ish car. The sound isn’t great and the radio has trouble getting marginal stations. Plus the radio display doesn’t tell you what station you’re listening too, which is helpful in a rental car.
  5. Security – the trunk is big and secure.
Posted at 22:00:31 GMT-0700

Category: photoRental cars


Tuesday, April 29, 2008 

Some pretty FEA output for DVR’s Parkfield project.

Posted at 02:50:14 GMT-0700

Category: SRLTechnology

why prosecution of polygamy is wrong

Sunday, April 27, 2008 

The Toronto Globe and Mail published an editorial by Tom Flanagan titled “The biological and philosophical reasons why we should prosecute polygamy” in which Mr. Flanagan laid out arguments in defense of the prosecution of the Eldorado Mormons and in defense of laws against polygamy, though his arguments are only valid against polygyny.

Mr. Flanagan’s arguments against the Eldorado sect follow a very uncontroversial line: that the wives are held either in fact or in effect against their will by strong social pressure, managed education, and arranged marriage which is also implied to be against their will. They are “treated as breeding machines,” he says.

These arguments apply equally to any coerced relationship, whether monogamous, polygynous, or polyandrous. Coercive monogamous relationships vastly outnumber coercive relationships of any other form; the few coercive polygamous relationships that come to light merit comment only out of prurience.

Mr. Flanagan goes on to posit an argument against polygamy on the basis of biology and philosophy that is so hypocritical that it seems more plausibly a straw man defense of polygamy.

Humans, he says, are biologically predisposed to polygyny on the basis of sexual dimorphism and as evidenced by the bulk of history; conversely, he fails to note adaptations for polyandry such as the coronal ridge, sperm viscosity, and noradrenaline.

The argument is that this predisposition to polygamy would, left unchecked by social edict, tend to accrete breeding females around a small number of alpha males, leaving the majority of beta males mateless, thus shiftless, and therefore more inclined toward crime and violence. And so, to protect society, we must assign women to a single male, even a beta male, lest she by following her animal urges plunge society into chaos.

It is not clear why this model does not, in fact, treat women as chattel and “breeding machines” whose distribution to desperate men is mandated by social pressure and force of law.

This argument is false. There is no evidence that women’s rights are protected by enforced monogamy, nor that civilization is threatened by polygamy: monogamy arose as a property right and polygyny was the norm at the founding of civilization.

While society has an obligation to intercede on behalf of the coerced, government has no place interfering in the private behavior of consenting adults.

Posted at 22:36:39 GMT-0700

Category: Politics

Volvo v50 08 wagon

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 

Rental review

I rent a lot of cars, and sometimes Hertz gives me something a little more interesting – like this Volvo V50. It’s a lot more comfortable than the usual Tauri, faster, and has a better stereo. The key features of a rental car are:
  1. Quiet – this car is about as quiet as any I’ve rented except perhaps the Audi A4.
  2. Comfortable – the V50 is a little less roomy than a torus, but I find the layout fits very well and doesn’t feel at all cramped.
  3. Basic amenities – I’ve gotten rental cars with manual windows or manual seats and mirror adjustments. It would matter less in one’s own car or just driving around, but realizing the mirrors are out of wack as you try to merge onto the freeway that is probably taking you the right direction before the GPS has locked satellites and discovering that you have to reach over, unroll the window, and poke at the mirror is sub optimal. The Volvo has everything you’d expect.
  4. Stereo – up here in Canada I listen to CBC-R2. Good classical and some funky music too. It’s nice when it sounds good. The Volvo has a great stereo that performs well at any volume and isn’t absurdly bass heavy like a Scion. On the other hand, the Volvo doesn’t have an iPod port like the Audi or a MP3 compatible CD player like a lot of Mustangs have.
  5. Security – I usually have a computer with me and sometimes it is convenient or necessary to leave it in the car. A trunk is a lot more secure than a wagon, and while the Volvo has a pull-out cover to hide what’s in the back, it’s not as confidence inspiring as having a solid trunk.
Posted at 22:00:27 GMT-0700

Category: photoRental carsTravel

Dinner with Joe

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 

Joe Davis in his lab in Cambridge.
Posted at 19:00:27 GMT-0700

Category: Uncategorized

This does not suck.

Friday, April 11, 2008 

The lovely Maria met me at me YYZ ORD gate and walked me to my ORD SFO flight. Alas she did not offer her number. Global Services is really easy to get used to.

Posted at 21:00:32 GMT-0700

Category: photoPlanesTravel

Why is YYZ always retarded?

Friday, April 11, 2008 

Every week. Uh oh! Maybe the common thread in all my retarded flights is me?

Posted at 17:00:28 GMT-0700

Category: photoPlanesTravel

Water is bad for you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 

One of the great irritations of many “healthy” hippie communities is an obsession with “hydration.” People who wander around with bottles of water “hydrating” for one psudoscientific neo-mystical reason or another with absolutely no evidentiary basis for doing so are emblematic of the sort of self-righteous received knowledge that characterizes fundamentalism and cults.

It is a practice that has always bugged me. I am a runner and I’ve run for hours on hot days without drinking anything to no ill effect. When I was young, waaay back in the prehistoric days before Polyethylene Terephthalate and running high school cross country, we’d take a sip or too from the fountain on a hot day and nobody died. It always struck me as incongruous with my experience that all of a sudden people needed so much more water than they used to just to make it through the day, even in an air conditioned office.

I soon learned that the water craze was not only a bunch of crap, but dangerous, even to runners. I ran the Boston Marathon a few times way back then and one tended to drink a bit here and there along the course, and more and more as the years went by. As people started to obsess about “staying hydrated” (as opposed to not being thirsty) they started suffering from Hyponatremia; so much so that a couple of people have died of it. Apparently nobody has ever died from dehydration along the marathon. Yes, not drinking enough just slows you down; drinking too much will kill you.

“But,” the water fanatics say, “water detoxifies, beautifies, mysticifies, and is an all over tonic for everything that ails you!” As it turns out, not so much. A recent study published in the American Journal of Nephrology found no such benefits. Yes, if you’re wandering around with water bottles you’re merely paying a lot of money for water that’s worse than from the tap and contributing to a problematic waste stream. If you’re thirsty have a sip from the tap.

Posted at 18:24:39 GMT-0700

Category: FunnyPolitics

PHP, Pear, pspell and a core dump

Sunday, April 6, 2008 


I’ve been getting core dumps from HTTPD since doing an update which included PHP. This happened to me before and I thought I’d try the same solution again, but it didn’t work. Pear was due an update portupgrade -ra would get to the update and error out. Attempting manually force it was a dead end:
install ok: channel://
install ok: channel://
*** Signal 11

Couldn’t find any help on except to say it was a PHP problem. That seemed more likely when I found that
# php -v
segmentation fault (core dumped)

Many fingers point to ZEND, and a few to but one pointed to

I deleted that line from my .../etc/php/extensions.ini and voila:

claudel# php -v
PHP 5.2.5 with Suhosin-Patch (cli) (built: Apr 5 2008 16:51:20)
Copyright (c) 1997-2007 The PHP Group
Zend Engine v2.2.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2007 Zend Technologies

I recompiled all the whole PHP dependency tree with -O2 and still it works fine and I could update pear right to 1.7.1

Posted at 01:56:34 GMT-0700

Category: FreeBSDTechnology

snow in Toronto:

Saturday, April 5, 2008 

Winter is finally basically over, but this is really what the snow looked like in the dead of winter – snowbanks literally several stories high.

Posted at 02:00:25 GMT-0700

Category: Related Links