April 24, 2007 - 10:41 PM

Wake up call

The founding fathers of my great country were more brilliant than I will ever know. They laid the foundation for a self-policing republic. A sophisticated system of checks and balances ensured no branch could ever abuse its mandate. But more importantly, they created a government of the people, for the people. Their wounds from an oppressive rule still fresh, they fanatically sought a government that served at the behest of its citizens, not the other way around. Though they could have never imagined such modern events as terrorism in its present form, the framework they laid was robust enough to prevent these incidents from being exploited to grow the bureaucracy at the expense of the citizens.

Sadly, what we have now bears scant resemblance to this vision. Our government at every level seeks to extend its power and extinguish individual rights. I've thought long and hard about what led to this tragic demise, to no avail. Perhaps it's the unabated bribery of Congress by special interest groups, or the gradual yet incessant brainwashing by cable news channels, or the increasing political apathy of Americans. But I think it's fair to say no blame rests with our framers. Every corrupt official that grabs power, every citizen whose rights are trampled, every soldier whose life is wasted, is one more step away the United States of America I learned about in history class. One more step away from the land of the free.

Our forefathers left us the gift and dream of a fearful and limited government. Over the years, through our negligence and apathy, we have allowed that dream to rot. Now we have a legislature that serves contributors and not citizens. We have a national agency that listens to private conversations of citizens with no legal justification and no remorse. We have a central bank that is allowed, without oversight or transparency, to control forces that would be left to the market in true capitalism. Our national debt is skyrocketing and the value of the dollar is plummeting lower by the hour. Our armed forces are engaged in a battle that can never be won, against largely invented ghosts that pose no threat to our security, thereby weakening our ability to respond to a genuine attack. Our president's support has never faltered for an attorney general who has publicly renounced the writ of habeas corpus, among many other individual liberties. Our executive branch invents fantasies to justify its unconstitutional and outrageous actions. Sometimes these liars are exposed, but never are they truly punished. Our very revolution was fought over less.

Now, a typical citizen knows more about celebrity gossip than the Bill of Rights. His mind is fattened by a steady diet of sports, "news", television, and other minutiae. Because the erosion of his rights is happening so gradually, he barely notices the stories on the fourth page of his morning paper. Even if he does hear something about the white house erasing thousands of emails destined to be evidence in a criminal proceeding, he doesn't connect it to the endless strand of events that, when taken as a whole, compose a bright red flag that his country is going quickly to the wolves. The worst part is that he, along with the rest of us, is allowing it all to happen.

It's time to wake up. This is not about parties or political alignment. It's about cutting off the ugly diseased limbs from a once noble and beautiful tree, to once again harvest the nourishing fruit we have been missing. It's about doing whatever is necessary to return our country to the greatness it deserves, that we deserve. Wake up, stay informed, discuss, and think. Most of all, never forget and never forgive every seemingly minor breach of your rights.

It's time to take our fucking country back.

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January 9, 2007 - 10:02 PM

Driving me nuts

Sometimes, problems have no solution. That is, we have proven that no solution is possible. Others have no known solution. Still others have solutions that are not only known; they're easy to implement! Those are the ones we usually tackle most readily, but for some reason we haven't bothered with this one.

A staggering number of people deal with traffic on a regular basis - commuting to work, driving to see family or friends, or going out for a night on the town. And we're all painfully aware of the headaches associated with the luxury of driving, especially in a large metropolitan area. Sitting in a traffic jam is perhaps one of the most frustrating things experiences we put ourselves through. Fortunately, I have two ideas that could help dramatically with the problem (that is, if my reader base comprised more than the the guy trying to find jeffevans.com).

I recently had the dubious fortune of spending three months in close proximity to perhaps the worst disaster of urban planning in human history. Anyone who knows New York is nodding and going, "Yeah, the Holland Tunnel." Seriously, has anyone ever just flown through that thing? Now to be fair, the conditions are severe - an outrageous amount of traffic coupled with astronomical maintenance requirements. Still, there is one very simple problem with traffic around the tunnel that can be EASILY fixed, and it became ever more glaring with each night spent in a taxi taking an hour to go a mile and a half.

I'm talking about merging. Normally, the westbound part of the tunnel into New Jersey has no fewer than seven lanes from three different directions (varying by as much as 45 degrees) merging into two. Note that virtually every night I was there only one lane was open due to interminable construction. The vast majority of a driver's time *before he even enters the tunnel* is spent getting into that one lane. The current merging process entering the tunnel can be called chaotic at best - essentially a free-for-all. Each time a car from one lane enters the tunnel, a car from a different lane slinks its way into the front of the line, and so on. Each time this happens, everyone else waiting in one of the lines must stop completely. Then the real kicker - the moment the tunnel lane opens again, since everyone is stopped, someone must start *accelerating* just to get into the now open spot. Every time this "hiccup" occurs, everyone else in the line loses time and the critical resource (traffic bandwidth) is wasted.

There is a simple way to improve the merging process. Regulate access to one or more destination lanes according to the source lane. In fact, we have already solved the harder case of this problem, where traffic is coming from (and moving in) entirely different directions. It's called a traffic light and so far its proven itself remarkably effective. (To continue this analogy, the current merging situation is like having a four way stop sign.)

If we simply place signals above each lane indicating when that *lane* may begin merging, then the number of "hiccups" is cut by a large factor - namely the number of cars from a lane that get to merge before the merging signal turns "red". Of course, this length would have to be balanced with the frequency of switching the green lane to prevent one individual lane from getting too long (and having to wait too long). But in the end this would increase the throughput on the destination lanes, since there would be only a few pauses to the flow while the merging lane switched, as opposed to the current situation, where the pauses occur with every car.

A different city, a different driving wtf. Evidently, the people of Chicago have never seen a man being cuffed on the trunk of a police car by the side of the road. Maybe they don't get their daily dose from COPS, or maybe their reality TV isn't real enough. At any rate, they certainly ACT like it's a big deal when they see it in person, so much so that they *slow down*.

If you've never driven on the freeways in the Chicago metro area, here's a fun experiment for you. Try slowing down by about 10-15 mph during rush hour on I-90 and watch your rearview mirror closely. Then, after you get out of the hospital try getting your friend to do it while you observe from a helicopter.

If you can't guess the result, let me nudge you along. It's a freaking traffic jam. You think I'm joking, but it takes more than one hand for me to count the number of them I've been in during my total of 6 months here that can be *directly attributed* to flashing-light gawkers.

I propose a modest solution. Strap on a video camera to the side of every emergency vehicle. Then, when it's pulled over on the shoulder of a busy freeway, the camera can use photo-video-temporal-analysis-captcha to monitor the speed of passing traffic. Anybody that slows down more than 5 mph without a pressing need to do so, that bastard gets a ticket. Or he gets billed for the lost time of every driver behind him on the road. Note that my boss proposes a less hostile (i.e. less effective) approach - put up a curtain around the scene of interest.

Anyway, with these easy changes to our road systems, we'll be getting to work so fast we may actually have to do work. So on second thought, just scratch everything I said above and have a pleasant evening.

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September 21, 2006 - 12:25 AM

Today at work

A girl from the Hong Kong office said I look like "the father of the Simpson family". It hurt; badly.


9/21/06 by Galo

I bet she is still curious about trying a piece of that, gitt'er done I say

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