Sunday, March 26, 2006

Where there's smoke there's liars

At last. An unprecedented move by the Scottish Executive will see a ban on smoking in public places. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. Someone in authority actually looking after our interests!
No suprise that smoker's lobby groups are up in arms. They have
"...condemned the Scottish Executive, accusing ministers of misleading the public over the health impact and economic costs of the ban."
Hold on - misleading the public over the health impact? Three words: Pot. Kettle. Black. Surely the "health impact" would be a positive one. The mind boggles.

It seems (and always has seemed) that smokers would rather experience the ravages of cancer and general deterioration of health, and pass the bill on to the public heath system. I take a very dim view of anyone who would vandalise their own body with years of abuse and neglect, in full knowledge that smoking is detrimental and causes horrendous illness, and then cry about the problems they face in later life, expecting the rest of us to be sympathetic and foot the bill for their medical expenses. Go fuck yourselves, smokers. I don't care if you get painful debilitating cancer from smoking. It's your own fault.

Here in NZ, we've had a ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces for a while now, and I believe it is working. Before the ban, I wouldn't even consider going out for a drink. Now, I can head out for an evening and not be subjected to choking, disgusting second-hand smoke. Economic costs? The bars and restaurants that I now visit have gained my custom. So the bar or restaurant has not lost a customer - after all, smokers still want to visit restaurants and bars, and will continue to do so. And now I can too. As for the infringement of rights - What about my rights as a non-smoker? Do smokers have a right to poison me and my friends with filth and ash and put my health at risk? If your employer did that, they could be fined, or imprisoned. I think not.

I mean, on every single packet of cigarettes sold in NZ there is a warning that smoking kills, will harm your baby, and causes lung cancer. You have to be illiterate (possible, but unlikely), ignorant (possible, but unlikely) or stupid (probable) to continue to smoke. Why would anyone be loyal to the tobacco companies, who kill smokers slowly and profit from it, and who have no qualms about doing so?

Good riddance.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Engineer humour

Overheard in the classroom at Polytech:
Q. "What's a radian?"
A. "A slice of Pi."

"This Fourier analysis stuff is complex."

At the moment, we're doing a design project in groups of four or five. The project is to design a "healthometer" which will assist in managing a user's fitness over a period of time. Since it may be available to users in different countries, the subject of measurement and units came up in a group meeting. At one point, we got talking about the metric system, centipedes and millipedes; naturally, the question followed - "How many legs does an Imperial centipede have?"

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Keeping up... just!

I know, I know - far too long without posting. I've been extremely busy though. This is what's happening:

I have returned to Polytech, and am doing a full second-year course of engineering papers. It turns out that I actually passed the first-year management paper last year, but an administrative error totally buggered things up, and the results notification said that I had failed, when in fact I had not. (They had neglected to include the result from one of my assignments in the final result, and since we had to hand in all assignments to pass the paper, I 'failed' because it appeared that I had not completed the coursework.) This had a knock-on effect, as before the error was corrected, it appeared that I wouldn't be able to take enough second-year papers to qualify as a full-time student, hence I wouldn't be eligible for a student loan or allowance. Without a loan, I wouldn't be able to re-enrol either. So, it has taken a while to iron all these wrinkles out.

I started back three weeks ago, and already we've covered a huge amount. I'm doing Engineering Maths (signal analysis - Fourier series and transforms of periodic/ aperiodic signals, modulation), Management (standards and compliance, project managment), Electrical Engineering (three-phase theory - power factor correction, star-delta systems), and Communications Engineering (voodoo, witchcraft, black arts, transmission lines). I'm also doing electronics again this year, but at night school, since I did actually fail that.

On top of this, I've continued to work, although I have cut back my hours drastically.

Life is good. I'm really enjoying being back at Tech. It feels like we're finally getting down to some serious engineering topics. We've had presentations from people in industry too, which have been very useful for gaining an appreciation of what kinds of sectors we might end up in after we're finished.

Had time to have lunch with Psychiatric Geriatric yesterday, who has switched over to the Diploma course. We had a very interesting discussion about globalization and manufacture. I've also been able to catch up with Anyzoom on occasion, who has switched to doing Computer Science, and is doing all manner of interesting things with servers and databases.

My pile of books to read is growing almost daily. I picked up a book by Wilfrid Hodges titled "Logic" last week, which promises to be very interesting. Skimming through, I found a quote that struck a resonance with me: "It is simply impossible to believe, fully and without reservation, two things which you know are inconsistent with each other." Plenty of reading material for the holidays.

I also have plans in the pipeline for a series of T-shirts... I'll have to organise a few bits and pieces first though.

For relaxing times, make it Coffee time...