Meanwhile, the New Jersey Nets easily swept the Pistons and will now have ELEVEN days off before the Finals start. They've won TEN straight playoff games, including two sweeps. Maybe they can put up a little fight against the Spurs. But I doubt it.
--The new Z1000 (which has a modified 9R engine but a completely different chassis) has just been blacklisted. Motorcycle Consumer News tested the bike and discovered a severe headshake/tankslapper problem. During their high speed testing, on the same road they use for every bike, they hit some rough pavement at 125 mph (bike tops out at 153) and experienced a tank slapper. Now, this bike has ~121 rwHP, a short wheelbase, and pretty radical steering geometry. But the real problem here appears to be the single-spar steel frame (the parts that look aluminum in the picture are just plastic covers!). It's not stiff enough, and flexes back and forth, and the resonance isn't controlled--so a vibration enters the frame and is reflected around, like a spring, then reenters the the stiff, budget front suspension--so it creates a vicious cycle, sort of like THIS. MCN is recommending that Kawasaki issue a full recall and redesign the bike--reinforced frame parts, different front suspension tuning, relaxed fork geometry, a steering damper--before somebody dies because of this. Sounds to me like just another case of a Kawasaki with too much motor and not enough chassis.
--I've been reading a blog written from Australia. The guy rides a green 2002 ZX-9R. His bio: atheist--libertarian on social issues--centre-right on economic issues--don't like commies or anti-globalism idiots--don't like right-wing "traditional values" types either. Refreshing. The site is called Whacking Day--Livewire ramblings on politics, culture, and motorcycles. He also discusses all kinds of other things. I had a blast running through his updates where he has tons of links, random lists and issues, and sweet motorcycle musings. I would like to run that kind of site one of these days. But maybe this sad lil diary will have to suffice for a while longer, as boring, rote, and self-absorbed as it is. Anyway, please do read through his front page for a little while, it's very good stuff I could have (should have) written myself...
9R is a NICE bike though. Could be the perfect compromise bike for me. Is there anything it can't do? A nice silver 2003 with an undertail exhaust would hit the spot. Really good riding position. Compared to the Z1000, the 9R is more comfy, has better wind protection, gets better gas mileage and has a larger tank (so it's more tour-worthy), can fit bags easier, is better for two-up, is more track-worthy, is quicker and faster, and has a better frame, brakes, and instrumentation. It's a little more expensive and the insurance could be higher because of the plastic...
"Some people will tell you that slow is good--and it may be, on some days... but I'm here to tell you that fast is better. I've always believed this in spite of the trouble it's caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles ..."
"And another thing... when I gun the motor, I want the whole world to think it's coming to an end!"
Random blog watch: First, THIS long essay by Bill Whittle is very worth taking the time to read--but if you can't read the whole thing, CTRL-F and type in "moore" to read my favorite section (the last bit of the essay). Excerpt: "...His European audience, generally salivating at the chance to hear an American describe his own country as a bunch of idiotic, murdering, terrified racists, howls with approval." Second, THIS short bit on the Matrix, AND the comments that follow really allowed me to remember that the Matrix is the hack film series that's been pulled over the eyes of movie-goers.
--It's almost too high a number to be real, and I heard at least one news person stumble over the number. Lebron James, #1 NBA draft pick, 18-year old, has signed not a NINE million dollar shoe contract, but a NINETY million dollar shoe contract with Nike. The guy's not even out of high school yet, hasn't even touched a ball in an NBA game, and NINETY million over seven years? Let's factor in what he's going to be paid by the Cavaliers, and all the other endorsement contracts he'll sign. I think he'll be in the twenty-mil per year range. They already have a nickname for him: "King James". I mean, he's good--he outscored the opposing team by himself in every high school game he ever played... but he hasn't DONE anything in the NBA. And I'd say he's starting off on the wrong foot already, being one of the top four highest paid athletes in history without having proven a thing. He'll make more for shoes than Tracy McGrady, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Allen Iverson COMBINED. Insane.
--I was asked to be a founding member of a fraternity new to UNT. It's mostly a service fraternity but with some aspects of a "social" fraternity. They were looking for alcohol-free, conservative males, mostly. I've decided to decline the invitation. I graduate in the Fall, and I'll be busy enough with school and the SIG. I just don't have time to take on another big organization like that. More's the pity.
--At long last, I beat Tetris Attack. I know I beat it a few weeks ago, but that was only on Hard and I used continues. No, this time I beat it on "Very Hard", the secret difficulty, and used passwords instead of continues (i.e., every time I lost--and I lost A LOT--instead of continuing I'd restart the game and enter the current password). Basically, I had to get lucky, had to draw a round where the AI had a chink in its otherwise impossible armor. The dang computer would drop blocks six, seven, even eight pieces deep!! There was absolutely nothing I could do against that, so it was extremely frustrating. And once I beat it, the only difference in the ending was that instead of Yoshi telling me Bowser wasn't totally defeated yet, I got a "The End" message. There wasn't that much sense of accomplishment this time, either, since I got beaten so many times and really just had to get lucky to win any round. Still, this game delivers the feeling of fighting in the Matrix better than Enter the Matrix.
--Annika Sorenstam didn't make the cut. She got several bogeys on her second day. She did okay the first day and had a chance to make the cut, but the bogey disaster killed her chances.
--Can a sour economy lead to lower speed limits? Yes. The budget shortfall in Dallas means that the mayor is asking cops to write more speeding tickets. To assist in this, they're also strategically lowering some speed limits.
--A couple of CNN links: In Algeria, some folks are angry about the earthquake. They threw rocks and debris at the president, who was touring the site. That's called "irrational", boys and girls. Okay, but what if SARS came from outer space? Wouldn't that be strange? If a passing comet dropped SARS on our planet?
--That crappy Enter the Matrix game sold a million copies in eight days worldwide. Maybe that sounds like a lot. But there are fifty-five million PS2s, and over twenty million GCs and Xboxes, and millions of PCs as well. So just a scosh over one percent of owners have bought the game so far. It's not a very longevous game.
--A few days ago, I was listening to KRLD, newsradio 1080, when somebody somewhere turned something on. I haven't been able to get a clean signal since, on any radio. It's like the sound of an engine, a toilet flushing, and a door creaking combined. Vastly, vastly annoying.
--I'll probably be driving to Minnesota for my cousin's wedding in Late July. It's just about one thousand miles. We should be able to make the trip in one day easily. The wedding will be outside, and the dress is "extremely casual". My cousin operates a microbrewery, and I had a feeling he and his fiance weren't going to be into all that formal crap.
--MotoGP has become Honda vs. Ducati, just like in AMA and World Superbike. Didn't take Ducati long to leap over Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Aprilia. I read the Honda RC211V makes 230 rwHP and weighs only 319 pounds!! It's hard to wrap my mind around those figures, considering the stock GSX-R1000 makes 147 rwHP and weighs 437 pounds and is already unbelievably quick. And my last bike made ~67 rwHP and weighed about 540 pounds and could take off with ease.
--The wood column outside my door, which holds up the balcony upstairs, was leaning against my wall the other day. I wedged it back in. I told them about this problem over a year ago, and they didn't do jack. I feel better being down here. Imagine living upstairs and the whole thing collapses, and you can't get home for a few days until they repair it. I just have to watch for people walking up there while I'm underneath it.
--Part of the economic stimulus package passed, including a portion of the tax cuts. I think they made too many compromises, by giving tax cuts to low-income families. Democrats want to create a large class of people who pay NO taxes. I don't think low-income tax filers should have received ANY tax cut. Dividend taxes were lowered, not eliminated, which should have *some* positive effect on the economy. It should encourage some investment and more business venturing. Lord knows this economy needs some business confidence. Unemployment and deflation...
--Because of the "No Child Left Behind" initiative, several states all across the country, including Texas, have LOWERED their standards for passing the standardized tests. For instance, they lowered passing from about seventy percent correct to about fifty-five percent correct on one section of the test in Texas. They can't afford to lose federal funding, but the kids are still dumb and the curriculum still sucks. So they DUMB IT DOWN. An unintended consequence? Yes, but hardly unforeseeable. Standardized testing is idiotic. Teaching to the standardized tests is despicable. This is the worst form of "grading on a curve".
--Here's another idiotic system: a doctor being told what he can and can't do by some uneducated moron three states away who works for an HMO. Do you think this is good for patients?? Good for doctors? This is only good for HMOs. Everyone else gets screwed. Hence the fact that thousands of doctors, including my father, have made the decision to not accept any HMOs. And still people flock to the clinic. He's eliminated the government (Medicare and Medicaid) and HMOs as middlemen. It's almost heart-warming to know in this day and age a person can still go to a real doctor, with an appointment, and just pay cash for REAL medical care by someone who can make his own expert decisions.
--Steve Jobs has forecast the death of the album. He says that people don't care about albums anymore. Of course, he has a real stake in seeing the album die, because of his new Apple Music service. Screw that. I love albums. So many bands communicate in albums--not individual songs, but the whole package. And even if you don't listen to an album beginning to end every time, you have to admit that part of the joy of buying an album is finding those cuts that you like better than whatever caused you to buy the album in the first place. On the other hand, even if Apple did kill the album, there's enough music on my list to last me many years.
--Nintendo's selling the GameCube and GameBoy Player in a package for only $150. Not bad.
--THIS is an actual realtime screenshot from nVidia's demo for the Geforce FX. She's polygons, texture maps, anti-aliased pixels, running at eighty frames per second (well, on a 3Ghz P3 with a Gig of RAM, a high-end motherboard, and the newest 256 MB Geforce FX).
--I've never watched American Idol. But apparently it was big enough news to be a top story on CNN. These shows--American Idol, Bachelor, etc.--seem geared toward adolescents to me. There seems to be a "juvenilazation" going on in this country. I don't know anyone who watches these shows. Who are they? What do they do? If I were into sociology, there'd be a fertile field of fascinating research subjects contained in America's preferred mass market entertainment.
--Once in a while there's actually a clever grain of truth in what The Onion does. I found THIS article to be particularly insightful.