LRT Collisions

There are things that no one ever tells you about LRT or light rail transit until you get it in your city. My twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo are rather small so there are only 14 vehicles or trains.

There have been 10 car accidents with the LRT vehicles and we’ve only had the service since June 21st. Now I can detect an easy pattern. Like this one: the cars won’t rest until ever single train has been damaged. I imagine that by the end of the calendar year all 14 LRT vehicles will have been hit.

It’s my opinion that the cars are playing superiority and territorial games. “This is my city and my roads,” the cars are saying. “Size doesn’t intimidate us so just beware!” Each train costs almost 7 million dollars. Each car only costs maybe $30 000. What does the car driver have to lose?

Well actually I’ve heard the price of some of the accidents’ damage to the trains and it is about the cost of a new car. The car driver is going to have to get used to paying more insurance because the accidents have all been the car driver’s fault.

Aren’t used car drivers supposed to be wary when buying a car? They’re supposed to make sure that the car has been in no accidents or at least minimal ones. This is because each accident the car is in, even though the car has been fixed, makes it less structurally sound than a new car.

Well each LRT train is likely to be hit by some date soon and they will all be less structurally sound than when new. All of us non car drivers are going to pay.

Thanks for making it clear that in this city at least, we just can’t have nice things. At least not for transit.

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The Butterfly Effect

The butterfly effect is a chaos theory example of how small differences in initial conditions can cause a hugely different outcome much later in some systems. One influential paper is called: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?

Of course this idea changes everything. Like if we don’t like the loss of life that often occurs with tornadoes, we could try to wipe them out entirely by exterminating butterflies globally. I am not going to be tripped up easily in this mission. I know that moths have the same type of flap and come in the same types of sizes as butterflies. So of course we would find it necessary to wipe them out, too. But it’s all for the greater good.

But if one little butterfly’s flap can cause a tornado what about the giant, monstrous moth, Mothra? Mothra is said to have a wingspan of 250 meters. What could the flap of those wings do to poor old mother earth’s weather?

Personally I think it would be so disastrous that earth beings could very likely be wiped out. Which is why I believe that Mothra has never visited the earth. Instead, I believe it has ended up affecting the weather on Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system.

I bet you’re going to ask if I have any proof for this outlandish claim. Well it is my thinking that Mothra flapped its wings once, a millennia ago on Jupiter, which eventually created the great red spot. This storm has been seen for hundreds of years by astronomers, since observations were first taken of Jupiter. This storm is also the diameter of 3 earths which should sufficiently scare you about the possibility of Mothra causing something similar on the earth.

But is this the worst possible calamity that could be caused by the flap of some wings?

Well stars, including our sun, are said to have weather as well. The Carrington Event of 1859 caused a coronal mass ejection on the sun that hit earth’s magnetosphere and caused disruptions of telegraph systems all over the earth. A solar event like this today would cause widespread blackouts and remind us that the weather of the sun definitely affects the earth.

But nothing can live on the sun. Or can it? Mike Brotherton’s Star Dragon is one such beast that not only lives on a star but thrives there and has control of much of its environment. Maybe one flap of its mighty wings can cascade over a few months and cause a modern day Carrington Event.

So maybe we’ll have to exterminate Mothras and Star Dragons as we venture out into space. But maybe we’ll be too soft to do it because after all we will have no tornadoes affecting our lives in the future.

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Why Artists Seem to Love the San Andreas Fault

It must have begun with some of the earliest plays out California way. Actors and other artists know it is their bread and butter to cause some reaction in people. So after the earthquake/play they were delighted to hear the audience say that “the performance moved me”.

Both sides might be aware of the literal meanings of those words, because of a fault slip or whatever, still, the actor will internalize it as an effective performance.

This and technology was the start of the legend of Hollywood. The silver screen went over big there and the kudos for the actors expanded. Now all across the country, people could be moved by what they saw. Moving pictures were high praise for any actor so the best of them began moving across country to the San Andreas fault’s area. Which created more moving pictures and the cycle continued.

Los Angeles especially began attracting all kinds of artists. Like musicians who made the area one of the true meccas for music.

Not only was the music moving, but it also stirred something deep inside its fans. Before a single note was played. A fault will do something like that. It’s so powerful that it will make the fans and the act evacuate the building, too. Only to come back on a less stirring night, because sometimes the music moves you too much.

Somehow Hollywood artists found themselves in the age of hyperbole. Not only did they manage to eke out an existence in this age, they also thrived as never before. How many of these artists loved to hear “That was an earth shaking performance!”

An artist may even have been disappointed by this truism. Especially if it were her goal to hear her performance was “Truly earth shattering!”

And then there is the more personal. Like “Your performance literally shook me to my core.” This might be the artist’s true goal.

But we should beware of the artist who is of singular vision and wants to go out with a bang. Stealing the plot from the Superman movie of the seventies, they may wish to move their audience like never before. Thus rigging a nuclear weapon in the San Andreas fault set to go off during the climax of their performance.

This would likely shake them at least as far as Las Vegas. Undoubtedly the performer would die but thinking ahead they would have a live feed to the part of the world that wouldn’t be shook that much.

So whose fault would we say it is then?

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Making Insects Into Spiders

Let’s say someone mocks you for calling spiders insects. There is only one way out of this (that is if you rule out killing the mocker – which usually isn’t done in polite society). That way out is somehow making insects into spiders.

How can you turn an insect into a spider when it most obviously has six legs whereas spiders have eight legs? But the insect has two antenna. So to mimic the spider, all the insect would have to do is bow its head way down so its antenna touch the ground. Then the mock spider would have two lame legs as well as six fine legs. The more sophisticated insect would be able to move its antennae and thus possibly use all eight “legs”.

But spiders usually have eight eyes, where insects have two compound eyes. This could be remedied by the very steady handed and fine eyed maker. Compound eyes come in units. All you would have to do is poke these units with a needle until there are only eight units left. For symmetry’s sake you might want to leave four from each compound eye. Now I’m not sure if an insect could see with these eight “eyes” but maybe so.

It’s harder to make an insect spin a web. But a life stage of insects can spin webs. That is the caterpillar of moths or butterflies can spin silk or other web like strings.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. These caterpillar webs won’t be sticky enough to trap prey that lands on it. If only there were an insect that could make a glue and its solvent.

Leaf cutter ants are quite the chemists. They use cut leaves to make a nutritional fungal growth to feed their nest. Could we not redirect its hard work and chemistry to make both a glue and its solvent? The leaf cutter ant could attach the glue to the caterpillar’s web then use the solvent to walk on it without being stuck. Then it could catch other insects or perhaps a spider (how’s that for turnabout?) They could feed off these creatures and thus procreate and grow this new breed of spider like insects.

But wait I’m using different species of insect to mimic one lone species of spider. Well all but one of these things could be done by (or to) ants. Perhaps they could enslave a species of moth or butterfly caterpillar to help feed themselves. Then when the caterpillar finished its spinning it could make a cocoon, enjoy its metamorphosis and then fly away. Heaven help it if it lands on the web again.

And that is how an insect can become a spider. It would probably take a lifetime to make all this a reality with even the most cutting edge science. All for not using the word bug. Spiders and insects are all bugs. I know this now.

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I Want to Be a Superior Being

A lot of the people that try to be superior beings do not have simple, step-by-step, actionable plans to get there. I on the other hand, do.

Ontario is my Canadian province that I live in. It is the Great Lake province. It borders all the Great Lakes. But it is named after the tiniest most insignificant Great Lake. Nothing is stopping us from shifting lakes.

Erie is the second smallest Great Lake and I have trouble with what we would be called if we were to be named after that lake. Eriean? Erier? The latter one might be confused with eerier. The former might make people pause too much with three vowels in a row.

Huron isn’t even a proper lake. It is a mere part of a lake. Lakes Huron and Michigan are at the same height above sea level. Which means the channel that connects them isn’t a river and they are thus the same lake. By surface area, Huron-Michigan is the largest fresh water lake in the world.

This also means that the US doesn’t have one whole Great Lake enclosed by its borders.

I don’t want to be named after Lake Huron-Michigan. There is already the state of Michigan in the US. And I don’t want to fight with Michiganis about names.

That leaves Lake Superior. Here, too, I don’t like the usual suspects for the names of inhabitants of Superior. Superiorers is tongue twisting. Superians just doesn’t have magic. But when we can use a simple phrase like Superior beings, that’s when I’m all in.

So changing the name of the province of Ontario to Superior is my actionable plan to become a Superior being. I will march on the government of this province to ensure this name change. Some that would be superior beings might meditate and seek wisdom wherever it is found. Whatever. Notice that my kind of Superior being comes with a capital S. It’s quite obvious which is Superior.

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The Exaggerated 21st Century

Are we so insecure of our accomplishments in the 21st century that we must embellish the truth?

Because we didn’t live up to the Back to the Future series hype, a few years ago, we began calling a wheeled board a hover board. Look. You’re not fooling anyone. Anyone can see the wheels. Call it a powered skateboard if you wish. It certainly is no hoverboard.

I keep making the next point again and again. Robot Wars and Robot battles as they are called are nothing of the sort. They are remote controlled battles and RC Wars. A robot consists of something moveable and a brain. That is a mechanical brain or an electronic brain. Not Ted’s brain which you think should be good because Ted is good at battle video games.

But this overreach has crept into our high tech, too. Richard Branson calls his rocket system that barely gets us to space for a few minutes, Virgin Galactic. What a galaxy has to do with it is anyone’s guess. Perhaps he refers to the Milky Way galaxy which may be visible ship board. I have news for them. The Milky Way Galaxy is easily visible from inside Earth’s gravity well, too. You just need a spot to see it that is away from light pollution and clouds.

Elon Musk has provided one of the most over reaching names thus far. A rocket whose ultimate use might be going to Mars is being called Starship. This is so misleading. The difference between getting to another planet and getting to another star intact is so huge it’s astronomical. Pun intended because this is literally what the word astronomical represents.

What is next on the agenda with this 21st century overreach? “Goodbye, coworkers. I’m going to time travel to our meeting tomorrow morning.”

“Did you see my flying car? It really flew down the expressway. Too bad all the wheeled traffic slowed me.”

“With this camera, I replicated you into 2D!”

“My orange glove is really a flamethrower fist! The more I tighten my fist the more it works!”

But I think the most galling thing about 21st century exaggeration is AI or artificial intelligence. A few years ago the tech explainers began saying that AI is really like a black box whose hood you can’t really look under. Now the cynical tech giant (and all the tech giants are cynical) can take this as meaning you can use anything as long as its tracks can be covered.

The supposedly AI assistants like Siri and Alexa have been found to phone home to their corporate masters. This is disturbing for privacy but they might also reach out for improved programming. One thing that they can for sure do is speak with a human if the AI has problems interpreting or figuring. So is this fool’s AI? I would say almost certainly that it is especially if you have to pay a subscription fee (that could pay for ongoing human interaction).

So in the 21st century you may not get the AI you want but it might just be the AI you deserve. Just like we may not get the tech we want but it is really the tech we deserve. To get otherwise, we must not let the tech giants get away with language slippage.

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Werewolves On the Moon

Werewolves are said to transform in the presence of a full Moon. Why is this? Well there must be something special about all that light coming from the sun and reflecting off the Moon and arriving at Earth.

I think it has to do with the quantity of moonlight received by the Earth. Too little, like during a 1st or last quarter of a Moon and there is not enough total moonlight to transform anything like a werewolf. Certainly there is zero chance of a transformation during a new Moon. Only a full Moon provides enough moonlight.

If this is true, then during a period when the Moon is furthest from the Earth, even a full Moon might not be enough. Conversely, when the Moon is at its closest or a super Moon there might be five nights when the werewolf prowls. The middle of these two extremes, the full Moon, or transformation time, might be 3 nights.

The other effect on moonlight occurs when the Earth’s shadow eclipses the Moon. This happens for a couple hours every once in a while and might put a big damper on the hunting that a werewolf could do that night. Imagine being a weak human for that two hours. Bah!

So, a rocket ship containing a werewolf astronaut on a trip to the Moon would likely see more and more moonlight as it approached the Moon. Indeed, as the ship went in orbit around the Moon, more than 3 quarters of the time the werewolf would be in its wolf phase. This would be because more than 3 quarters of the time a slice of Moon larger in area than the full Moon as seen from the Earth, would be visible.

As the ship descended from orbit, this would no longer be the case. As it landed all the effective moonshine would exist from horizon to horizon. But half the time there would be no effect because half the time the Moon is in the dark during its period of orbiting the Earth. So there would be a two week cycle of being a human, then there would be sunrise and a two week cycle of being a wolf.

It would seem counter intuitive that a werewolf in its wolf phase would operate in the daytime on the Moon. But that is a direct result of supposing that the light of the full Moon is the trigger for the transformation. The human phase of the werewolf would be out and about at night.

This means that vampires could easily kill the human form of the werewolf at night, while the werewolf could easily defeat the vampires in daytime. Maybe love would win the day and a vampire would go easy on a human werewolf at night. They could fall in love if they kept meeting at night. Then the day wolf could guard the coffin of its beloved vampire.

What the progeny of this love affair on the moon would be like, I leave to my readers to sort out. But I am certain that the progeny would be interesting.

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A Few Thoughts

A good guy with a gun is the answer to a bad guy with a gun. I believe we will be surprised at just how often this is the case, when each school has a good guy with a gun. It might even top out at nearly 100% of the time.

Of course the good guy with a gun gets to write history because, after all the bad guy with a gun will be dead. The hard part for any sharp shooting trickster is that they will have to stop shooting at some point in time. This will usually be before the police control the scene. We might be surprised at how many school protectors with a gun lose it and begin shooting the protectees.

Have you ever noticed that the core of a country band and a rock band are exactly the same? You have the core of each which is usually a singer, a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. But for every ukelele there is a mandolin, for every violin a fiddle, every keyboard there is pedal steel guitar and for every lead guitar there is a banjo.

So looks wise even the extended rock and country band looks the same – just squint your eyes and ignore cowboy hats.

We recently got LRT or light rail transit in Waterloo Region. I’ve only heard it a couple times so far but the LRT makes a light, airy, jingly sound. This, I fear, is its horn. As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the object, the higher pitched sound it makes. The LRT is bigger than a tractor trailer or a bus so I just naturally thought it would make a lower sound than either of those two.

Light and airy just isn’t going to scare that many people into getting out of the way. Lions have a deep roar and elephants have their menacing trumpeting. Can’t we at least have those? Personally I think we’re far enough from the water that we could use a foghorn on the LRT. That would get attention. At least we’d have a chance of avoiding an accident. And considering the LRT has been in 5 accidents in less than a month, I think the foghorn is needed.

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Traits of the Successful DJ

First of all a DJ should have some competence with electronics. It might only be for connecting things with wires but there is that base competence. And mostly a DJ should be competent enough that they don’t manage to electrocute themselves.

Some think that the successful DJ must have impeccable taste in music. This is unfair to the DJ. In most cases they must have middling or average tastes in newer music. They are after all trying to appeal to the mass.

DJs should be able to make smooth transitions between songs. In earlier days all this meant was that the DJ needed a slider between two music players to fade out the old music and fade in the new. Today it also involves having a speed control on the two pieces of music so they can beat match as well. For bonus points the finer DJ can key match as well as beat match.

That last transition is very rarely done because beat matching has a direct correlation with speed just as pitch does. The majority of the time the needs of each will be different making a match with both almost impossible.

When the successful DJ writes a song they don’t become a musician. They instead stay as a DJ. This has nothing to do with the talent and more to do with the gobs of money DJs of today make compared to a musician.

A successful DJ will never take a request from a customer unless the DJ has designs on that customer. As an example, the DJ might have played the requested song just last week. The listener heard that and wants to relive that moment. So they request that song. The DJ will just nod at the customer and never play that song again. That’s because once the public asks for it by name, then it becomes an oldie which the successful DJ will not play again. After all the DJ has five more newer songs to replace that oldie and is dying to try them.

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The Helium Shortage

Everyone knows the two main properties of helium. It is lighter than air and also is capable of making your voice a couple octaves higher when you breathe it in.

People have been playing with helium and these two uses since time immemorial. But lately we’ve been made to feel guilty about that by the world helium shortage. Well the article I linked to says that there never really was a serious helium shortage and that, besides, the newest and possibly largest helium mine is about to start production soon. So no more guilt.

I find it especially informative that they came up with a list of the top helium uses. I find this odd because helium is a noble gas that mostly doesn’t react with anything. The noble gases are called inert gases because of this.

So what possibly could be the uses of helium by industry? Well I am taking my life in my own hands by revealing some of what goes on behind the scenes.

The largest use of helium is for MRI machines – or 20% of the world’s helium. This is of course doctors trying to impress their colleagues with their voice changing skills. You might not believe me but I believe there is a smoking gun. If there is also a large use at those same hospitals for sulphur hexafluoride (the voice lowering gas), then I believe that these doctors are playing with their voices.

At 17% welding is the second most common use of helium. This is of course nothing more than tradespeople getting in on the fun. If you can find me a trade that doesn’t use welding from time to time, I can show you the only honest tradespeople who aren’t playing with helium.

At 10%, scientific use is the third biggest user of helium. I have more insight into this group because I almost became a scientist at a stage in my life. The scientists know all about sulphur hexafluoride, too. In fact they like to put on little plays where the males use helium and the females use sulphur hexafluoride. This makes the plays gender bending.

8% of the helium users were honest and said they made lighter than air balloons out of helium. Yawn.

At 6% and 3%, pressurizing and controlled atmosphere uses are obviously most concerned with the lighter than air properties of helium. It is here where they do experiments like how many helium balloons does it take to lift a woman in a lawn chair. Or more importantly, how many balloons would it really take to move that house in Up. Hint: it’s a lot more than shown in the movie.

At 4% cryogenics is of course lying to us just like they lie to the corpsicles -er- patients.

The last admitted use is for breathing/saturation diving. This is of course scuba divers making their voices comically high.

Now that I have outed all the users of helium I suspect more people will take up helium as a hobby to impress their friends. Soon they can do it guilt free knowing that the helium shortage will be over.

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