Boeing Replaces Humans with Potatoes

I thought this was hilarious...

From Engadget:
Boeing has hauled in around 20,000 pounds of potatoes to use as human substitutes during its tests with airplane WiFi. The aircraft maker is checking that onboard wireless signals don't interfere with navigation and communication systems. Groaningly titled SPUDS (Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution), the tubers apparently replicate how airborne signals are bounced and absorbed by real-life passengers, but without the need for Boeing to offer complimentary snacks or tiny drinks during testing.

You may not realized it yet... but ObamaCare is a Joke

What you may not yet fully understand is that no one - and I mean no one - has any idea how we are actually going to run ObamaCare. With the entitlement package looming, 26 states have refused to participate and only 6 states have been given "conditional" approval on their design for the exchanges which will be used to offer and buy coverage.

The best part? Certain states have taken to filing freedom of information act requests in order to figure out what the fuck is going on...

From the WSJ:

For sheer political farce, not much can compete with ObamaCare's passage, which included slipping the bill through the Senate before dawn three Christmas eves ago. But the madcap dash to get ready for the entitlement's October 2013 start-up date is a pretty close second.
The size and complexity of the Affordable Care Act meant that its implementation was never going to easy. But behind the scenes, even states that support or might support the Affordable Care Act are frustrated about the Health and Human Services Department's special combination of rigidity and ineptitude.
To take one example, for the better part of a year states and groups like the bipartisan National Governors Association and the National Association of Medicaid Directors have been begging HHS merely for information about how they're required to make ObamaCare work in practice. There was radio silence from Washington, with time running out. Louisiana and other states even took to filing Freedom of Information Act requests, which are still pending.
Getty Images
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius
Now post-election, new regulations are pouring out from HHS—more than 13,000 pages so far and yet nuts-and-bolts questions are still unanswered. Most of what we know so far comes from a 17-page question-and-answer document that HHS divulged this week, though none of the answers have the force of law and HHS says they're subject to change at any moment.
HHS is generally issuing rules with only 30 days for public comment when the standard is 60 days and for complex regulations 90 days and more. But the larger problem is that HHS's Federal Register filings reveal many of the rules were approved in-house and ready to go as early as May. Why the delay?
To take another example, the feds are building a data hub to determine who is eligible for Medicaid and ObamaCare's "exchanges," the bureaucracies that will dispense insurance subsidies and police the market. Many states have cut administrative costs by combining the application process for Medicaid, food stamps, cash assistance and other antipoverty programs, but HHS's privacy rules say the hub can only be used for ObamaCare. So HHS will force states to become less efficient and flatly refuses to reconsider.
In a word, HHS is treating the states not as the partners it needs to give ObamaCare any chance of success, but as serfs.
HHS did finally if "conditionally" approve the exchange blueprints of six states this week, though it has yet to release any formal objective standards for conditional approval. Some 24 states are refusing to participate, so the agency will be running a federal fallback exchange that it won't reveal how it will operate.
A federal exchange is a vast undertaking. The clearinghouses will be open to the uninsured but also to small businesses and people who already buy plans on the individual market. On average about a quarter of a state's population are expected to at least browse the exchange options, and the share will be far higher in states with large numbers of uninsured people under 65, like New Mexico (24%), Georgia (22%) and Texas (27%).
If 20% of Americans use exchanges, that's 62 million people. At a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Thursday, ObamaCare point man Gary Cohen all but took the Fifth on how he'll deal with this and other challenges.
The exchange naysayers now notably include Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bill Haslam of Tennessee. Sure, they're Republicans, but both Governors flirted with the idea and wanted to participate if it would result in a saner and more rational marketplace. The costs and risks were too high.
HHS also declared this week that states can decide either to expand Medicaid (after the Supreme Court decision made it optional), or not. But states are not allowed to make the partial expansion that many states would have considered. This all-or-nothing political gambit is meant to put the Governors in a bad political spot at home if they don't expand, but the irony is that many of them would participate if HHS gave them more flexibility to manage their own programs and control costs.
Yet HHS has made it almost impossible to qualify for Medicaid waivers. States aren't even allowed to "go green" by using digital instead of paper applications. These "maintenance of effort" rules weren't carved in stone tablets by LBJ. HHS formalized them in a regulation this February.


In other implementation hilarity, no fewer than 18 Democratic Senators and Senators-elect came out last week against ObamaCare's $28 billion tax on medical device sales—and not just the usual penitents from Massachusetts and Minnesota. The list includes Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin and Patty Murray.
"With this year quickly drawing to a close, the medical device industry has receive little guidance about how to comply with the tax—causing significant uncertainty and confusion for businesses," they write about the tax most of them voted for.
The last entitlement to get off the ground was President Bush's Medicare prescription drug benefit. Those rules were tied up with a bow by January 2005, giving business and government nearly a year to prepare—and that was far simpler than re-engineering 17% of the economy. No one knows where the current magical mystery tour is headed, especially not HHS.


Apple is Killing Australians

Ok... so no one has actually died yet.. but the idiocy which is Apple Maps is *nearly* killing off a large percentage of the Australian population (there aren't that many down there to start with - most Aussies are off getting drunk in youth hostels around Europe from what I can see).

Not long after it appeared in the Apple's latest operating system, people noticed that it had a habit of showing destinations in the wrong locations, like a museum located underwater, or refusing to show locations at all, like the town of Stratford-Upon-Avon and most of a few world metropolises.

The near death experiences are coming because Apple Maps lists the town of None of that has apparently helped drivers looking for the town of Mildura, in Victoria, Australia however. Apple Maps still places the hamlet in the middle of the Murray-Sunset National Park, about 44 miles southwest of its actual location. The displaced location map issue has reportedly left six drivers lost or stranded in the national park for up to 24 hours without food or water, in temperatures that can reach up to 115 degrees in the Outback with no phone reception. Six people have had to be rescued in the past two months, and now Mildura police have issued a statement calling the situation "a life threatening issue," urging caution when using Apple Maps.

Apple - trying to kill off Australia.

Square is Back: The new Chevy Silverado Samples from the 90's

I have a '96 Chevy Tahoe. One of the things I love about my pre-millennium towing and hauling machine is that it is unapologetically a big truck. The design team drew two boxes and more or less called it a day. I love the way it looks.
Towing my briefly lived 300zx

 After a long period of making pretty rounded out trucks (especially in the early 2000s), Chevy today revealed their new Silverado/Sierra, and it looks.. a lot like mine.

Which is to say - I like the design. It's a truck - it should look like a truck. Leave the crossover looks to the crossovers. Also - I like that it doesn't have the ridiculous "look at me" front grill of the Tundra or Ram - the 3rd and 4th best selling full-size trucks in the US always look like they are compensating for something.

Toyota Tundra Ultimate Fishing Truck
Can you actually see what's in front of you? Probably not.

Unions Strike Again: Drinking on the Job Not Enough to get Fired

You might not have a job right now, but these guys do:
Chrysler workers drinking on the job

These two chuckleheads work for Chrysler - or more accurately for President Obama.

Here is the story in a nutshell: "the 13 workers who were fired in 2010 after local news cameras caught them drinking alcohol and smoking what looks to be marijuana in a park during work hours have been reinstated following arbitration."

What can Chrysler say or do at this point? Not a whole lot. The UAW is running the show:

"Chrysler Group LLC acknowledges the reinstatement of a number of employees from the Jefferson North assembly plant who were discharged from the company in September 2010 after appearing in a local TV station's story about their off-duty conduct."

While the company does not agree with the ultimate decision of the arbitrator, we respect the grievance procedure process as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement and our relationship with the UAW. Unfortunately, the company was put in a very difficult position because of the way the story was investigated and ultimately revealed to the public. These employees from Jefferson North have been off work for more than two years. The time has come to put this situation behind us and resume our focus on building quality products that will firmly establish Chrysler Group's position in the marketplace."

Yeah - so those guys are back on the job. Does Chrysler want them? No. Do they deserve to have jobs? No. The best part is theses are senior UAW workers - which means their average pay is somewhere around $65/hr. I wonder why Toyota and Honda are more efficient and more productive building cars in the US than the "big 3" are... I wonder...

If I Only Had a Gulch...

If you have not read Atlas Shrugged, go do so. Then come back here. I'll be waiting.

Don't worry - the last 1000 pages go pretty fast

a little while later...

Yes - I know the book is 500 pages too long and I know the characters are... interesting... but, getting beyond that to the point of the book: I wish I had a gulch.

Right now I am working my ass off and hiring people. And most of those people suck. People can't show up on time, constantly want to take breaks or just, in classic Atlas Shrugged fashion, want to avoid being responsible for anything.

At the same time I live in a country (the USA) where I feel like the government more and more approximates the government in the novel. Everything has to be done "for the good of society" while "profit for profit's sake" is obviously evil and a sign of anti-social behavior. Companies should think first about their employees or the environment, not about making money.

I also increasingly feel completely un-represented in any way. I am planning on moving to New Hampshire - which is at least something of a Gulch though becoming less so. Perhaps Texas will succeed, though I am not sure I fancy the heat or bible thumping.

Maybe I can start my own sealand, though that seems kind of boring.
Not a lot to do... 
Of course the reality is that I will stay where I am and work my ass off and there are many many other people who are doing the same - not just the rare few left in the world of Atlas Shrugged. However, it is galling sometimes to see so many useless, manipulative and shitty people - and to know they are the ones running the country.

Love Your Old Saab Hatchback? Get the New BMW 3-Series GT

I never understood why the hatchback sedan was not more widely adopted. I grew up in Saab 9000's and I have since owned one myself. They make so much more sense than a traditional sedan there is literally no comparison. And there is no downside - you don't have to look like you are driving around in a mom-mobile because it isn't a wagon - it's just a sedan with the hinge at the top of the rear glass.

Maybe there is some complex reason why they are more difficult to design - something about cross-member stress and the strength of the c-pillars. Meh. Saab did it for years and they were the size of a flea compared with ToMoCo and GM.

Not to rehash old ground here... but the 9000 Aero was a large hatchback sedan which was incredibly fun to drive, got 250+ hp from a turbo 4 and was very safe while getting almost 30mpg - all in the early 90's. Ahead of it's time? You bet.

More practical than your car, guaranteed

So what has BMW done? After many years of letting Audi reign with the practical crowd (RWD is fun - but north of the Mason-Dixon line not all that practical) they have decided to go after the old Saab market.

Starting in 2014 BMW will offer the 3-series as a "GT" - which means hatchback which isn't a wagon in BMWeze.

First - I am not really sure whey they went with the extend-o-butt. Yes, it probably does increase the internal storage space, but it looks pretty odd, mitigating some of the beauty of the whole hatchback-sedan design.

However, if you can get this in AWD with a manual and a good engine you are looking at one hell of a combination. My problem though? Given how ugly the back end is, you might as well get the wagon...

Anyway, a step in the right direction in my opinion - hopefully someone will pick up the torch and start building good looking sporty sedans with hatchbacks. Or I could buy and restore an old 9000 Aero... hmmm....

Voyager is at the Final Frontier

Space... the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Voyager. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new mostly empty areas, to seek out new other empty areas, to boldly go where no one has gone before. Oh yeah, and to bring along some serious bling.

It's like a grill for space ships

So, turns out that the Voyager is on.. the final frontier. Before reaching "interstellar" space. In other words, it just crossed over into the last zone where our sun is more or less still in charge of everything. Currently the spacecraft is passing through what scientists are calling a "magnetic highway" - which was, in fact, invented by Al Gore. 

Voyager 1 reaches 'magnetic highway,' gets a taste of interstellar space
I'll give you interstellar wind, Trebek
This is really just the pre-party though. The real party comes when Voyager crosses over out of the magnetic control of our sun... which could be anywhere from a few months to a few years away. At that point, Voyager will do a little dance, make a little love, and get down with being the first man-made object to truly leave our solar system. Groovy 70's science still kicking ass: it's impressive.