Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mathematics of body surfing

This was the result of a long, and odd, series of searches for a completely unrelated topic. PDF article.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cornelius Cardew's Treatise

One of the most impressive scores ever produced, Cornelius Cardew's Treatise is 193 pages of graphical notation hinting at music to be performed. The instructions for the ensemble are "for any number of musicians with any instruments, may be performed in whole or in part." Sonic Youth and the Ensemble 303 have recently popularized this piece to some extent. An early, 1967, recording by the QUaX Ensemble (highly regarded by Cardew) is now available again as well, see amazon link below.

I won't repeat information easily available online from A Young Person's Guide to Treatise, probably the best single spot for information both on Cardew and Treatise itself. You should check your local library for a copy of Treatise and Treatise (Handbook).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Cash-For-Clunkers (CFC) scam

Okay, I have to admit that it initially sounded like a plausible scheme to me, even if it was obviously intended to help out the car dealers and manufacturers since it was limited to purchasing new cars. But what's also happening is that perfectly reasonable used vehicles are being deleted from the used car inventory. The engines in the traded in cars have to be destroyed and then the vehicles scrapped. Okay, maybe this makes sense if you're picturing a clapped-out Buick with a bad exhaust being destroyed, but that's not all that's happening...

A BMW 735i engine being run to destruction to comply with the requirements.

A Volvo S80 T6 hanging on to life for a while.

So here it is, relatively recent cars are being destroyed with our government's money to give a discount to the purchase of new, slightly more efficient cars and trucks. But what about the environmental and economic costs of the new construction? Move along now, nothing to see here.

A large fraction of the so-called clunkers are actually modern, relatively non-polluting, and well-running vehicles. This isn't getting rid of the nasty polluting old cars, just thinning the good used car market. That's a newer, nicer car than mine (the Volvo) and gets better fuel economy than most any SUV or truck out in suburbia.

If you had a 17MPG pickup, you could use the money to buy a (new) 19MPG SUV.

Absolutely insane. Next up, a bailout for the US insurance and glass industry by handing out rocks to be thrown through windows.