transportation


Yeah, no shit.

Yeah, no shit.

The University of Utah is doing groundbreaking research in the field of common sense, finally providing a definitive, scientific answer to the burning question of our times.

Just why is it dangerous to text while driving?

Gee, University of Utah, I guess I thought it was because you’re trying to type an excuse for being late to dinner to your significant other on a keypad half the size of your hand while piloting thousands of pounds of speeding metal down the roadway. But hey, you guys did the research. Why don’t you tell me what the reason really is?

Oh, it’s pretty much that?

Well, shit, I’m sure glad we have you around, University of Utah. What are you going to take on next? Why spiders are scary? Lemme give you a hint – eight hairy legs, tons of eyes, and poisonous fucking fangs they use to eat things that are still alive.

I just saved you a grant. You’re welcome.

Okay, two things. First thing – motorcycles are not safe. Second thing – rocket launchers are not safe. So we should be clear that there is no manner in which attaching rocket launchers to your motorcycle is in any way safe, for yourself or anyone else on sharing the road with you.

What it is, is totally bitchin’. Seriously – this dude is basically a hidden helicopter blade away from being a M.A.S.K action figure.

Ron Paul’s son, Rand (as in Ayn) wants to be the next US senator from Kentucky. Unsurprisingly, Ron Paul supporters are already lining up around the block to shower Rand, who is just scraping by on a doctors salary, with monetary support for his campaign. And rest assured, his supporters hard earned money will go towards funding those notoriously expensive Kentucky media buys and help enact one of the pillars of Rands campaign, “putting the C back in Conservative.”

And lest you think Rand is simply hoping to ride his popular papas coattails, perish the thought. After all, the fact that his first “money bomb” online fundraiser is schedule to coincide with his Dad’s birthday later this month is a total coincidence. As is the fact that he would like a blimp, just like the one his Dad had.

But unlike his Dad, if there’s any cash left over from the blimp, Rand plans to spend it on an armored sports car from which he can battle crime and liberals.

The i Phone – it’s not just for making your friends jealous and checking your email on the bus any more. Researchers at MIT have developed an app for everyones favorite handheld that allows users to control an unmanned drone via their very own palm pilot. It’s quite a feat just one year after their colleagues at UC Berkeley managed to control a small fleet of UAVs from an iPhone.

Between simpler methods of controlling the small wonders and more efficient power sources like solar panels and next gen batteries, UAVs are poised to make a jump from indiscriminate killing machine to phenomenally effective intelligence gathering devices that can operate over long ranges at little risk. Imagine if, rather than maybe probably almost killing a Taliban leader in Pakistan after definitely killing their fairly harmless wives, these things could gather intelligence on where he and his cohorts actually were. Imagine a fight against the Taliban that doesn’t involve us tossing Hellfire missiles around pell mell at every possible target.

Doesn’t that sound like a more effective war? Doesn’t that sound like a war that doesn’t give the people we’re fighting for an endless string of reasons to fear us? Doesn’t that sound like a war we could win?

I know we’re all wondering about what the Next Big Space Thing is going to be, especially since everybody seems to have spontaneously realized that in the forty years since we landed on the moon, the only space missions that haven’t been kind of boring have been the ones that were tragic.

The trendy answer seems to be “We’re going to Mars!” This despite the fact that NASA is about to retire the space shuttle fleet and the closest that we’ve gotten to training people for the mission is isolating a bunch of dudes in a box for a fraction of the time it would take to complete a trip to the planet, and this without the common courtesy to invite Pauly Shore and Steven Baldwin.

Don’t get me wrong – landing on the red planet is a nice idea. It’s noble and ambitious and would be super awesome to see. But seriously, no one gets to even bring up a manned mission to Mars until we can keep the shitter on the International Space Station working for more than a year at a stretch. End of story.

Between headline grabbing tales of plane crashes, South American coup d’ etats and untimely demises of high profile celebrities, it’s understandable that less sexy stories might fall through the cracks. And if there’s anything less sexy to mainstream media than the super fast translation of neurological messages, I’m hard pressed to think of what it would be.

That said, a couple of stories about doing just that managed to sneak in under the radar this week. And while restoring motion to paralyzed individuals might not be the sort of thing that gets CNN’s engine revving, it’s just the sort of thing that makes my heart go all aflutter. I’m a little weird that way, I guess.

Apparently the BSI-TOYOTA Collaboration Center knows just how to get me of a temper. Researchers there have develeoped a wheelchair controlled by the brainwaves of a subject. The wheelchair, which has been in development since 2007, has a 95% accuracy rate in translating brainwaves into simple directional controls like backward, forward, left and right. Even more impressively, it does so in fractions of a second, courtesy of a groundbreaking method of brain-machine interface that separates pertinent brain signals from the ‘white noise’ of EEG readings to analyze brainwave patterns several times faster than conventional methods.

Between this sort of advanced translation and research at the University of Washington that bypasses damaged nerves completely, the prospect of one day restoring limb function to paralyzed individuals has never been more realistic. And as a happy side effect of the technology, bloggers will one day to post updates just by thinking about them. Take that, my future case of carpal tunnel syndrome!

GPS mapping is a great tool for figuring out where things are, from the apartment that the best party is at to the house you’re supposed to demolish. No one is arguing that.

The problem arises when having a new tool like GPS prevents people from doing the simple things they used to do to problem solve. Like asking “Hey, don’t most of the houses we tear down not have furniture in them?”  Instead, apparently without double checking their coordinates or contacting the owner of the house, which was vacant at the time, a Georgia demolition company razed the home to the ground.

Condolences to the Byrd family, and a note to the companies involved – demolition is a big job. Next time, take a break before you start. Get a bite to eat, have a smoke – and oh yeah, make sure you’ve got the right damned address before you start knocking houses down, you bunch of jackasses.

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