Random thoughts from recent trip to India

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I recently returned from a 2 week trip to India. While I was very impressed with the cultural sites (temples, forts, mosques, etc.), there are several things which the Indian government needs to address immediately:

  1. The violence towards women. I had already left India when the infamous New Delhi gang rape occurred, so I did not find out about it until after I had returned to the U.S. This needs to take priority over anything else.
  2. It is so sad that among the many people hawking souvenirs everywhere tourists go, there are many young children, some as young as about 3, and young mothers carrying babies/toddlers in their arms. While some regions of India seem to have made education a priority, this needs to be a national priority.
  3. Before I came to India, I had thought that making the country more clean should be a top priority, but eliminating the litter and the general unsanitariness in some areas of the country should be a lower priority than the first two.

 

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Right after my dog ate my homework, my cat…

A man was recently arrested in Florida for having over 1,000 child pornographic pictures on his computer.  He claimed that it wasn’t his fault – whenever he left his computer, the cat would jump onto the keyboard, and the child porn would mysteriously end up on his computer…

While I will give him some points for originality, he is a complete idiot if he thinks anybody will believe that somehow the cat knows how to get to porn sites and then download them. He would have been better off blaming it on the CIA or the FBI – that would be a much more believable story.

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Wow, talk about shameless

During the April 3 shootings in Binghamton, New York, supervisors at the Department of Social Services did not permit their employees to leave the building (for obvious safety reasons, even though the shootings were in a different building) One of the employees, an idiot named James Kauchis, filed a formal grievance claiming that he should be paid for the lunch hour because he was not allowed to leave the building.

With thirteen dead (not including the shooter, who is not a victim) and four wounded, the first thing this asshole thinks of is being paid for being deprived of his lunch hour.  Maybe this government worker should get a new job at one of the bailed-out financial institution, where someone with his sense of priorities would fit in well.

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What a gold digger

A 36-year old Swedish countess is divorcing her husband. Their prenuptial agreement states that she would receive $43 million if they divorced. She is claiming that is not enough, because at her current spending rate of $53,800 per week, that money would not last her for the rest of her life.

How do you spend $53,800 per week? Well,  this article states:

Her weekly expenses also include $700 for limousine service, $4,500 for clothes, $1,000 for hair and skin treatments, $1,500 for restaurants and entertainment, and $8,000 for travel.

Amazing. One would think that a former investment banker would be smarter than that. Or maybe she used to work for AIG or Bank of America???

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The historical significance of the horse’s ass

I don’t know if the following is true, but it’s interesting!

A useless fact (with a twist) about technology: The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used? Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

Why did ‘they’ use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? Roman war chariots first made the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels and wagons. Since the chariots were made for, or by Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Thus, we have the answer to the original question. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder which horse’s ass came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war-horses.

And now, the twist to the story…

There’s an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses’ behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. Thiokol makes the SRBs at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses behinds.

So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined by the width of a horse’s ass! Think about it!

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Pet peeve – companies giving preference to new customers

It’s really annoying when I see magazines that I subscribe to offer free gifts to new subscribers and/or a lower subscription rate than existing subscribers get. The companies are so concerned with getting new customers, they forget about the existing ones. To be fair, this problem is not unique to the magazine industry.

I don’t remember where I saw this, but at one time I read that it costs something like a hundred times as much to get a new customer as it does to prevent an existing customer from leaving. That does make sense, since companies have to spend millions of dollars advertising in order to get new customers. In order to keep existing customers, they probably don’t have to do much else other than offer a quality product and decent service.

If a magazine is going to offer freebies and low rates to new customers, I will probably just subscribe for the minimum amount of time, let the subscription expire, and wait for them to bribe me to come back…

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First work day after Daylight Savings Time ended

Today was my first day of work since Daylight Savings Time ended. The “worst” time of year is now beginning – it is dark when I go to work, and it is dark when I get back from work. To make things worse, it was gloomy in the morning, so it was still half dark when I got off the bus. When I got back from work, it was raining and windy, not to mention dark…

I think the Federal government should just abolish DST. Studies have shown that it does not save any energy. If we didn’t have DST, I would already be going to work in the dark and coming back in the dark, but at least I would have been able to gradually transition into the darkness.

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