Monday, June 30, 2008

Now That's Social Engineering!

A federal agent strolls into a small Missouri town and helps clean up their meth problem, spearheading a string of arrests. The only problem is that he wasn't really a federal agent, or any kind of law enforcement officer at all. Monica Davey for the New York Times writes:

Those whose homes were searched, though, grumbled about a peculiar change in what they understood, from television mainly, to be the law. They said the agent, a man some had come to know as “Sergeant Bill,” boasted that he did not need search warrants to enter their homes because he worked for the federal government. Sergeant Bill, it turned out, was no federal agent, but Bill A. Jakob, an unemployed former trucking company owner, ...

Comics I Don't Understand

Comics I Don't Understand finally re-did their site so that it's actually readable. One of their latest entries is a particularly fine "Garfield" cartoon, although I'll confess that I wouldn't have got the reference without the explanation.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Unsafe At Many Speeds

Do street signs make us less safe? This article argues that they do, by making excessive demands on drivers' attention and training them to not think. It makes the case for, amongst other things, roundabouts over four-way stops, on the grounds that at a four-way stop, drivers look at signs off to the side of the road instead of looking in front of them; at roundabouts, on the other hand, focus remains on traffic.

I've also seen the argument that roundabouts are better because traffic proceeds through them more slowly. Also, I think they have better failure modes. If you don't notice a stop sign, it's easy to drive through an intersection at or near full speed, whereas it's pretty hard to miss a roundabout entirely. If you don't notice traffic that you're supposed to yield to (or vice versa), you've probably at least reduced speed somewhat.

(Via AgBlog.)