Monday, January 12, 2015

Free Speech

In light of the recent massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine, I am republishing the Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons. Apparently one of the twelve - the one most often shown, with Mohammed's turban really a bomb with a lit fuse - has violated Photobucket's terms of use. The other 11 are still present on my Photobucket account. More than 100 people were murdered in rioting over these cartoons, which makes them newsworthy and in the wake of Charlie Hebdo, politically relevant. Shame on Photobucket for removing the most recognizable of the cartoons (and thanks to Instapundit for keeping a copy online).

Don't like it? Offended? Then write a comment. Or Tweet something. Or write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Make a speech. Or call me an asshole to my face. That is all free speech, and that's how we do it in civilized society.

But fair warning: Wanna get violent? Wanna get medieval? Bring it, because I am not Charlie Hebdo - if you come after me with violence, I turn into the Angel of Death.

Monday, January 05, 2015

An idea, free for the taking

I come up with ideas for inventions all the time.  However, there are only so many hours in a day,  and I simply can't work on all of my inventions.  Sometimes I'll start on something, get sidetracked by five or six other projects, and then ten, fifteen years down the road someone else has turned it into a commercial product.  Good for them.

I came up with an idea for a product over the holidays, and I just don't have the time to work on it (I have four other projects on the go).  This is an idea that will make someone a millionaire, and I don't have the time, so I'm just giving it away.

I live in Canada, and if you live here or in Russia or any other country that experiences really hard winters you have seen this problem: as people drive, their tires fling snow up into the wheel wells.  The tires are warmer than the snow, and the snow melts a little before hitting the wheel wells and re-freezing.  Ice then builds up in the wheel wells, particularly behind each wheel. It will build up there until the ice is touching the wheel, at which point the wheel polishes the ice.  Eventually a car will be carrying hundreds of pounds of ice in the wheel wells.  This can be really dangerous, particularly if it breaks off under its own weight while you're driving down the highway, or if it begins to interfere with the steering.

For most people in winter nations, this minor annoyance is dealt with by kicking each wheel well as one is going around the car scraping ice off the windows, and periodically kicking at the ice buildup.  Or, not bothering and just carrying around hundreds of pounds of ice (full of road salt, which does lovely things to a paint job) and taking the hit to gas mileage.

But there is a better way.  Cars sold in winter nations come equipped with rear window defrost, an electrical circuit that includes wires embedded inside the rear window.  These wires heat up when current passes through them, much like the Ni-Chrome wires in a toaster. A similar system is in place in ICBMs and spacecraft to keep electronics at a good operating temperature. Specifically, Pershing missiles contained a type of fabric that had Ni-Chrome wires embedded in the weave, and the fabric was wrapped around various components.  Then a little current went through the wires and the rest of the fabric acted as a buffer to spread the heat evenly.

This same kind of fabric, or a modern equivalent, can be placed on the top/back of each wheel well in a car, inside the engine compartment and inside the trunk.  The wiring for each of these heaters can be tied in parallel to the wiring for the rear window defrost circuit.  Then when the driver turns on the rear window defrost, the missile heaters on the wheel wells will melt the ice clinging to the surface, causing any accumulated ice to fall off the wheel well, and preventing buildup long before it becomes dangerous.

As I said, I don't have the time to work on this.  If someone else wants to do it and sell it to car companies and aftermarket suppliers, go hard.