07-07-09 - The World Is Horrible

I took the Montlake ramp this morning, which I never do, cuz I had to get gas. It's one of the ramps that gets all jammed up with traffic and there's a metered light. As I'm sitting there slowly losing what small supply of patience I had available for the day, I watch single driver cars go by in the carpool lane. First a mercedes went buy, then a BMW, then an Audi RS4. I was think "rich douchebags think they're entitled" but then a Chevy and a Pontiac went by and my stereotype was ruined.

Some days I feel like I've done all the "work" I can stand in the first 30 minutes of commuting (write tech/algorithm code is not really "work" , though dealing with MSDev or cdep project settings is "work", as is fighting the damn broken IEEE web site to give me the papers I paid for). Yes, yes, I know I'm a big whiner, there are poor people who take ten buses to commute for three hours to their shitty job at McDonalds where some pimply teenage assistant manager treats them like garbage all day long, the customers are rude to them, and they breathe oil fumes under flourescent lights.

Anyway, I pull out of the ramp and step on the gas to rapidly get up to speed and merge smoothly, as I always do. After a few seconds I notice there's a cop right behind me. He follows me closely over the bridge and then puts his lights on to pull me over. Hmm.. I'm not really exactly sure what he's going to say. He comes up to the car and says "I saw you accelerate out of that ramp and rapidly change lanes". My jaw just drops. Uh, yeah, that's what you're fucking supposed to do dumbass. I say "okay". Wow. I'm in shock, I feel like when the guy asked me not to park in front of his house on the completely empty street, my mind is blown. He winds up writing me a ticket for going 65 (I have no idea how fast I was going, there was lots of traffic, I was just going the same speed as the guy in front of me). After he writes the ticket he tells me to be safe pulling back into traffic, so I say "so you want me to get on slowly and jam everyone up?" ; he gives me a dirty look and says "just be safe". (I try hard not to sass cops anymore; I got my car towed once because I told off a cop that pulled me over for expired registration; it's safer to sass them after they've written the ticket because then they'd have to do a whole new set of paperwork to write a new one). (I was particularly aggravated because I'd just been watching all the fuckers cheat the carpool lane).

Ugh. I certainly don't deny that I deserve speeding tickets, I speed my balls off. The funny thing is I never seem to get them when I'm actually speeding. I got one for going 60 mph on the freeway in Houston. I got a ticket in Seattle ten years ago for "unnecessary tire noise" when I went around a corner - this in a fucking Prelude (I told the cop at the time, dude I couldn't spin my tires if I wanted to). The only time I actually got a ticket when I was speeding was out in the country in Texas near Sugarland in a bunch of empty roads for a subdivision that hadn't been built yet. (it was off the 99; I guess it was probably "Long Meadow Farms" or "Waterside Estates" or something, though none of that existed at the time). Houston suburb construction is incredibly corrupt; the big builders all have connections in government, and the roads and power and sewer lines are laid in advance and paid for by the city, effectively a huge subsididy for these suburb builders who keep pushing ever farther out into undeveloped land. I'd found a patch of roads that had been laid out into fields that had only months ago been that dense nasty Texas woods, and was speeding my balls off around the empty roads; I got a ticket for doing 85 in a 45 there which normally would be a license-suspending kind of thing but I guess the cop had a little bit of mercy based on the fact that there was not another human in sight for miles around.

In my youth this ticket would have made me outraged, angry at society, and talking of all kinds of drastic reactions. Now it just makes me sad. I'm tired.

I watched the movie "Stroszek" a little while ago. It's pretty terrible, but it had some great moments. It's a Werner Herzog movie, so it's a total mess. Herzog movies are sort of like the film equivalent of experimental free jazz. He just sort of has a vague idea and tosses some people in front of a camera and sees what happens. Yes, they are as terrible as that sounds, but there are moments of brilliance, and even when they are failures at least they're interesting and full of humanity. The best scenes in Stroszek IMO are when the banker comes to foreclose on the house and Bruno rants the whole time about how this bastard is crushing his life while doing it with a smile. All Herzog movies are about the struggle of individuals to claw a way through this world with a bit of self-determination, dignity, and individuality.

It looks like my cable is fixed; I'm still not sure exactly what the problem was. The technician who came out replaced a bunch of lines, but I had had zero problems for a year and then suddenly had problems all the time so I don't really believe that bad lines were the problem. I assume that something changed upstream which made the signal to my building worse, which then pushed me over a threshold where my bad lines started causing problems. I've heard this can happen when the cable company adds a bunch of subscribes and splits an upstream wire, it lowers signal quality for everyone.

Anyway, I wanted to write some notes cuz the technician said some things I didn't know. One was to not use a signal booster. Since my SNR was shitty before I was running a Motorola high-bandwidth signal booster, which fixed my problem with squiggly lines and noise on my TV. Apparently the cable modem doesn't like it, because the modem only works in a certain power band, and I was actually giving it too much power. The other thing was that one of my interior lines was an old wire. Apparently they've changed the wires, the newer wires can carry a wider signal spectrum. I guess that's part of how they keep upping the bandwidth they can send on the wires - higher frequencies.


Sly said...

I'm afraid I know what your Comcast problem was:

TimothyFarrar said...

Wow a ticket for "unnecessary tire noise", I'm rather surprised I haven't gotten one of those out here in the Chicago or Madison area. If you don't get a chirp on acceleration, you aren't doing it right! And you are leading to traffic jams and overall slowdown which costs the country huge amounts of in opportunity cost in lost productivity of people sitting in traffic.

In Chicago speed limits are a joke, since everyone goes 15-20+ over anyway, the law just becomes a way for an officer to pull over just about anyone at any time, and make some money for the state. First ticket just makes you more aware when speeding, second ticket makes you really aware when speeding. Which likely makes careful drivers even worse drivers because they are spending time looking for cops instead of keeping eyes on the road.

Perhaps they should stop with the BS, and for one not suspend license after X number of points or tickets. Then people who want to get somewhere fast just end up paying a random "tax" if they get caught. Better yet for the gov, factor out the speeding tickets, and just have a special license plate which enables speeding, but costs more (talk about a money maker there). Sure I'd like the hassle to go away, but those who know how to drive are the minority and thus we end up eating shit for the mob.

Aaron said...

As usual, the reason is an excuse. Excessive tire noise? / lane changing? Excuses to pull you over and run your name to see if you're a dirty hippie.

Time to get a yuppie car man! Oh and I better go get my car washed soon or I'll get pulled over for something silly too.

billyzelsnack said...

No way Timothy on the speeding tax. The better solution is to have the only penalty being community service. That does four things..

1. It doesn't give the cops a financial incentive.
2. It's not a regressive tax.
3. It's an actual disincentive. I'd rather pay $100 than spend 5 minutes doing shit work for the city.

The most important..
4. It's too easy to just be lazy and pay the damn fine instead of going to court.

cbloom said...

"The better solution is to have the only penalty being community service."

That's not a bad idea.

The real problem though is that the speed limits are almost all too low, and not context-dependent.

If I'm on a freeway marked 55 and there's zero traffic on it (like at 2 AM or something), it's totally reasonable for me to go 80 or more.

If I'm in a residential neighborhood in the rain with lots of people around and do 40 in a 35 I should get a ticket. (especially if I turn without signalling while talking on a cell phone).

The fact that 90% of the population is just constantly breaking the speed limit law leaves it up to the cop's discretion to use it as an excuse to pull over people they don't like the look of (which is why there's such a huge bias of black people getting more traffic stops).

Aaron said...

Yeah but that's why it's set up that way. They want that discretion. It's the whole point. If they wanted to limit speed, they'd just put cameras everywhere. To wit, the now-defunct 'copswritingcops.com': http://web.archive.org/web/20070211162642/www.copswritingcops.com/dotm/

castano said...

My first impression when coming from Europe and seeing the speed limits was: WTF?

But after driving for a while and seeing the shitty state of the roads it made sense to me: loose pavement, random bumps and holes, flat curves, poor road signs, washed out marks, neverending roadworks, level crossings on highways, and merges on the left lane! Not to mention that driver licenses are given away to 16-year-old kids without any sense of responsibility, to people who barely know how to drive, idiots who think that the turn signals give them the right of way, or assholes who drive SUVs in a completely irresponsible way.

Anyway, I'm very glad I didn't have to drive a car in the last 5 months.

old rants