Archive for May, 2007

29
May
07

2 baseball-related rants

  1. Roger Clemens should retire or play the whole season. His recent trend of starting the season in late May or early June after deciding both whether to play and for which team makes a mockery of the game and is insulting to other major league players. Some clearly think that his performance over the course of his career has earned him the right to behave this way; I disagree.
  2. Something needs to be done to make the All-Star vote actually elect All-Stars. In recent years, playing for a team from New York was practically the sole necessary qualification for being considered an All-Star. How selections for the All-Star game should be made requires careful thought – it already has a rocky and contentious history. For starters, I propose explicitly barring any player not named David Wright or Jose Reyes who plays for a New York team…
04
May
07

This is a disgrace

A judge in Washington, D.C. is suing a family-owned dry cleaners for $67 million because they lost his pants.  Let that sink in for awhile.

Fortunately, this complete abuse of the legal system has provoked much outrage and has led a number of people to call for his judicial appointment to not be renewed (it is up for renewal soon) or his outright disbarment.  Also, there has been an outpouring of support for the owners of the business, who are immigrants from Korea.  If you feel so compelled, you can contribute to their defense fund at http://www.customcleanersdefensefund.com/.

In many ways I feel like the American legal system explicitly enables the powerful to extort money from the lowly.  It works like this (if you are among the lowly): 1) You get served with a lawsuit.  2) You realize it will cost you tens of thousands of dollars (if not more) to defend yourself.  3) You receive an offer from the plaintiff that they would be willing to settle for single-digit thousands of dollars.  4) Despite no actual culpability on your part, you choose to settle because it’s the only option that won’t leave you bankrupt and potentially disrupt your life for years.  So, the case never goes to court because you can’t afford for it to go to court and the plaintiff scurries off, laughing all the way to the bank.  Your only defense against this is to pray that you never get served with a lawsuit like this.

Interestingly, this judge may have actually done the tort reform movement a great service.  In his extreme greed and malice, he has produced a lawsuit, the absurdity of which numbs the faculties.  I can only hope that the unfathomable senselessness of this lawsuit will motivate the enaction of legislation that puts an end to what can only be seen as bullying and legally codified extortion.  In the meantime, I hope that the judge who hears this case either dismisses it, or has it transferred to small claims court, which is where it belongs.

03
May
07

Colin and Heather’s first Segway experience

You may have heard of these.  You may have seen one whiz by at some point.  Maybe you’ve even seen a police officer or mail carrier on one sometime, but how many of you have actually ridden one?  (I’m actually guessing that the Segway experience of my blog’s readership is probably much higher than the national average.)  Well, a guy who lives nearby has one on loan from the company as part of a project he’s involved with at the MIT Sloan School of Management and he was outside today basically giving rides to anyone who was interested.

It takes a few seconds to get used to.  Your normal inclination is to try to prevent the thing from falling over, since it has only two wheels and you essentially stand on the axel (if there were an axel) between them.  However, you don’t need to try to balance it yourself – that’s what all the accelerometers and motors are for.  To just stand there, you just stand there on top of the thing just like you would stand on the ground.  To go forward, you lean forward or push forward on the handlebars.  To go backward, you pull back on the handlebars.  To turn, you push right or left on the handlebars.  It’s very intuitive and it works really well.  Everybody who rode it tonight was amazed at how cool it was and how easy it was to ride after a few seconds of experience.

Anyway, we all know that a picture is worth a thousand words.  If this is true, I wonder how much a video is worth.  In any case, I posted a video of me riding the thing (note that it basically has a turning radius of zero) and a video of Heather learning how to ride it.  They’re neat and if I had a spare $5000 lying around, I’d be tempted.  A guy who lives nearby who will be graduating soon and starting a job with a nice signing bonus stated tonight that he’ll be buying one as soon as he’s done.




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