October 7th, 2008


Not Quite Spam

>99% of the mail received at the public e-mail addresses for the Mark Protection Committee and the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee is spam. The MPC's address is so swarmed (and spammers are using it as their reply-to as well) that it's almost useless. However, today we got two that were slightly out of the usual range of enhancement products and phish stories.

One appears to have been from an author hawking his self-published masterpiece. Why he was "submitting" it for an SF/F award when he claimed it to be a work of groundbreaking science mystifies me. No, I'm not going to tell you who it was -- why should I give him any publicity? I ignored and deleted it like the rest of the spam.

Another purported to be from the sports division of one of the major US television networks, asking about when works from their network would could be entered for the Hugo Award. I decided to try and reply to that one, explaining that the Hugo is an award for science fiction and fantasy, not sports, and that you can't "submit" works or "enter" them, and I pointed them at the Hugo Awards FAQ.

The next-most common e-mail after spam are queries asking variations of "How do I submit my work for the Hugo Award." It's in the FAQ, but nobody reads the FAQ. I wonder if we should put a link on the front page boldly stating "HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR WORK FOR A HUGO" that takes you to a page that says, "FAIL."
Not Sensible

I Don't Often Discuss Non-Rail Politics Here...

...because I get into these exchanges.

Not every person who supports the McCain/Palin ticket is a religious nutter. (Note that one can be religious/spiritual without being crazy, and not all nuts are religious, so don't anyone start accusing me of saying all of A are B, because I did not do so.) But enough of them are to make me very nervous. However, I am not someone who assumes that anyone who disagrees with me is either a knave or a fool, as tempting as it is to fall into that mindset.

And as I've said before, the results of California's election, and the great whack (10% of the total) of electoral votes that go with it, are pretty much a forgone conclusion, and hardly wasting the electrons on influencing. I'm much more interested in the results of the propositions, particular 1A (I favor it) and 8 (I oppose it). But I'm only interested in discussing them with anyone who is genuinely undecided. True Believers need not apply, because nothing I say will persuade you, and nothing you say will persuade me. Why should either of us waste our respective time?
High Speed Train

Working With What You Have

I am not 100% enthusiastic about Proposition 1A, the California High-Speed Rail Bond. Specifically, I think the route choice over Pacheco Pass is wrong, and will, 50 years from now, be seen as a short-sighted mistake. The main reason the route was chosen was to pander to San Jose-area politicians who couldn't bear the thought of their city not being a stop for every single train. As I've said before, I, like most transit advocates, favored the Altamont Pass routing, through Niles Canyon and Fremont, across the Dumbarton Bridge, with some trains heading north to San Francisco and others south to San Jose. (Alternatively, trains could split south at Fremont, and some would go to Oakland as well; the specifics don't worry me on that one.)

In addition, the Altamont route would have served more populated areas of the Central Valley. Others have said, "Oh, the route has to stay away from populated areas because the purpose is to transport people between LA and San Jose/San Francisco," but I disagree with that. While not every train would stop at every station (another mistake people seem to make), having intermediate stations along the route makes the total route more useful, not just something handy for the Bay Area and LA. (In fact, if it were only useful for those two areas, I'd oppose the project.)

Is the CHSR the best route? Probably not, in my opinion. But the perfect is the enemy of the good, and if we don't get started, we'll never get anywhere. I'm going to vote for 1A anyway, even though I think it could have been better.
Conrunner Kevin

Van Repairs

The Service Engine Soon light was caused by a sticking EGR valve, which my mechanic says appears to have been original with the vehicle. He speculates that it was probably the cause of the intermittent lights on the Denver trip.

Now there was a lot of work to be done. Collapse )

Total for all this: $1356. And that really sounds quite reasonable. He still feels bad about those crooks in Wells, even though he had nothing to do with it. If I'd given him a bit more time to work on it earlier in the summer, before the Denver trip, he would have had time to notice the degraded front-end parts and would have fixed them for far less than what the Wells guys did -- and my expense at Wells would have only been $35 for patching the tire.

And on top of all this, he worked until 6:30 this evening to get all of it done (including the work with his neighbor the smog check shop) rather than telling me, "I can't get it done today; you'll have to rent a car tomorrow to get to your 8 AM dentist appointment." And as it happened, his call telling me, "Everything is ready; come pick it up" came about five minutes after I got off a conference call with a project team with which I'm working in China, so I could trot the 2 km over to his shop and collect it.

The van runs much better now. I do still have to get the tires rotated and will have to come back to him after I come back from Oregon for a wheel alignment as well, but things are looking pretty good right now, except for the credit card bills for the repairs.
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