2017-01-06 Fri

Clear Thinking

The UK Daily Mail ran an article Nasa detects TWO space rocks heading towards Earth which will generate a flurry of fear-based articles, I have no doubt.

As is my wont I turned to simple arithmetic.

The earth’s orbit around the sun is 584,000,000 miles, give or take.

The earth’s diameter is 8,000 miles, give or take. If we include all of the earth’s credible atmosphere and take a figure of 10,000 miles as the earth’s diameter we will be on the safe side.

Also the arithmetic is easier!

For a rock of any size to “hit” The Earth, which includes grazing the atmosphere at high speed and fragmenting into deadly bombs, it would have to hit a target 10,000 miles across in a planar region of 584,000,000.

In short, a one in sixty-thousand chance, give or take.

The article tells us that “On 25 February this year, it will approach Earth's orbit, at a distance of nearly 32 million miles”.

Now thirty-two million miles is more than three thousand times the diameter of The Earth, so given that these mathematicians have accurate slide rules and calculators, I figure that there is nothing to worry about.

By the way, that figure of ten thousand miles as the earth’s diameter is a little misleading. Try to imagine what would happen to life on earth if The Moon were to be knocked out of skew.

Of course, the rock would need to be significantly more than a kilometre across to make much of a change there.

The Toronto Transit Commission

A CP24 news item Cameras could help catch drivers who don't stop behind open streetcar doors councillor Mike Layton discusses the business of passengers being killed or wounded (as in “war”) by drivers who drive past the open doors of streetcars.

Mike Layton asks the if it would be possible to install cameras on streetcars to catch drivers who don’t follow the rules. Well, of COURSE it would be possible. You need three bolts with washers and nuts.

My general question is “would this deter drivers?” and the answer is “no”. The threat of penalties for failing to stop at Stop signs, running red lights, knocking down pedestrians, exceeding the speed limit, exceeding the speed limit in a school zone, exceeding the speed limit by more than 50 Km/hour, and so on, that threat does NOT deter drivers from doing these bad things.

Adding an extra layer in the form of a camera will not deter drivers all that much.

And that leaves aside drivers from out of town (do we have tourists in Toronto?) who just are not familiar with centre-lane boarding streetcars and passengers who wander into the middle of the major roadways.

To fix the problem of drivers and streetcars we need to separate drivers from streetcars.

Me I’d re-align the streetcar tracks to run right alongside the kerb. Of course, that would mean drivers couldn’t park on the side of major thoroughfares. Gosh! We could start using major roads as a means to get across the city.

Back to the Toronto Transit Commission:

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said “ ...It is technology that exists. School buses use them (cameras) in the United States, for example, ..."

Then we are told “The TTC is still investigating what the cost would be to install this type of camera on streetcars. It would require some technology that we do not yet have on board the streetcars and we don't know what the costs are. "We would presumably apply this to the new streetcars, we wouldn't spend money to apply it to the old fleet. The first thing is what does the technology look like, how does it work and how do you implement it."

What a blatherskite!

This is typical Toronto Transit Commission-speak for “we are afraid” or “We’ve never done it that way” or “We don’t want to change; just let us achieve or Pensions and Benefits and retirement goals.

These are cameras, fer heaven’s sakes. The come with hard drives and downloadable files. Car speeds by, driver presses button, fifteen seconds of movie is preserved along with GPS location, street name and date/time. We KNOW that Toronto Transit Commission vehicles know where they are. They announce the stops, don’t they?

I can tell you the costs right now. Horrific. The Toronto Transit Commission will see to that because they will want to stall installation. Reckon on 3.1 billion dollars, the proposed cost for any change to the Toronto Transit Commission.

I can’t tell you the cost of your spouse or child not coming home, because they are a red smear on King, Queen, Dundas or College Street. I doubt that it is horrific. I suspect that the word does not exist to describe the news that your loved one will never again share a meal or a bed or a story with you.

Ross presumes that the camera technology will be applied only to the new streetcars. Ho-hum. As if we will have a new fleet any time in the near-future.

The Toronto Transit Commission in short thinks of two classes of passengers – those who foolishly choose to board an old streetcar, and those who are smart enough to wait for a new streetcar, and whose braininess should be reserved.

The Toronto Transit Commission is a money-gobbling enterprise that clings to the past, and refuses to be dragged, even kicking and screaming, into the present.

Forget about the future.