Freesteel Blog » Short journey via Titan

Short journey via Titan

Monday, February 12th, 2007 at 11:55 am Written by:

Down in Cambridge for about three days. Spent one day offloading a pile of my public domain offset ellipse cutting code on a company I ought to be able to name. We’ll see what comes of it. In the process, I’ve worked out the perfect diagram to explain the whole of the geometry of the torus touching a line. It’ll take a while to draw, as these things do. A picture is worth a thousand words because it takes a thousand lines of code to plot it.

Then I was with Francis in his house with Tom from mySociety as they battled with this goddamn Road tax petition that seems to have been the only internet phenomenon we’ve sparked off so far. Bum. What the hell is it with British people and their cars? You can tap their phones, monitor their bank accounts, CCTV their movements on the streets, but the moment you threaten to surveil their cars — wham!

You get a cascading chain reaction of lying emails as mad car drivers spam everyone they know telling them to sign this e-petition. The scale of the explosion is merely a function of the instability of the isotopes (people) of those concerned and how many neutrons they fire out, not the critical mass of the opinion.

One theory is it’s to do with the fact that most common interaction between the middle classes and the police state is through traffic violations, and it always seems unfair. Speeding is a victimless crime, you see. Everyone considers themselves to be the best driver in the world.

The issue could be sorted out by privatizing the system, and emailing people’s insurance company directly with all evidence of speeding. The traffic police don’t do anything except identify cars to enforce contracts, and make sure everyone is insured. It’s close to a libertarian ideal. If you can get lower car insurance by promising to drive sensibly, then the deal is they get to find out if you are breaking your contract. And if you are 21 and so good at driving you should be allowed to drive at 90 miles per hour, you have the right to look for an insurance company who is willing to cover you for those conditions.

So, they kept the system running pretty happily. I wrote a script to make a lovely coloured bar charts on publicwhip, and then had a headache all of Friday, got driven up to Derbyshire in the evening in the snow. We had to get out and push the car up every hill after Chesterfield on the way to the Orpheus caving hut. Then on Saturday I went down James Hall Over Engine Mine (with its big pitch Leviathan) and up Titan (a 140 metre pitch), followed by a good hour absolutely freezing my nuts off on the surface outside in the dark cold wet-clothes-ness lost in a howling wind on the moor that only British caving can offer. I was in a bad mood, but now this classic caving trip is ticked off and I won’t need to do it ever again.

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