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I hear all this news about the 2010 Gulf Oil Disaster lately and pretty often I'm thinking something along the lines of "why don't they just ____" where the blank is some idea that would actually probably work. In all seriousness, I don't think any of the measures they've tried so far are well-planned, from an engineering point of view, or from a common sense point of view. Let's call them quarter-cocked, because I think that's pretty much where they stand.

Jon Stewart actually did a pretty good job of summing up what's happened so far with the effort to stop the leak.

SURFACE OIL - When the spill was first announced on the news, I was asking myself, "why aren't they siphoning this oily water from the surface into some kind of container?" Sure, they put up those floating barricades, but those really only slow it down. In situations where such a spill would be so difficult to contain, they need to be ready with some really damn big plastic bags. I'm talking about bags that will hold millions of gallons of fluid. Just siphon the oily water first into a big tall container pulled by a small ship, let the oil and water separate, pump the water from the bottom back out to sea, and siphon the oil off the top into the bag. Easy enough! A few really big bags would hold enough oil that they would have the time to get a tanker into place to hold more of it. With this method, very little of the oil from the early part of the spill ever would have reached the shore.

FAULTY VALVE - So the robots couldn't turn the valve? Ever hear of a cheater bar? Anyone?

TOP KILL - As Jon outlined in his segment, most of the plans to stop the leak so far have involved injecting crap into the pipe to stop the oil flow. Hey, that's a great idea, actually! But aren't we forgetting something? That oil is gushing out with a vengeance. These are the ghosts of a billion dead dinosaurs trying to come back to reclaim the Earth from the living. The pressure from a thing like that is extreme and it's coming to us along a large cross-sectional area as well. So anything we put in that pipe to try to plug it is going to be subjected to fantastic pressures. So then, what are we missing? Well, they're trying to make this crap they're shooting into the pipe stick against a smooth surface. Not only that, it's continually being OILED! Seriously, what did they think the odds were of that working? How about this: insert the top-kill tube into the oil pipe, then pinch a section of the pipe to narrow it? Then, when the concrete and whatever else is fed into the pipe, it has something to get stuck against! Why can't the leadership at BP think of this?

ROBOTS WITH SAWS - I'm not entirely against the plan to use robots with saws. It's not a bad plan right off. But I am against the fact that they're pretty much creating a situation where those robots are going to cut the top of that pipe off, increase the flow of oil by 20%, then look at each other, shrug their shoulders, and ask each other "why did the Humans just make us do that?" Simply cutting the pipe is not a plan. Trying to top-kill the cut pipe, which has 20% more flow coming out of it, is also NOT a plan, or at least not a good one. What BP needs is a plan that will actually work. Sure, use the robots to cut the pipe. But before doing that, use robots to either cut threads in the pipe just below the point where they're going to cut the top off, or weld a larger threaded section to the pipe. Either would work fine. Then, after the pipe is cut, attach a new section of pipe, using the threads. This new section of pipe has what's called a "valve that actually works". Using their current subcontractors, BP may not actually be able to obtain such a thing. They may have to think outside their tiny little box a bit in order to find a way to get one. But if they manage to find one, the robots could then be used to maneuver the section of pipe with the valve over the top of the cut pipe and attach it. Since the valve would initially be open, the oil would be free to flow while the new section is being put in place. For that reason, it would not necessarily be blown into the great blue yonder by oil pressure. Then, once it's screwed on, the robots could close the valve. Yay, the Gulf is saved.

But they're probably just not going to do any kind of sensible thing. If it were the kind of organization to do the sensible thing, the blowout preventer would have been maintained properly in the first place. In this sort of organization, people who know that they're doing get their ideas stolen and then they get fired. Or, they say the right thing to the wrong person and get fired. But the basic idea is that if they could fix the sort of mess BP has now created, they were already fired years ago. That is, if they ever got hired in the first place.
28 November 2009 @ 01:01 pm
Sometimes, even when you're only searching U.S. sellers for an item on eBay, it can be difficult to find the real deal. This has been the case for me in searching for a pair of Sony MDR-V900HD headphones. Quite often, I think the case is that the U.S. seller bought a knockoff for personal use, decided they didn't like it (of course), and will do pretty much whatever they can think of in order to convince themselves and others that it's a legit item and they simply have a perfectly good reason to want to resell it. I mean, who wouldn't want their $40+ back in a case like this? Here is one such item:

Image behind cut.Collapse )

This was the exchange of messages that came about from my attempt to determine if they were real:

I'm wondering where these were originally purchased and if you feel you can be fairly certain these are real V900 headphones? If I can be assured they're real, I would purchase them at your buy it now price. But there are more knock-off copies of this model than there are real ones, so I would like to try to be sure.

These were shipped from China and the actual earcuffs have the correct model number, they look well made, and don't appear to be knock-offs. I certainly understand the reason for the question. I looked over everything carefully and all seems OK. I just didn't like them as much as the 600's. If you'd like a picture of the everything inside the box, let me know and I'll update the auction again. If I can't I can email it to you directly.
Thanks for asking.

From all the research I've done, Sony does not manufacture these in China at all. A few of their best products are still made in Japan. The rest are made in places like the Philippines and Thailand. However, most of the knock-offs of their high-end headphone models are labeled "made in China", to make it seem more legitimate that they're being shipped from China. If my research is a little wrong and they are actually making some things in China, it still would not include their best products, such as the MDR-V900HD.

I'm sorry to have to be the one to inform you that yours probably are not real. However, it does at least explain why they don't sound quite as good as your pair of V600s.

The "UPDATE" added at the bottom of the auction was in response to my last message to the seller. Obviously, if the headphones came in a box that has the right model number on it and says "SONY," they must be a real Sony product. As we all know, copying model numbers and printing "SONY" on a box is hella hard.

The headphones did sell at the buy it now price.
12 July 2009 @ 10:44 pm
Alright everyone, I've found a slight flaw with the images used for this eBay listing. For the event that the listing is deleted, maybe in like 90 days or so, I'm also posting the images in question behind this cut!Collapse )

Anyone else notice what's wrong? If I've shown you this, don't ruin it for everyone else.
29 April 2009 @ 12:43 pm
Alright everyone, it's time for me to step up on my soapbox for a moment here and be serious in this journal for once.

The reaction I'm getting from most friends when I ask them about the current swine flu thing is basically that the press would exaggerate it no matter what, so there has to be nothing to worry about. Let's think on it for a moment though. Disclaimer: NONE OF THIS POST IS DIRECTED AT ANYONE SPECIFIC!  DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY!

The numbers we're seeing in the press would probably suggest a mortality rate of about 6% in Mexico, so far. And, of course, this could be off in either direction, depending on which input statistic is wrong and how. It's probably high, but it could also be low, since the press is most likely to exaggerate statistics for both the number of deaths AND the number infected. Most of the people who are currently infected with it in Mexico haven't gotten over it yet, so more of them could still die and raise the statistic higher.

Alright, now let's suppose either the press is greatly exaggerating the mortality rate from this thing or it's somehow just really adept at killing Mexicans for some odd reason. Suppose the mortality rate from it is only a measly 0.1%. 0.1% doesn't sound all that high, right? So, everyone's individual chances of dying from it would seem pretty low. Yeah, sure, but what's that mean about the overall death toll? Well, the US population is around 306 million, so it would kill 306,000 people in the US alone. That's about half the death toll of the U.S. Civil War. Sure, something like 4.3 million people were going to die over the next year anyway, right? Well, I hate to break it to you, but this thing probably wouldn't have killed most of them anyway, because most of them have depressed immune systems. The young and healthy are apparently the MOST likely to die from this thing. This, by the way, is a big cause for concern, for those of you who didn't catch on to that yet.

The worldwide death toll, with a fixed 0.1% mortality rate, would be about 6.7 million. However, I gather that the toll would be higher in really populated parts of the world with poor medical care. In some parts of Asia, it would likely be higher than what we're seeing in Mexico right now. My guess would be about 400 million worldwide, primarily due to the crowding and medical care conditions of some countries.

Sure, a lot of people may never actually know someone well who dies from this thing. So I'm not saying it's a reason to go buy canned goods and lock yourself in the basement for the next year. The point is that A LOT of people will probably die from it. Possibly hundreds of millions! Sure, I'm all about curbing overpopulation, but this isn't the way. These are REAL PEOPLE, dying in a horrible way. Yeah, I get it, some of you don't care because you probably won't personally die from it. So what? Where's the compassion for everyone else?

By the way, I'd like to point out that even the U.S. death toll I speculated is far higher than the the number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq. If you're the type to moan about the U.S. deaths in Iraq and don't shed a care about the likely death toll from this thing, nobody should trust in your sincerity regarding such issues.
22 April 2009 @ 10:48 am
So last night I'm poking around on eBay in this guy's <99% feedback to see what the deal was. Yeah, isn't it funny that I get concerned when feedback is less than 99%? Does that say something about eBay?

For the IMGs!Collapse )
Current Mood: amusedamused
08 April 2009 @ 09:08 am
Last night, I finished up my assignment for Graph Theory and submitted it at 11:57. I thought I was done with the class for the week. Then at about 12:10 I checked the site again. "Dr. Hu" had assigned a "quiz."

It consisted of this:
1. Problem 3.7.2 in the text.
2. Problem 3.7.8 in the text.
3. Problem 4.4.2 in the text.
4. Problem 5.1.7 in the text.
5. Problem 5.2.2 in the text.

And yes, that was how it was written.

This is just not a proper quiz.
23 March 2009 @ 05:42 pm
Yeah, my MIS book really sucks.

In chapters 7 and 8, I started noting an unusual number of strange errors, mostly in spelling and such.  Cut for length. Click to read more!Collapse )

So yeah, school life remains an interesting thing, for the wrong reasons.
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
26 February 2009 @ 12:42 pm
Yeah, this is the kind of world we live in:

The News

Isn't that just terrific?

24 February 2009 @ 07:08 am
I will admit that Obama has indeed gotten his economic stimulus bill through congress very fast, just as the news articles have been saying. Not that I think this is any great achievement, since it shouldn't have been very hard given that the congressional majority is in his favor right now in both the House and Senate.

And here's why I think that, along with some pictures.Collapse )
12 January 2009 @ 11:05 pm
Oh Pred Forte, to splash a drop of you in each eye tastes of heaping spoonfuls of that white dust from inside balloons.  Oh, how I loathe thee.
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