Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tipsy beer truck nearly toppled by TV cable

It looks as though this beer truck has had one too many, but it was snagged by a heat-stressed, sagging cable wire in Hillsdale at about 2:15 this afternoon.

The odd accident on the 1500 block of SW Sunset Boulevard diverted traffic and drew a crowd.

The truck’s driver, Shane Romo of Maletis Beverage Company, said that if a fellow trucker hadn’t yelled at him to stop, Romo's entire rig would have toppled over.

“It was nerve-racking,” said Romo. “I can’t believe it didn’t tip over.”

Romo had just pulled onto Sunset after a delivery to Casa Colima restaurant. He makes deliveries to the restaurant at least once a week — uneventfully.

But today’s heat caused the cable wires to droop and snag on the front left corner of his trailer.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Texting, circa 1920, came armored

I've just posted on my other blog, Backspace Typewriters, an entry about an ironclad hulk from "texting" history.

I'll just send you over there for the details and a look see.

Suffice to say that you will find a texter's nightmare. Try driving and texting on this baby and its seven rows of keys.

The good news is that as you intently search for the right key (there are 89 to choose from) and you drift into the on-coming lane, the No. 10A doubles as body armor in a head-on.

Ralph Nader take note: In a head-to-head collision, a Freighliner is no match for the Smith-Premier No. 10A.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Are electronic books mere "Kindling"?

The “Kindle” name for Amazon’s portable electronic reading device is suddenly leading to some frightening associations.

They stem from Amazon’s recent deleting of sold copies of Orwell’s “1984” from customers’ Kindles. Seems the electronic copies were sold by a bookseller who didn’t have the rights to Orwell’s classic.

The episode reveals that “buyers” of Kindle books are really lessees of them, and Amazon can cancel the lease at any time.

In the world of real books, of course, what you buy is what you own — and can sell. (Local note: that's why our Hillsdale used book sale was such a success yesterday.)

It turns out that a Kindle’s content is, as they say, “tethered” to Amazon. It might be more accurate to say that Amazon customers themselves are tethered to the retailer because the Seattle-based on-line merchandiser has a direct line to data about customers’ buying (and reading) habits. To say nothing of their credit card numbers.

That’s scary enough. But here is a technology that is frighteningly Orwellian, hence the irony that Orwell’s “1984” was the deleted book. How Big Brother would have loved to have the power Amazon does.

If this technology supplants real books and falls into the wrong hands, books and the free expression of ideas in “print,” are doomed. They can be expunged at the push of a button in some governmental, or corporate, “Ministry of Truth.”

The name “Kindle” in this context brings to mind another classic on the subject of thought control: Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” in which mass book burnings forced “renegade” scholars and historians to memorize books in order to preserve them.

Of course computers also “memorize” books — until they don’t.

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