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Slashback: Beetle, Reading, Streams 57

Slashback tonight brings you more on how to find good books, how to have your car snipped off the Golden Gate Bridge, and what's up in the world of Linux audio and video, through an interview with GStreamer developers. Enjoy!

Can you read me? Over. With both feet in the stream of continuing evolution and convergence of distributed voting, online metaknowledge and probably a few other things, Johnathan Nightingale has created a site called Canonical Tomes, lately featured on Kuro5hin.

It's a really cool way to approach the "top picks" in a given subject, and fun to browse especially in the fields you're not very familiar with: the trick is a community voting system -- visit it and pick your favorites.

It also raises the question, though, of how to avoid an early lead from remaining permanent; how do new but excellent books gain a foothold? And what about situations where the popular books aren't the best ones? Kudos to Johnathan for putting this together, now it's your turn to point out the best books in your field to others.

Gee, Wally, I can colorize you from this "Linux" machine! starlady writes " has an interview up with the developers of GStreamer. GStreamer, as mentioned here before, is a full featured multimedia framework with functionality for everything from mp3 playback to audio and video editing."

An excerpt, quoting developer Wim Taymans: "First of all, GStreamer is a real framework. This means that it can be used for a generic media player as well as serve as the core of large multimedia render farms. The GStreamer core is built in such a way that it is media agnostic, it doesn't know or care what media data it is handling. The interpretation of the media types is entirely handled by the plug-ins."

And though everyone is excited about video, things like this will make Linux a lot more capable as an audio capturing and manipulation platform, too.

The real question is, did you get in trouble? Regarding the dangling beetle which caused the city fathers of San Francisco some small consternation, Ms Golden Gate 2001 writes: "In case you're still fretting, or wondering, here are a few first-hand pieces of info about the stunt (I hope you guys weren't really believing what you read in the papers, now were you? ;-)

  • the Bug was hung by cable and nylon webbing from a two-point suspension system (check the math -- that's not so easy: you try figuring out how to sling cable from *both* sides of the bridge to hang something nicely centred!)
  • the Bug was never in sight of any commmuter after the initial 1-minute deployment (*under* the bridge!)
  • the first to be informed were the traffic helicopters
  • the Ironworkers who cut it down (in minutes) thought the job was well done ("They could probably get a job as ironworkers")
  • the Bug was stripped of nasties, and as the Ironworkers said, it's a new habitat (just like when they sink a ship to create an artificial reef, only smaller, MUCH smaller)
Not the Mother-of-all-stunts, but worthy of some kudos - maybe for the most enthusiastic bunch of hard-working students who want the world to know they love what they do (and where the heck Vancouver is!). Even the website is there to promote engineering (seriously) to students.

All that technology, and it's still nigh impossible to get the facts heard over the Brownian noise :-P At least this is a good forum for venting without swords!

P.S. It's National Engineering Week in Canada! (Look out below!)"
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Slashback: Beetle

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  • It looks like the Cannonical Tomes site has been slashdotted back to the dark ages.

    I created an account and got one book added to an empty category, but now it's choking on my second try, and the home page won't even come up anymore.

    Barbarians, every one of us! Let's go rent a movie!

  • It WAS blocking some boats from going under, so that might have been a good reason not to make it a tourist attraction...

    However as a Canadian living in SF, I thought it was great.
  • You are now in violation of the DMCA. You will be contacted shortly by my lawyers.

    Karma Sink
  • Some "canonical tomes" are canonical within narrow disciplines, while others have much broader appeal - some are specialised textbooks while others are popularisations. I suspect these become known in different ways, but word of mouth must surely be important in both. One problem with is that without any way to judge the background or competence of the people providing information about the books it will be hard to evaluate it - I think Gravitation is a great volume, but it's not going to be a useful intro to general relativity for the non-mathematical reader.

    Another approach is posting to Usenet - when I was after a book on meteorology, I posted to sci.geo.meteorology [sci.geo.meteorology] (explaining my background and what I was looking for) and three different people from different universities recommended Wallace and Hobbs' Atmospheric Science [], which turned out to be just what I was after.


  • I'm guessing that 1 and 3 would be the easiest to do, but access to hardware and capture cards is going to be a bit harder. For one thing, you'd need to get all the info and DDKs for every known capture card that you'd like to cover. Cards don't come cheap, and the manufacturers might cringe at the thought of their thousand-dollar capture card being run on an open-source operating system. Plus, you'd have to get around the many hurdles of X11 that would really kill framerate and potentially cause dropped frames. Perhaps an entirely rendering engine would be necessary (or even required).

    I'm not saying that it would be impossible, but it'd require a lot of collaboration with the hardware makers as well as some tweaking on the software end.

  • by kruhftwerk ( 164246 ) on Monday March 05, 2001 @06:22PM (#382676) Homepage
    but they were really nervous :-)

    I've met some of the people involved in the beetle project and had the whole hanging procedure described to me. Let's just say, it wasn't easy and some people involved must have had balls made of steel.

    As a former UBC engineer, I really couldn't wipe the smile off my face for days, not just because of the stunt but of the publicity that it caused and how it will help to increase spirit in the engineering faculty. Since i've graduated i've heard and seen less and less people come out to events sponsored by the Engineering Student Society. Something like this will (hopefully) show people that there really is more to school than just going to class and doing your homework...

    I was very proud to be able to meet some of hte people involved and personally congradulate them for a job well done. Of course, I have no idea what their names are or what they look like anymore :-)

  • The UBC engineers do something similar every year. I tried to find an online pic of the Beetle they hung from the Vancouver Lion's Gate Bridge about 20 years ago, but didn't see any...

    Other than the stealth, logistics, and "balls of steel" this wasn't that hard - they have had many years to perfect the engineering part of the stunt on other bridges.

    Hopefully it motivates some young kids to go into Engineering...

  • If you're interested in building multimedia apps on Linux (or FreeBSD or Windows), you might want to check out Open Mash []. It started as a grad student research project at Berkeley and is now run by a consortium (kind of like the old X Consortium). The short description (from the web site) is:

    • Mash is a comprehensive toolkit for multimedia communication and collaboration over the Internet using IP multicast. Mash supports live media broadcasting, N-way conferencing, and session capture and replay.
    • Mash is an outgrowth of the Internet MBone tools developed to support streaming audio and video applications. Mash includes versions of MBone tools like sdr, vic, and vat.
    See the web site [] for more info.
  • I bet I have an idea as to "how" - use an air cannon to shoot a weighted ball of string at a near vertical (say, 15-30 degrees) angle from one side of the bridge. The length of this ball of string should be about triple (maybe more, given the thickness of the bridge - but not so long as to be longer than the bridge is high, above the waterline) the width of the bridge. The air cannon would shoot this wad of string out, and it would unravel in an arc. When the weight reached the end of travel, hopefully most of its forward momentum would be converted into an angular momentum, and the weight would start to fall, eventually swinging up and wrapping "around" the bridge, to be "caught" by individuals on the other side.

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • If you or anyone else can give me hints about how to move a 400 lb cannon without big machines quickly and quietly, give me a shout... ;-) The engineers at my university (also in Canada) have, on numerous occasions, moved the ancient cannon on campus to the front of the engineering building. The feat was achieved in 1998. One of the people involved (who is now a TA) is going to show us the video of how they did it sooner or later. There were other cannon-related pranks in past years. But if you can think of good ways to move a cannon, I'm listening. ERTW!

    O'Toole's Commentary on Murphy's Law:

  • Just keep your shear ignorance away from our suspension cables.
  • What, they didn't engineer a "PULL HERE TO DROP CAR" tab?
  • For no good reason. In fact, I'm surprised they chose to snip the cables instead of pull it up, or instead of lowering it onto a barge.

    Actually, I know a guy who works for the Coast Guard in the Bay. Apparently the fact that the bug was hanging from the bridge was preventing shipping traffic from entering and leaving the Bay. Time is money, and someone decided that it would take to long to remove the thing nicely. It's not as if they had all the time in the world to deal with it.

    And fair enough, in my view. It's like putting a bug on the runway at SFO. Auto traffic isn't the only, or even the most important, traffic.

    Claim your namespace.

  • > I would like to like site, so I'm going to send the developer some suggestions.

    <halfserious>Or we could start our own.</halfserious>

  • Windage on a long string is pretty high. I hope you have enough momentum in the fall to go the distance and come up the other side. Remember free falling people (skydiving) only reach terminal velocities of only 140 - 200 MPH due to windage. I think the fall and return up the other side distance is too great to overcome the windage. The bridge is too wide requiring too far of a swing. That's part of being an engineer is comming up with solutions that will work in the real world. To get an idea of the windage on a string, take your average gas powered string trimmer. If the string is too long, it overloads the motor even when it is not cutting anything but air. That's with less than 2 feet of string exposed. The engineers that pulled the stunt used a solution that worked!
  • Personally I thought they should have left it there, given it's apparent well-designed linkage. It'd make an interesting monument to human ingenuity as well as a slightly subversive statement regarding people being too uptight to see the humor in a VW bridge-dingleberry ("dingleberry- n. southern US slang, the little bits of fecal matter that stick to the fur/feathers of an animal's nether regions post-evacuation"). And hey, the beetle is also a nod to the counter-culture mecca SF was in the 60s.

    News for geeks in Austin: []
  • Well, one very important truth to consider is that within about two hours of the beetle being hung a fog bank rolled in that totally obscured the beetle from any viewing position except helicoptors flying dangerously close to the bridge. I was among those climbing to the top of Russian hill to see the drop. Suffice to say that not only could we not see through the cloud, but that *no one* saw the drop but the workers doing the cutting.
  • but it won't hurt them either.

    ... unless it landed on them...



  • No - you don't shoot a weight, and have the string on a reel - instead you shoot a ball of string (I would use a lightweight monofilament, maybe mylar monofilament - with the weight in the middle), with one end tied to the bridge. I would think, properly wound (beforehand, in a shop somewhere) in a ball, that you could get it down to the size of a baseball, probably less.

    The hope is to shoot the string and weight out until it is taut, then let gravity (coupled with centrifugal force to keep the string taut) swing it down and around.

    I really don't know how wide the bridge is, nor how high above the water it is - but I doubt it is very wide - doesn't it only have 2 or 3 lanes of traffic in each direction? - so maybe only 50 or 60 feet wide or so? Make it about 20 feet thick, and you are looking at perhaps 100-130 feet of monofilament, tops.

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • ERTW == Engineers Rule The World
  • I said i was an engineer, not an english major. I have ways i've been spelling words for years and unless there's something that tells me otherwise (like yourself) i've been spelling those words that way since i was in grade 1. I rarely use spell check as well...

    Sorry if my lack of english skills make my comment any less believable.

  • by smartin ( 942 ) on Monday March 05, 2001 @03:32PM (#382692)
    I don't really think that this is true. Most of the Linux media apps i've used in the last while seem to be standardized on (for video at least) the avifile stuff which is a clever hack that allows some (most, all, i don't know) windows codecs in the form of dlls to be run natively under linux. While i'm sure that we we would all like to see pure linux versions of these codecs, we have to take what we can get, and if people are clever enough to hijack the windows ones, so be it. It's the result that matters. Let people write for media player if they want to, if we can take and use the result under Linux, the problem is solved.
  • Since when is dingleberry a buzzword?

    News for geeks in Austin: []
  • by 3prong ( 241218 ) on Monday March 05, 2001 @03:33PM (#382694)

    Couple of comments about the VW beetle hanging from the GG bridge:

    the Bug was never in sight of any commmuter after the initial 1-minute deployment (*under* the bridge!)
    This isn't quite true. On the northbound approach to the bridge, coming from SF, there is a stretch of road (Marina Blvd I believe) that has a full sideview of the bridge, from maybe a mile away. By the peak of commute time, news of the event was all over the radio, so people were slowing down along this stretch of road to have a look.
    So yes, you couldn't see the car from the bridge itself, but to imply there was no impact on the commute is very wrong.

    the Bug was stripped of nasties, and as the Ironworkers said, it's a new habitat (just like when they sink a ship to create an artificial reef, only smaller, MUCH smaller)
    Like Neal Stephenson says in Zodiac, ANYTHING you drop in the ocean will become a habitat, because that's where the fish live! Just because you dropped garbage down there and the fish start swimming around it, that doesn't make it a good, environmental thing to do. That iron and steel will be down there, rusting, for decades. For no good reason. In fact, I'm surprised they chose to snip the cables instead of pull it up, or instead of lowering it onto a barge.

    Sometimes nothing is a real cool hand.-- Cool Hand Luke
  • Dear "no car" - We have done you a dis-service and we are truly sorry. You are right - destruction of a bug, even for "higher" ideals is just wrong. To make this up to you, we would like to donate the GGP Bug to you. It's yours, no strings attached - well maybe a cable :) oh, do you scuba-dive? GGP
  • just the shell of the car would still be better than what I have now....( car)

  • It also raises the question, though, of how to avoid an early lead from remaining permanent; how do new but excellent books gain a foothold? And what about situations where the popular books aren't the best ones? Kudos to Jonathan for putting this together, now it's your turn to point out the best books in your field to others.

    It seems to me that an awful lot of this is dependant on things like attitude of the community. For example, take a look at the content [] of freenet. As described, the typical member could be "a crypto-anarchist Perl hacker with a taste for the classics of literature, political screeds, 1980s pop music, Adobe software, and lots of porn"

    Somehow I think that the books recommended by that cultural cross section would be different than that of the Reader's Digest [] (which has a circulation [] approaching 100 million)

  • by MSBob ( 307239 ) on Monday March 05, 2001 @03:37PM (#382698)
    The success of WMP is mainly thanks to its strong foundation in the form of DirectShow. DirectShow allows the programmer to dynamically create graphs that are capable of playing a variety of formats extensively reusing parts of the graph that can be reused (such as the source filters and renderers). The architecture is also flexible and extendible. This is exactly what the GStreamer team is trying to accomplish. In other words GStreamer is very much different from all other players you mentioned in your comment in that GStreamer is more of a filter graph than just another media player. It's precisely what Linux media needs.
  • I'd save the hat for kernel releases
  • Rusting iron and steel is not the best thing to have in your drinking water, but it's a perfectly normal component of ocean water.

    As you know, sea water is about 3% "salt". That does not only mean regular table salt, NaCl, but pretty much any element or compound that exists on the planet and is soluble in water. I haven't checked the iron content of the ocean, but I'd be surprised if it's not in the megazillions of tonnes.

    insufferable preaching section:

    Iron is a perfectly natural element in nature, and to put it back in nature is not in general a bad thing.

    More controversially, the same can be said of, among many other things, uranium, which is quite common in ocean water.

    end of preaching. phew!

    PS. Could the bug actually be seen from Marina Blvd? It was reported to be a very foggy day.
  • Since my karma's in the negatives, I thought I'd just whine on all AnonCow FP's on near-topic topics.

    All in one media, or as I like to call it, gouloshware, which is disrespectful to goulosh everywhere, is M$-style thinking, and worse, can be a very bad thing in the occassionally laggy x-windows system environment. Have you tried playing "Tuxedo T. Penguin: A Quest for Herring"?

    Let's look at M$ for just a moment. Eons ago, technologically speaking, even Windows(tm) had to call on lots of little programmes that did one task at a time. This saved on processor space. This is still not such a bad idea.

    Today, you only use three applications to run a programme: Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and M$ Office. Depending on what modules you load in IE, it's not so bad; of course, it's also the least original programme from M$. The other two can take as long as Star Office trying to load in a C environment, and stability during that time isn't garunteed by the M$ Bill of Gates.

    My theory is: In 2000 XP, all applications will be open by M$ new Internet Media Office, which will require 2Ghz processor, 4.4 terrabytes of disk space and 9GB RAM. Clippit will nolonger work alone, and many fun creatures will hop and play on the screen. You will also receive the following easter eggs: five flight simulators, Age of Empires: A Time of Conquest, MacOs X with DVD, Atari's top 100, Commodore's top 100, video Bill Gates being Janet Reno's Dominatrix, a complete list of everything M$ has ever stolen*, "War and Peace", M$ Encarta: The World of Bill, "Blue Screen of Life: M$ Stress Re-Organization" plus free stress game, a copy of M$ Bob, a complete collection of every paper by "The Onion" and finally, "Bill's Top 100 In & Out Burger fast-food franchises of North America"

    Now, it's one thing if you have a programme for the sheer purpose of working all the media into one comprehensive pro-gartum something or other, but in the WSOGMM, it's just not worth it for standard use.

    No, I did not miss the article; I've just been dying to whine about this for awhile, and gstream was about as close as the subject may come in the next month.

    As usual, I'm now going to steal something just to make my article longer:
    Microsoft Windows 2000 is based on technology produced by Xerox, Apple, IBM, Bell Labs, Valence Software, ZoomIt Co.,Red Hat, Symantec, Spyglass, Sun Microsystems, Santa Cruz Operation, Corel, VisiCorp, Cooper Software, LinkAge Software, Caldera, General Magic, Dynamic Systems, Citrix, AT&T, the GNU Project, Sendmail Inc., Novell, Borland/Inprise, Digital Research, NeXT, Informix, Netscape, and the following universities: Yale, Dartmout, MIT, Berkeley and Stanford. BlueScreen technology is an original Microsoft innovation created by the BlueScreen Development Team, headed by Steve Ballmer and Ed Muth. This paragraph continues to comply with the Department of Injustice's Vigilante Kangaroo Court Consent Decree (TM).

    Thank you for marking me as off-topic and dropping my Karma into a double-digit negative number. Now, I must throw bejana beans at my guests.
  • > One problem with is that without any way to judge the background or competence of the people providing information about the books it will be hard to evaluate it

    I'm glad the site exists, but I'm a bit skeptical that it's going to work. Think what's going to happen when all the Slashdot Trolls see it and run over to screw it up just for the fun of it.

    And there are probably problems anyway. I did not see any mechanism for cross-listing books between multiple categories, nor for correcting erroneous entries. Also, the field for price was somewhat surprising, assuming they plan to be around for more than a couple of years. Meanwhile, there are no fields for indicating the year the book came out, nor what editions exist.

    To be useful, it will probably need a full-time board of editors to maintain the site. They'll have the troll crap to shovel out, they'll have haphazard category and subcategory definitions, they'll have books posted in the wrong categories, and they'll have books will erroneous entries, grammar and spelling errors in the titles and/or descriptions, and political asides that shouldn't be there.

    Also, I rather suspect that most of the submissions will be from authors or publishers ("Buy this book!") or from individuals with a political axe to grind. The voting system naively limits you to three votes, as if the site's creators were unaware how easy it is to get disposible voting accounts, so I expect to see ridiculous voting outcomes within a few days.

    Finally, I notice that when you have entered a book's info you are politely prompted to "submit query". It looks like the code may need some cleanup.

    All in all, I suspect that it's another noble effort doomed to failure due to naivety and all the problems associated with internet voting.

    Also, I wonder if it isn't just a site that hopes to make a big splash in the news and then get bought out by the next p0rtal-wannabe within a few months, so that the creators don't really need to worry about all the very obvious problems with such a site.

  • ...but it's understandable. It's a common fallacy to equate historical compilation with stagnation, and progress with dynamic propositionalism However, one is forced to ask where this ever-shifting platform of thought leads.

    Certainly, staticism alone is not a valid mode of epistemological advancement, but can any method which wholly abandons static principles and knowledge lead beyond self-referential factualism? Although this has been heavily debated, general consensus holds that it is in fact not possible. While the implications of this will be fleshed out and argued over for decades, the immediate applications are both obvious and non-trivial.

    Commonly held traditions in literature are critical for progression of social normalizing factors. Although it could certainly be argued that an individual's canon must necessarily supersede one founded on principles of democratic advancement, it is worth noting that not a solitary instance of corresponding phenomena has been observed. Admittedly, non-observation does not entail non-existence, but broader sociological and literary analysis continues this account accross multiple social strata.

    In conclusion, while I believe your model is fundamentally flawed, you are correct in your assessment of the shortcomings of common-archetypal aesthetic representationalism.
  • There's iron and steel in the new model Beetles? Well, strike me blind!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yeah, but remember: There's a whole slew of architectures that Linux runs on. I'd personally like to be able to use one ap on all flavors of Linux, beit x86, PPC, Sparc, Alpha, Mips...what have you. This cute hack won't work so sweetly for these ports because it would have to be emulated, or otherwise wrappered (anyone actually done this yet?), and as we all know, this would slow the operation down so much that it would be unberable. Please don't think about intel compatible chips alone, Linux has a great deal to offer on other platforms as well.
  • >Iron is a perfectly natural element in nature, and to put it back in nature is not in general a bad thing.

    >More controversially, the same can be said of, among many other things, uranium, which is quite common in ocean water.

    Uranium, in its natural state, is rather harmless (not completely though). This is not true of all elements though.

    A few elements that are quite lethal in their natural states:

    • Mercury
    • Lead
    • Radon
    • Arsenic
    • Many elements heavier than lead are highly radioactive in their natural states, but are also rare.
  • Never heard that one either and I live in the southern US. Don't let any of the Linux companies here that 'dingleberry' is a new buzzword or we'll be seeing this next:
    New XML based dynamic content provider streams live open source dingleberry source code to broadband users at movie quality.

  • > but they were really nervous

    Not in trouble??? Wanker Bush can't even drive in the wrong lane without getting thrown in the pokey. How can these guys get away with hanging under a bridge?

  • I know several easy ways. The first to come to mind is use the wind. Lower a lightweight string on the upwind side of the bridge and let it blow under. On the downwind side, use a weighted hook to snag it and pull it up the other side. That is the easiest since it's almost always windy there. There is two other easy ways I can think of at the moment and there are probably many more. Use your immagination! It's what engineers get paid to do. Solve problems.
  • Nothing wrong with rusting iron in your drinking water. Sometimes the water from a borehole is naturally full of iron - so much so that it comes out of the tap brown. Doesn't do you any harm AFAIK.
  • Actually Iron in large enough amounts will kill you. (and i'm not talking about an anvil being dropped on your head either).

    Earlier this year i saw an item in a newspaper that said of all the poison deaths in the united states. (for children) iron overdose was the most common. The method of overdose was from swallowing their parents vitamen tablets. It takes a couple days for a child to die from iron overdose, i have heard it isn't very pretty, the body just starts shutting down. There is no way to remove it from the system once its there.

    Anyway I wouldn't go drinking water that is brown/red from iron content. Adults can overdose too, just takes more of it.

  • Hold out for a car with an engine and stuff -- what they hung was a shell.

    And hey, what's this "even a bug"? That car is one of the finest vehicles ever made (and the only car with running boards I've ever been able to afford).

  • In'n'Out Burger isn't franchised...
  • The authorities blocked the navigation under because the car could fall anytime. So, even if there was enough room, the ships could not go under it.
  • Well, I was able to look at the site as a visitor today. I don't "get it" in the fact that there is no search mechanism for anything on the site. The creator admits that books will probably end up in two or more categories. And only the first comment for a title makes it into the system? That WOULD explain some of the lame-o descriptions- did this person even read the book or just fast-forward through the movie? So, no search mechanism and a "first-post!" mentality. I would like to like this site, so I'm going to send the developer some suggestions.
  • Don't be rude!

    Most of these bug-realted comments have had a "I wonder how they did it?" subtext to them. Universities don't teach engineers how to be criminals, they teach them how to use principles of physics to aid and improve our lives.

    We need more curious, well-educated youth to make the next big advances in our world, and new engineers will help to make that happen.

    Sorry my comments got your shorts in a knot.

  • All your bridge are belong to us? []
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Xv is the answer to video display on X11. Don't post if you don't know what you're talking about. In case you can't tell, if you use the words "guessing" "might" and "perhaps" you are probably contributing to the noise, not the signal.
  • by bitchx ( 322767 ) on Monday March 05, 2001 @03:12PM (#382719)
    How many times do we have to go through the same thing before someone decides that the *framework* is done and the real work can begin? I love gstreamer a great deal, but it's sad that Linux dosen't have what windows does in this area. I mean, we have xine, xmms, oms and gstreamer, but we don't have waht "video for windows" had what, like 3 years ago? 1. Extensibility through platform independent codecs. 2. Access to hardware accelerators and capture cards. 3. Network transparancy for remote displaying. I don't know how we can get there, but if someone put the amount of work into one project that was being put into 5 or 6, we'd be there already! Not that I'm saing gstreamer is bad - it looks to be the best of the lot. But a kind of sorry lot. Let's wipe the floor of that "Windows Media Player!"
  • <I>Reader's Digest (which has a circulation approaching 100 million)</I>

    Is circulation the same as readership? Reader's Digest says it "reaches almost 100 million readers" Doesn't that assume one circulated copy can reach more than one reader?
  • a quick search on Google for info on the bridge turned up this It gives the width at 90 feet and it is 220 feet above mean high tide. It is considerably more than 50 or so feet wide.
  • That's pretty wide - didn't think it would be that wide. I still think that if it isn't too "thick", it could still be done with a thin enough monofilament. Heck, even if it was 50 feet thick, there would still be enough clearance between the end of the filament and the water as it swings around. Also remember that as it wraps around the bridge, the "attachment" point changes, in effect speeding up the swing.

    Heh - all of this is sounding to complicated to be practical, though - there is probably a simpler solution.

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • To fight windage though, I would think your string would have to be something like 1/8 inch aircraft cable and the weight would have to be a 16 Lb bowling ball. It would have to gain a lot of speed at the bottom of the swing. Doubling the speed increases the wind loss by a square. Losses add up fast.
  • by PD ( 9577 ) <> on Monday March 05, 2001 @03:41PM (#382724) Homepage Journal
    Run a magnet through some dirt sometime, and you'll find out quickly that there's much iron oxide just lying around.

    I understand what you're saying, but seriously the impact of a rusty beetle is neutral. It probably doesn't help the fish, but it won't hurt them either.

  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Monday March 05, 2001 @03:43PM (#382725) Homepage
    Given what's falling out of the bilges of the ships that sail into SF harbour, I think the UBC Beetle should be the smallest going concern. Seen some of the dumbass stunts on Nash Bridges? That's gotta be bad for the bay.

    What really tweaked the noses of Americans was this: UBC owned joO! All your bridge are belong to us!

    Hey, s'alright. We Canucks are a humble bunch. We know how hard it is to admit that we r0oL you. Shucks.

  • by bitchx ( 322767 ) on Monday March 05, 2001 @03:22PM (#382726)
    I wonder if cannonical tomes get half way there by just the first mover advantage.

    I mean, much of what people feel *must* be read is actually just stuff that everyone else has - what linguists call creating common language rather than actually expanding knowledge. As such, to rely on common knowlege to create a list of common knowledge might create stagnancy rather than a dynamic work.

    Not that I'm saying having a set of liturature people are expected to read is a bad thing - rather, that cannonizing that liturature via plebian masses might stifle the ability for others to truly create.

    As such, though I hate sounding so incredibly elitist, creating the sight for "everyman" to decide the cannonical works is less meaningful than just letting the college professors do it - at least they are going out there to find the new stuff, and include works that challenge traditional thought - even if they personally find those works "wrong."

    What's a class on government without facsim, for instance? But, who'se going to be the gutsy one to add "My Struggle" to the list of political works? Certainly not me!

    At the same time, however, this does open the "cannonical" list up to works that would not otherwise see play - things like "stomp" as a cannonical play, as opposed to "le mis," or something. It's certainly a project that I'll watch, if not participate in!


  • That iron and steel will be down there, rusting, for decades.

    Why is this such a bad thing? Last I checked, iron is a pure element, and steel is mostly iron. When steel and iron rust, they create iron oxide. There's nothing particularly bad about iron oxide. It already exists in plenty of places in nature. Ever seen redish-brown rocks? Many of them (probably not all, but many) are that color because of naturally occurring iron oxide, aka Rust. If the fish wanna live in a rusty car, so be it. let them. It's hardly an environmental crime.

The absent ones are always at fault.