Segway Recall

A broad definition of "gyroscopically stabilized vehicle" might include the Segway. It certainly illustrates some of the questions that arise from gyro control of ground transportation systems, such as "What happens when the gyro control fails?" In the case of the Segway, the answer would seen to be "You fall off."

Falling off a Segway is apparently a real problem and a large recall was recently issued as a result. And it not the first. For more discussion check here.

Another question raised by the Segway is "Why?" I guess I am one of those people who just doesn't see the point of the Segway. I grant that it is an impressive technological achievement, but so was the hovercraft. That doesn't automatically make the technological useful (try running a hovercraft on a dry day in the country and you will find out how dusty the great outdoors really is). Maybe I will post at greater length on this issue. In the meantime checkout this great page on building a balancing scooter.

America's Healthcare Crisis

At the risk of upsetting some people I consider friends, it is high time that I started blogging the unholy, heartless, mindless, money-grubbing mess that is "healthcare" in America today.

For my first post, two connected items. We start with the rate that Blue Cross and Blue Shield are now charging my wife and I for basic health insurance ($1,000 deductible and various other limits): $1096.00 per month. In other words, about the size of a mortgage payment on a median-priced home in this part of the country (North Florida). And we think we are pretty healthy! I have high blood pressure but it is controlled by medication, diet, and exercise. My wife smokes but is trying to quit. She also has migraines (for which the medical establishment has failed to find effective treatment). But we don't have diabetes or cancer or any other serious health conditions, and we take an active interest in staying healthy.

The second item is proof that we are not alone. A report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that sponsors independent research on health and social issues, reveals that 89% of working-age adults who shopped for health coverage in the individual market over the last three years were rejected for health reasons or found it too expensive.

See: Study Says Individual Insurance Too Costly
by Lisa Girion, Times Staff Writer, September 14, 2006
(may requires registration, but I find the LA Times do not spam registrants)

The full report is available as a Adobe Acrbat pdf here. I urge you to read it. The health of the nation and its citizens is clearly at risk.

People Will Mess Up Every New Technology for Profit

Classic examples are the mess that spam has made of email, and before that, the mess that viruses made of popular computing. The latest is the mess that splogs are making of blogging. Check out the wired articles I blogged here.

p.s. Glad to see the Treo post worked, and yes, we made it home safely, but there must be a better way for mobile posting than all the screens I went through--some added by Google as it takes over Blogger for profit.

4 of 5 Minivans

...don't move out of the fast lane, even when the driver in the vehicle behind them makes it very clear he or she would like to get past.

(Okay, not a profound rule, but I wanted to test blogging from my Treo 650 while in the car--no, I am not driving while I type this.)

Some of the gyro sites

Here is a very cursory list of sites that have gryo car info:

This is a very useful collection but it would be nice if they acknowledged that they took the scans of the Gyro-X car from my site. [Note: I humbly stand corrected by site owner Douglas Self--he assures me, and I concur, that he obtained the material quite independently of my efforts--and I applaud his continuing efforts to marshal more of the historical data regarding these vehicles].

For example, Douglas has the best collection of data available--to the best of my knowledge--on the amazing Schilovski car.

More on the Schilovski car via the Wolesley UK connection.

Info about a gyroscopically stabilized car in the sixities by inventor Louis Swinney.

More info about same vehicle, actually written by the inventor.

The "large wheel" approach to a gyro car, nicely illustrated.

Wikipedia entry for the Ford Gyron.

You Can't Defeat Terrorists

Losing the War on Terror: Why Militants Are Beating Technology Five Years After Sept. 11, by Ahmed Rashid, Washington Post, Monday, September 11, 2006.

All that money, all those lives. All that rhetoric, all that false hope. Why oh why won't world leaders come out and admit that you can't beat terrorists, then move on?!!

Well there are some obvious reasons why world leaders won't admit that you can't beat terrorists. A lot of 'leaders' are are more politican than leader and for them terrorism is a crutch, a raison d'être. Where would the ratings for George W. Bush be if were not for terrorists? They would be a lot lower than they are now. Heck, if it were not for 9/11 he probably wouldn't even be president. Or he would be facing impeachment for his utter failure in the face of hurricane Katrina.

Just watch the brilliant Brazil and you will see how it is done. The under-pinnings of that movie are the symbiotic relationship between Maggie Thatcher and the IRA. That's right my fellow citizens, the British did not defeat the IRA, they talked to the IRA, legitimized through the political wing, Sinn Féin. Ironically, it was the bombing of New York on 9/11 that put the final mail in the coffin of the IRA's bombing campaign. American support for such action evaporated in the firestorm that consumed the Twin Towers.

I can only hope enough people will take Mr. Rashid's article to heart and be brave enough, courageous enough, to realize that you can't defeat terrorists, but you can win the war on terror IF you are prepared to:

a. Negotiate with the political arm of terrorist groups (e.g. Hamas, which has shown willingness to form part of a legitimate government).
b. Negate the motivation of the terrorist base (e.g. enable Palestinians to transition from refugees to citizens of a viable country with a sustainable economy).
c. Take religion out of the equation (e.g. accept that nobody has a god given right to any piece of land--the alternative is eternal warfare).

And please, please, may we have some leadership on this planet instead of politicians!


Alice Smith CD

Wow, that's some funky stuff. The woman has talent and a very cool groove. Impressive pipes on "I Do." And I love the funky breaks, even trumpets. I swear there is some Arthur Lee influence in there. Thanks to my grrrl Summer for turning me on to this artist.

BTW, does anyone know why the audio and video on MySpace is so good? What technology are they using? The trailer for 'our movie' plays better there than on the official web site.

Money can't always buy votes

A Republican primary race for St. Johns County Commission seats in Florida may seem an unlikely place for me to find a great big ray of hope, but the defeat of two well-funded incumbents in this race is one of the most promising signs I have seen that citizens can be trusted to call the shots. Check these stories for full details:

Basically, well-funded incumbent Stern had raised $197,470 but narrowly lost to Sanchez, who only raised $7,720. Incumbent Maguire raised $140,000 yet was solidly defeated by Manuel, who had only raised $8,860. In others words, and contrary to received wisdom in cynical political circles, you cannot count on reelection just because you have a lot more money than your opponent (bear in mind the total voting age population of the county is less than 125,000).

What lost the election for these two commissioners was a rising tide of discontent about the way they had mishandled growth. For years they both tended to vote the way big developers wanted, and they both took big chunks of money from big developers. At the same time they seriously neglected the growing need for affordable homes and well paid jobs.

Then they showed hubris in the face of criticism. During the race, Commissioner Stern declared that "Over the past five to six years, the Board of County Commissioners has done a commendable job in negotiating with the developers to provide infrastructure improvements." Clearly this is not what most voters think. Those in her own party disagreed enough to express themselves in the voting booths.

I only hope that this trend can be generalized and in November people across the country will vote the way they feel about the following statement:

"Over the past five to six years, the Senate/House/President has done a commendable job of __________ to provide __________."


Finally found some time to blog gyro cars


It looks like I might have found some time to blog the gyro car happenings. I continue to get email from people with questions about gyro cars and the price of petrol keeps fuelling interest in ANY way to burn less fuel. Obviously, some of the appeal of gryoscopically stabilized vehicles is the sheer coolness of riding on two wheels instead of 4 (or 3). But one of the main incentives to develop this type of transportation is the energy-savings inherent in the design. Now that people are finally giving electric vehicles a chance, maybe gyro cars will start to appear on our roads (maybe it was my earlier experiences with electric vehicles that makes me hopeful--I drove an electric truck for several months back in 1971, delivering milk, running for 8 hours at up to 35 miles per hour, with no fumes, no ignition, and almost no noise).

Welcome to the Gyro Car Blog...visit the site when you get a chance. There is no much there yet, but I hope to expand it soon.


So I Got Distracted

Life does have a tendency to intervene sometimes. Here is a quick list of items about which I plan to post more detailed opinions in the near future:
  1. Jeep Liberty Diesel - Good, but why aren't there more of then and why the heck does New York State ban them?
  2. Region Code Hacked Toshiba DVD - Cheap, easy and works great.
  3. Sony Wega Plasma TV - Expensive, complex, and for some viewing works not so great, but when it does work: Wow! When watching HBO's Deadwood in high def you worry that the main street mud might splash onto your living room rug.
  4. Treo 650 - My constant companion and more rugged than you would think, with great battery life and a backlight so bright I use it as a flashlight when navigating my hotel room in the dark.
  5. Marriott Hotels - Highly reliable and honest to boot.
  6. Direcway Satelitte Internet - Works way better than dialup and may be the only alternative to POTS for some rural locations. But there are some kinks, like periodic sluggishness. May get better now it has made the transition to HughesNet.
  7. Extended Range Wifi - Now practical, even on a budget--we now serve our neighbors with a 500 foot link across the marsh using one of these Backfire antennas.
  8. Home Made Heart Monitor - A cheap way to let your doctor hear your heart (plans to follow).
So, with apologies for my tardiness, I will go off and start writing.