Joe Ganley
Writing code since 1979
I have been a professional software engineer for over 10 years. I have written many kinds of software, but my particular strengths are interactive graphics applications, compilers and interpreters, and algorithms.

I also enjoy writing, woodworking, and home improvement. Also this.


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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Those Evil Cars

I just finished reading
The Immortal Class by Travis Hugh Culley. It's a memoir of sorts about Culley's vocation as a bike messenger, but the larger theme is that American urban development has done nothing to encourage the use of bicycles for commuting (quite the opposite, in fact). It's an entertaining read, even if you don't agree (I do) with his anti-car politics. I'd be curious to hear what Culley thinks about the recent discussions suggesting that a "no rules" Bangkok style of urban traffic control is superior to ours.

As I read this, I found myself thinking of a horrible 1981 Lee Majors movie called The Last Chase. The premise hinged on the idea that the rather Big Brotherly government had outlawed cars. Even in 1981, as the fuel crisis was just ending, this idea was totally outrageous -- Those bastards took away our cars! From where I sat, their society looked a whole lot more pleasant than ours does, but somehow that was made out to be a bad thing. The creeps made us recycle, too.

Finally, in related news, bravo to Arlington County. They've taken a number of those ridiculous four-lane divided residential roads and turned the rightmost lane in each direction into a bike lane. Calms traffic and encourages alternative transportation in one step! Arlington is the only suburb I've ever encountered that does a credible job of providing a comprehensive enough bicycle infrastructure to make bike commuting feasible for most anyone who desires it.

Ride your bike somewhere today instead of driving. And next time you encounter a bicyclist on the road, even if they're impeding you, remember that they have the moral high ground--they could have chosen to drive a smoker like you are--and be nice to them.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Like the Everlasting Gobstopper

I think Leatherman has a problem: Their product is just too good. I'm in mild lust with the new Charge XTI. However, its improvements over my current Wave just don't justify replacement. And as well as these things are built (25-year warranty!), I don't expect to have to replace my Wave because it broke anytime soon. This seems a little like the problem the PDA market has, and the cellphone market will soon have: You can sell one to lots of people, but from there the improvements aren't enough to justify an upgrade. I'm not sure how to solve this problem; maybe offer a trade-in program, and then resell the used ones?

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Sprawl III

Today's (final) installment of the series on sprawl describes how even when the government and developers line up behind smart growth initiatives, still they are often killed by NIMBY buttheads. The sad quote that ends the article:
Smart growth is something people want. They just don't want it in their own neighborhood.

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Monday, August 09, 2004


The Washington Post is running an interesting series of articles about sprawl. Yesterday's installment was about how governments foster sprawl by creating more jobs than housing. They do this because business contribute more to the tax base than residences do. Today's is about people moving way out in the country and enduring horrible commutes in order to get the more affordable housing far outside the city. People are certainly welcome to make their own choices, but what really burns me is when people move way the hell out in the country, but then demand that we widen the little two-lane country roads that can no longer support the traffic they're carrying. Personally, I would live in anything that my family could physically fit in, no matter how cramped, before I would spend 2+ hours a day commuting. I mean, wouldn't these people's families rather have their Dad (or Mom) for an extra two hours a day than have a big house? I guess not.

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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Hey - ho - you're old

I was waiting at the doctor near a kid this morning, maybe 16 or 17, and he was singing to himself The Ramones' Blitzkreig Bop ("hey - ho - let's go"). I asked him, "Wow, are people still listening to that?" He replied, "I don't know, I just heard it in a commercial. What is it?" Ouch.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Second Variety movie

In today's Bleat, Lileks describes a movie called Screamers. I immediately recognized the plot as one of my favorite short stories, Philip K. Dick's Second Variety. I didn't know they'd made it into a movie, though, and still I'll probably avoid it, as I don't think I've ever seen a movie made out of something I'd read and liked, that I felt added anything to the book. I wonder if they were faithful to the story's denouement; it's definitely not a Hollywood ending.

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Copyright (c) 1988-2004 by Joseph L. Ganley. All rights reserved except where otherwise noted.