May 1st, 2006


The left lane is for passing.

I did find my charger, by the way. It was in my messenger bag. Huzzah.

Okay, so my rant for the day (somewhat mitigated by the fact that I paused to watch a WoW video and patch Auto Assault, then download Guild Wars, before writing it). Traffic.

Honestly, traffic around here isn't as bad as people may lead you to believe. It's fun to bitch about traffic - it seems to be the one common, uniting thread among the disparate populations of Northern Virginia-DC-Southern Maryland. And yes, you do hit a lot of crackheaded stuff out there on the roads - because as compared to a lot of areas, you're covering a lot of road, spending a lot of time, and dealing with a lot of people. It doesn't matter if you're in a WoW raid or in a traffic jam, there are crackheads everywhere - they're just a bit more dangerous in traffic.

Okay, point number one: the left lane is for passing.

I'll use the toll road for a number of my examples, as I drive most of my commute down it every day. There are four lanes on the toll road. When all works well - like at one point on my drive home today - the person in the far right lane is going the slowest, thus being passed by the person in the lane next to him, who is being passed by the person in the second-from-the-left lane, etc.

However, once you've passed - pull over to the side, unless you're passing more people. If you hang out in the left lane, eventually somebody is going to come flying up behind you and then have to slow down until you either remember to pull over (unlikely) or they have to pass you on the right.

Number two: just because you're speeding doesn't mean you need to be in the left lane. I had a perfect example of this. The speed limit on the toll road all the way over to 66 is 55 MPH. Up the left lane waddles an old sedan, barely doing 60, in the two lane area past 123. On the toll road, THAT IS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO GET YOURSELF KILLED. People routinely go over 80 miles per hour on the road. I'm not saying that's good, but if you just STAY OUT OF THERE WAY, you might not cause an accident. If traffic is moving faster than you, get to the right.

Three: the shoulder is not a lane. Sometimes it is - but if the big sign says it isn't, it isn't, don't fucking drive up. I hate that more than anything, and it's especially prevalant on 66 where the shoulder is a lane during rush hour. It's clearly marked that at 10:30 AM on a Sunday, the shoulder is NOT a lane, so DO NOT GET INTO IT. The same on the toll road to 66; the far right lane is for buses only, not for Mr. SUV to pass everyone and pull in.

I have a lot more pet peeves about driving, but I'll save them for later, when I'm not so sleepy. Guess I'm still catching up on the weekend. And I got a ticket for failure to put a property tax sticker on my windshield this morning; I'll take care of it, but I'd been avoiding it doing most recently because I may need a new windshield. Sigh.
  • Current Music
    "Big Blue Dress"


By the way, let me know what you think of the new style. I'm experimenting.

I'm also trying to get posts separate by theme.

I think I'm going to start drinking a lot more tea. It just makes me feel better than coke, even diet. I have some green tea, which was nice last night (and I'll probably get another cup of here soon). I just had some Earl Gray, which I was unimpressed with, and the Irish Breakfast Tea was rough. While I do miss my old fashioned super sweet tea, I need some suggestions as to good kinds to try, both caffeinated and decaf.
  • Current Mood
    thirsty thirsty

Runo Knows...Singularity Sky

Remember my complaint about Iron Sunrise's lack of detail in how large the sphere of human colonization is? Well, that's what you get when you read books out of order. Singularity Sky reveals that it's about 3000 light years in radius.

Singularity Sky is the first in the "Eschaton" books by Charles Stross. It introduces us to Martin Hannigan, a ship engineer on consultancy to an insular backwoods stellar empire known as the New Republic. It seems one of the New Republic worlds is under attack. It's not a naval attack, but rather an infovore-type society known as the Festival, dropping nanotech replicators and telephones onto a feudal society. Along the way he meets up with UN covert operative Rachel Mansour as they attempt to salvage what they can of the attack, learn about the Festival, and keep the New Republic from bringing down the wrath of the Eschaton on them thanks to the navy's attempt to use some time travel trickery.

I'll keep it short on this one; basically, I find it entertaining, and good for setting up some of the base concepts of the characters of Rachel and Martin, not to mention the universe. But on the whole, I like Iron Sunrise a lot more as it shows more of the universe in general, and not just the backwater part of it. The idea of what happens to a feudal society hit by the Singularity is interesting, but I almost feel like there could've been a lot more done with it than just the radical cyborg soviets. There's almost two books wanting to come out in here - one about Rachel and Martin and the thoroughly uninteresting New Republic (who never really feel like scary bad guys, or even particularly interesting ones at that) and Burya Rubenstein, the titular head of propoganda for the wannabe rebellion on Robard's World (the one invaded) and his dealings with everyone from the Critics to a mysterious boy leading a life of adventure.

Still, I'd suggest it, if only to read once so that Iron Sunrise makes more sense. On the other hand, I found that Iron Sunrise made plenty of sense without it, so take that as you may.

Runo Knows...Jennifer Government

I found this book in a roundabout way. Someone introduced me to a website called "NationStates" where you started your own country, formed alliances, and the type of country you had was determined by your reactions to various crises and opportunities that came up. I played it for a while, but didn't get much into it. I noticed, though, that it was part of (basically) an advertising campaign for the book "Jennifer Government" and interested in the concept of the book, I pre-ordered it from Amazon - which makes it one of my rare hardbacks.

Basic concept: a remarkably libertarian society, business-wise, as "capitalizm" (sigh) runs unchecked, and tax is abolished, in the US and affiliated territories (which includes the rest of North America, Australia, etc.). People take their last names from their jobs, so you have people like Hack Nike, John Nike, Jennifer Government, Billy NRA, and Buy Mitsui. After Hack Nike - a real loser - is convinced to sign a contract, he finds that it's to kill 10 kids after they buy Nike shoes, so as to give the shoes "street cred" and run up the demand for them. That leads, through a convoluted sequence of events, to all the characters running around the world (well, the Melbourne-LA-London part of it) fighting for (or against) Government, the corporations, and incentive programs.

The writing is, well, easy. It's easy to read and fairly simple. I found it more than a bit pretentious (especially any time the word "capitalizm" was used) and, to be honest, found most of the concepts to be internally inconsistent, though it's quite clear that it's intended more of a satirical world than a sci-fi "this may happen" kind of world. The confusion factors of having many people named similarly (Bill vs. Billy NRA, John & John Nike) is pointed out in the book in a couple of the plot points, and I found it hard to find much sympathy for any of the characters. Government has abolished tax and therefore even calling 911 requires a credit card (and getting a police investigation into murder takes selling your house) while the Government, at the same time, appears to be annexing territory like crazy (given the sheer amount of "United States Federated Economic Blocs" (and their descriptions in the book). The book seems like it doesn't want to go all the way of advocating socalism or even going as far as Project Mayhem in "Fight Club" but still kind of wavers in its point.

I have a hard time saying it's a bad book but it's not a good one. It provides some quick entertainment (it's a fast read) but it's not really particularly thought provoking, and ruins a good ending by tacking on a lackluster epilogue that feels like it neuters the climax a bit.