When I first starting working at The Lance (over twenty years ago now, aack!), they had just burned $6,000 — in 1989 dollars, mind you — on a professional desktop-publishing setup. This included a 1200 dpi laser printer, very high quality for the time. One thing I remember about this printer is that there was no such thing as a toner cartridge for it. Instead, there was a simple hopper: you lifted a lid, scooped up some raw toner with a plastic scoop, dropped it in. Repeat until it was full and then you closed the lid. Easy.
Too easy! How are they supposed to gouge you when you can buy bulk toner and just scoop it in like coffee grounds? We all know that printer ink/toner is a racket… Now here’s video proof.
Here are this week’s interesting links:
- The Daily WTF is a website for IT professionals and programmers to share war stories about strange and proposterous things they encounter in their line of work. Most of them require a pretty deep background in IT to be comprehensible… This one is an exception. ‘Four’ reminds me of the stories Melinda used to tell me about her former employer.
- Okay, why didn’t I think of putting a theremin inside a matryoshka doll and selling it on the Internet? The result is called a matryomin, and if the inventor doesn’t die a millionaire, then we don’t live in a just world.
Here follow this week’s ephemera.
- Things you didn’t know you had to worry about: What to do when your pilot gets sucked out the plane window. Um, I have to sit down now. Oh, I’m already sitting? Ah, I didn’t realize. Well, then. *shudder*
- Cars, whole houses, and even severed feet in shoes: The vast field of debris from Japan earthquake and tsunami that’s floating towards U.S. West Coast. Wow — you have to see the photos, if nothing else. Spotted by the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, the debris field is predicted to hit the west coast of North America about three years from now. Forget letters in a bottle, picture some poor Japanese family’s entire home washing up on your shore.
- Growth Rings: Maps of U.S. population change from the 2000 to 2010 census. The continued hollowing-out of Detroit is impressive, but by now that’s only because it’s been going on for so long — the pattern of people moving away from the core to the suburban fringes is universal. They also point out a tiny reversal in the very core of Detroit — for some young people, it’s getting cool to be urban again.
If you drive a car here in Windsor, chances are you noticed that the price of gasoline jumped yet again last night. The gas station at the corner of Wyandotte and Lauzon was selling gas at 129.9 cents per liter. It all seems to be coming true… That’s why I’m pleased to introduce my new baby!
She runs on electricity, gets 50-60 kilometers on a charge, and she’s a fun ride to boot! Not to mention that she’s likely to pay for herself in a matter of months. Admit it: you want one too.
It’s official. The demand for exorcists is higher than ever, and a group of priests and assorted hangers-on at a Roman Catholic university in Rome have identified the source of the problem: it’s the Internet’s fault! With modern communications, it seems, it’s easier than ever for at-risk youth to find information on Satanism and thus expose themselves to the cruel threat of diabolical invasion.
One learned hierophant informs us that ‘people who are possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron, scream, dribble and slobber, utter blasphemies and have to be physically restrained.’ What’s more, he adds, ‘[T]he sex abuse scandals which have engulfed the Church in the US, Ireland, Germany and other countries, were proof that the anti-Christ was waging a war against the Holy See. He said Pope Benedict XVI believed “wholeheartedly” in the practice of exorcism.’
Now, I call that a neat trick: invent an invisible enemy called Satan, then blame him for your own sins. To my mind, what he describes sounds more like a conflation of (a) legitimate mental illness, necessitating psychiatric care, with (b) the entirely justified reaction of a young person at the approach of a Catholic priest. Keep trying, fellas (and they are all fellas): Get enough people to swallow this stuff and your glory days will be back before we know it.
I’m going to start keeping track of cool, fun, interesting, terrifying and/or random things I come across and posting them on a regular basis. Here’s the first collection.
- An eight-year-long thread (and still going strong) of ER docs, nurses, students, paramedics and others who live in the world of emergency medicine, venting about their mostest favouritest patients. (It’s not heartless, just a coping mechanism.)
- Infographic: How to have a rational discussion. By itself it’s not going to change anyone’s mind. However, if you’re ever roped into in a conversation with someone who thinks there’s an actual debate to be had about vaccines causing autism (hint: they don’t), or the reality of the Apollo moon landings, it’s a useful way to gauge how badly they’re wasting your time. As a reasonable person, you will, of course, be making a conscientious effort to follow the rules and reach the “Congratulations” box fair and square. If the other person does not follow the rules, you’re fully justified in cutting off discussion and declaring them the loser.
- From 1905 to 1916, there was a hockey team right here in Canada called the Windsor Swastikas. Not the Windsor I live in, thank God, the one in Nova Scotia. Wikipedia helpfully notes “the Swastikas chose their name as at the time the swastika was a symbol associated with luck and success.” Today, even though the Town of Windsor’s website bills the place as the “Birthplace of Hockey”, the team is mysteriously nowhere to be found on the site.
Woke up this morning to see a plume of smoke stretching across my entire view:
Apparently it’s a plastics-recycling warehouse on fire in Detroit. That would account for the thick black smoke. As I write, it’s been burning for four hours with no end in sight — low water pressure in the area is making the firefighters’ efforts pretty feeble, seemingly. I just hope nobody’s hurt.
Guinness drinkers who drink at home will be familiar with the little plastic ball that rattles around in the can after you crack it open and pour out a pint of dark creamy goodness. If you’ve ever wondered what that thing is for, wonder no longer. I’m not sure how I’d feel about it being replaced by a credit-card-sized piece of filter paper, though. Why wouldn’t it turn to mush and make my beer into a cellulose shake?
Bonus: this guy has made a collection of neat YouTube videos about all kinds of everyday technologies and how they work. Here’s one about pop can pull tabs that seems beer-applicable as well.
Here’s a nice little meme from the past couple of weeks: Motorists, who feel their progress is being hindered by non-motorists, taking matters into their own hands and plowing into crowds of people.
That’s the corner of Tulip and Iris in Summerville, South Carolina, where a couple of weeks ago a mother driving her kids to school encountered a group of students walking in the road who wouldn’t get out of the way and decided to hit the gas. She struck four kids, aged 12 to 14, one of whom was sent to hospital. She was later quoted as saying she wanted to “knock some sense into them”.
Around the same time, in Brazil, a man driving with his 15-year-old son found his car surrounded by a group of slow-moving bicyclists at an event to promote bicycling as a sustainable form of transportation. He was caught on video deliberately accelerating into the group of cyclists, at least three of whom were taken to hospital for their injuries. Mr. Richard Neis said he felt he and his son were threatened as people pounded on the roof and even broke windows.
I agree with Mr. Neis that people should be able to get from one place to another without feeling threatened by their surroundings. Likewise, anyone who’s tried to walk in a car-oriented area without sidewalks, or ridden a bicycle on a six-lane thoroughfare because sidewalks are off-limits, knows how harrowing (and sometimes fatal) it can be, so he has my sympathy. In a lot of ways it would be a relief to live without a car, but if the cost is second-class citizenship, for the moment that’s still too high for me.
So maybe you noticed the price of gas just went up again? Christine was stonkered enough to post a WTF on Facebook last night: 121.6 cents per liter! The reason is pretty simple: Muammar Qaddafi isn’t busy just murdering his own citizens, markets are worried that he also has his loyalists blowing up pipelines to send a message to Libyans that they face a choice between him and ruin. There isn’t enough spare capacity around to replace a shortfall, so: up goes the price.
A couple of weeks ago I calculated how much a $1,000 e-bike would cost in equivalent fuel consumption, and came up with two years’ worth. That number now stands at one year, nine months and ten days or so. Put another way, at the former price of $1.08 per liter, that e-bike is the equivalent of 926 liters of gasoline. Now it’s only 822 liters. Do I hear 700?