Freesteel Blog » Two months of drudge

Two months of drudge

Monday, March 26th, 2007 at 12:40 pm Written by:

I just saw Becka off on the plane which she promises will be the last flight she will ever take: going 8 weeks away to explore caves in China (while I continue to work on the cave exploration software).

The last flight I took was to China in 2005, and before that in 2002 to New York (travel to and from the West coast by train and bus), and then there were quite a few flights before then. Now I live in the future; instead of the present as society attempts to force us to.

Politicians tell us not to worry about the future; they have it all in hand, and they’ll have it all ready and sorted out for us when we eventually get there. They’re lying. No class of people live more in the present that politicians, with their constant crisis management, limited and gorged attention spans, and no time for thought and reflection. They’re riding a wild horse down unknown forest tracks at an immense speed, and loving it. They don’t know what’s coming up next: a cliff, a river, a tree, a scout camp. They only know how to hold on, and stay on top, come what may.

I had no regrets leaving the airport, catching the bus home, where I’ve got 40 days alone of solid coding ahead of me, subject to an 8 day jaunt to Copenhagen by boat. It should be enough time to change the world.

We’ll see how long this feeling lasts.

It takes just one and a half pints of beer to give me a hang-over that I can remember for a week. I might travel and install myself in friends’ houses, working on my computer while they are out at work. Tonight I’m going to fix this terrible cutter location error pictured above. It’s a very good sign that the const scallop algorithm doesn’t crash when it receives such positional garbage from the lower level function. I think it’s to do with the end-points of edges being 1e-14mm different in z, causing my numeric implementation of the quartic solver to be unstable. At the limit, the differential ceases to be continuous, which breaks the theory somewhat.

I have so many instructions of what to plant where, here and in the allotment, there’s no way I’ll get it right. For the really important things, like watering her plants in her office, Becka has left me a paper on her desk: “Water the plants on [ ] 16 April and [ ] 8 May, and check the boxes when you have done so.”

On Saturday I spent the whole day at a marine radio course. There’s this big GMDSS thing coordinated by UN that binds all the satellites and radio systems and frequencies into one mutually reinforcing safety net for losses of life at sea. All ships above a certain capacity are forced to carry this equipment and be part of the system. It’s optional for smaller craft to have some of it, although if you don’t have anything like a radio, and something goes wrong, no one will know who, or what, or where you are, and your case won’t show up in the bureaucracy, and you’ll remain on your own until you die or float ashore.

This principle applies if you are a ridiculous kayaker around England, or you are an impoverished fisherman in Senegal who can’t afford the license, let alone the equipment, and you get run over by a trawler from the EU which is down there hoovering up all the fish for peanuts so that these tiny inshore boats have to go unreasonably far off shore to find any food, after the government has used the license money to pay off the banks rather than compensate anyone for depletion of stock.

If I was a billionaire I could cause all sorts of mischief by buying several thousand EPIRBs and distributing them to all the fishermen at risk, so that the whole first-world satellite warning system would be at their disposal when their tiny wooden boat leaked and sank 20 miles out at sea. The signal would be detected by satellite, and the ship that trashed them would be committing an offense if the captain didn’t log the distress call in his log-book along with an explanation for why he didn’t pick them up.

The equipment could also be available to the boat people escaping from Haiti. That’ll teach us. If some idiot jet-skier who runs out of petrol out at sea in Wales deserves to be saved, why not a family escaping from death squads in a hell-hole?

At the limit, the international search and rescue system would be completely bunged up with refugees, or would establish the policy that some idiot’s lives are worth more than other’s, which will start looking quite unfair. Fortunately for the politics in question, the equipment is expensive and generally unavailable — unlike mobile phones, which are not incorporated as part of the rescue system, and probably never will be because of this, even though there’s nothing technical that should stop them from having a distress button which the coast guard could pick up. This means people who try to paddle across the Channel usually sink without trace.

So that’s it. We can’t have EPIRBs in mobile phones, because too many people we don’t necessarily want to rescue carry them.

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