Fast Forward 1 Year

… and it’s been another year.

Time flies – I see that the last post I made was exactly one year ago – the hiatus was caused by two things – last year around this time I had been unemployed for almost six months and it started getting to me. From that point on, things were not going well for a while until mid-summer I found the job and moved. Since then, my life has been a start-up-fueled marathon of working long hours. Looking back on the period of unemployment, I’ve learned a lot about myself especially on how long I can stay upbeat in adverse environment and how my inability to find a job affects my personal life and, through me, people around me.

Some changes that happened during the past year:

– In a tragic accident, we lost our dog Kali last June (while we were in Yellowstone NP). To cope with the loss we got another puppy (we found out that for us it was best to get a new pet immediately, despite many people recommending otherwise) – a german shepherd/border collie/something-very-small mix that could solve the world’s energy problem, if only I find a way to harness all that energy.

– I found a new job at a small software startup – long hours and “hands-on” are back!

– I’ve expanded my set of video cameras by adding GoPro Hero 3 and am starting to consider selling ATC9K – I guess I’m a GoPro convert, as much  as I tried to resist going with “mainstream”

Life goes on, and I’m back.

Faulty Logic of Argument for Banning Motorcycles

Here is an interesting piece of opinion about motorcycles. In short, there are more fatalities among motorcyclists than among car drivers, therefore, we need to ban motorcycles altogether.

On June 13th, Hugh Curran published a post in a column of Sun Sentinel where he stated his opinion that motorcycles should be banned. The main reasoning is that motorcycling causes deaths which places significant costs on the society. The statistics Mr. Curran employs is number of fatalities per number of drivers, which is significantly higher for motorcycles than for regular cars. Additionally, Mr. Curran cites that motorcycles present environmental problem polluting the environment.

Aside from the fact that Mr. Curran’s close friends and relatives had motorcycle accidents, which I am sure had affected his opinion (and I am very sorry to hear about the accidents and wholeheartedly wish they recover), I cannot help but wonder why Mr. Curran’s proposed solution is to ban motorcycles altogether.

  1. Motorcycles do have higher fatality rates, as statistics shows, but laying the blame on motorcycles and/or motorcyclists is like blaming ALL of the car vs tractor trailer accidents on cars and their drivers. Car has lesser weight, sits lower, placing driver and occupants at higher risk. Following the same logic, we should, well, ban the cars, and leave highways to trucks only.
  2. Next, Mr Curran wonders how is it that car models that cause similar rates of fatalities would be pulled off the market while motorcycles are allowed on the roads. A car model that causes similar rates of accidents has a mechanical/design issue that causes the accidents. There is nothing wrong with motorcycles themselves – these machines are generally in fine mechanical form, aside from an occasional “squid”, who cuts wholes in his frame to lighten his crotch rocket, an action that causes hair to stand up on the backs of the rest of motorcycle community.
  3. Then, Mr. Curran cites costs to the society, assuming, but what is interesting, is there are no comparative costs for accidents caused by cars or any other mode of transportation. How about other causes of fatalities, for example, smoking? Or obesity?
  4. Additionally, Mr. Curran cites that driving is a privilege and not a right, a statement I absolutely agree with, but the author here derives a conclusion that it’s time to revoke that right from the motorcyclists. In doing so, Mr. Curran makes a blank, across-the-board underlying assumption that motorcyclists are irresponsible bunch, and therefore should be revoked the right of driving on the roads. Now, I understand that there are no statistics about “squids” vs responsible motorcyclists (maybe we could keep track of how many people riding in flip-flops and tank tops get into accidents vs. fully equipped motorcyclists that invested in gear and followed ATTGAT principle), but there are also a few “squids” that wear full racing gear, just to make themselves look cool.

In the follow-up post dated June 27th, Mr. Curran goes on to “address some of the more-colorful(sic) e-mails before sealing up my argument”, and at this point diverts onto his living situation, his body type, restates the “privilege vs right” phrase again without any meaningful conclusion being drawn from that and (finally) goes on to addressing the “well, then let’s ban the cars” reaction. In the author’s opinion, motorcycling is a hobby, a form of entertainment, and is not suited for roads, which were meant to be for “transportation, commerce, and national defense”. Here, Mr. Curran ignores people who commute to work on motorcycles (I’m not going to get into discussion that in some countries motorcycles are THE primary mean of transportation), or for business. I am riding my motorcycle for part of my daily commute. I am also a part-time real estate agent, and when I do not have to drive around clients, I find it easier (conditions permitting), to ride a motorcycle, which saves me money on gas, maintenance, and, sometimes parking, affecting my bottom line (clear example of commerce), improving my margins and thereby affecting the amount of taxes I pay which goes toward maintenance of those very roads.

And then, there is “so off to the track they go”. Here the author assumes that all motorcycles are made for racing and sport riding. The fallacy of this assumption is self-evident – just few words to google: “Goldwing” and “R-1200GS”

The post (i keep on typing “article”, and i keep correcting, as this post, in my opinion does not stand up to higher expectations of quality) then goes on to warn us, motorcyclists of groups of “widows or grieving mothers a la Mothers Against Drunk Drivers(sic)” who will “challenge your hobby”, and recommends us that we get fatality rates down and become champions of safety. Mr. Curran also suggests that we form a powerful lobby group similar to NRA. I don’t know where to start here. Firstly, Mr. Curran is clearly unaware of Motorcycle Safety Foundation which provides safety courses that I wish not only every motorcyclist, but also car driver took. I do not remember learning in driving course to pay attention of the wheels of the car in the left lane of the oncoming side as I approach intersection. Nor do I remember learning about the wind buffeting around 18-wheelers which affects cars as well as motorcyclists. I do know that i learned about it when i took MSF course. As far as association, once again, Mr. Curran shows that he has not done any research – all he needed to do is google “motorcycle association” which would lead him to AMA’s site.

The follow up post (darn it, typed “article” again!) ends with “don’t thank me for this epiphany, it’s what I do”. I hope he was joking.

Now, back from the self-aggrandizing conclusion of “schmuck with a column” post into the reality:

  1. Motorcyclist community is a large group of people of all walks of life and such group is bound to have its outliers – people who within the community are called “squids” – riders who do not understand the risks involved or take it seriously. Judging the entire community and take steps based on that judgment would be equivalent to saying that all car drivers are under-insured drivers who drive their cars that are about to fall apart in ways that put others at risk
  2. Motorcycle community always advocates safety, and I can speak from my personal experience that I became a better CAR driver since I learned how to ride a motorcycle – one of the things in particular – I am much more aware of my surroundings, as on the motorcycle the cost of not doing so is greater
  3. If one wants to improve the situation with motorcycle accidents, the approach should include (and perhaps, most importantly so) CAR driver education – there are way too many fallen riders whose only fault was bad luck of riding near a car operated by a driver who was not paying attention. Would requirement of taking a safety course prior to getting a license be helpful? Yes, granted that the courses would be taught properly and quality of education maintained. Would requiring helmets help? Here you get into the gray area – I myself not sure what I think about it. I know I’ve made a decision to always wear a helmet when riding, but I also believe risk assessment and decision is up to individuals. Requiring government to ban something or requiring  something will only increase spending and take away freedoms from citizens. One thing to remember is – you can’t safe a fool from himself.

There are many things around us that present danger (I am fairly certain a human being can do a lot of damage with a pen, both figuratively, and literally), and banning all of them is simply illogical. The best thing to do is educate people about them. Otherwise, and I’d like to underline that this is a humorous statement, lest some eager mis-directed soul tries to advocate it, we should just ban… life – it always ends the same and overall, seems to be a terminal disease that is transmitted sexually. 😉


On Asset Managers and Dog-Walkers

An asset manager calls me, “we are in the process of generating Q1 invoice. Could you send us our trade data for the period so we can check the data”
Hm, let’s see if we can find an analogy in an everyday world in order to understand the behavior of this fascinating creature.
Let’s say, you found yourself with a very busy schedule with no time to walk your dog. So you hired a dog-walker, and the agreement was that the dog-walker will walk your dog at least once a day and would charge you X amount of money per walk payable at the end of the month.

Now, it’s the end of the month, and the dog-walker asks you to send him information on how many times he walked the dog, so that he can send you an invoice…

Mind you, the dog-walker is not some discount dog-walker, walking the dog for next to nothing, no no, he charges you the market price. In the meantime the neighbors are complaining about dog walker showing up at some ungodly hours, and you have noticed that “walking” generally involves letting your dog run free on the street, where your precious little canine can be easily hit by a car or stolen.

Read today: “Free spirit” of Silicone Valley impressed Medvedev

Apparently, President Medvedev was impressed by the “free spirit” he found during his visit to California. And now, he wants to “import” it into what Russia hails as their version of Silicone Valley. Best of luck, Mr. Put Medv Putvedev- aside from the choreographed and scripted orgasmic flashes of admiration of  Mr. Putvedev himself, the concept of “free spirit” is generally associated with a result of distillery, not a philosophical and social concept.

Andre Geim, this year’s Nobel Prize laureate in Physics, poured some cold water on the overheated russian PR machine which was flying colors along the lines of “Russian scientists win Nobel Prize”:

“…in an interview with “Ekho Moskvy,” the Sochi-born Geim — who holds a Dutch passport and works at a British university — said he had no intention of becoming Skolkovo’s poster boy.

‘It’s stupid to import big names,” he said. “You need to grow your own.'”

Yes, this year’s Nobel prize laureates were born in Russia, and while one could credit the education system they went through as the main contributing factor, that system doesn’t exist anymore, and no misguided attempts to resurrect it will help.

Unfortunately, “growing your own” would take time, and time-consuming investments are not very popular among politicians.

OnStar Facebook

OnStar announced today that they will/may offer Facebook link via voice-to-text.

I suppose it should offer an alternative to texting while driving, but I seriously doubt that the texting audience will switch.  I wonder what the updates will look like now:

John Doe turned left

John Doe ran the red light

John Doe via OnStar: “Oh shit…”

John Doe likes Concrete Retaining Wall