Archive for September, 2010

Crop circles, Aliens and Bouldin Neighborhood

crop-circle in the UK

crop-circle in the UK

Despite overwhelming evidence that crop circles are man made, there is still a firm belief in many circles(pun intended) that they are created by, or messages to aliens. Either way, people are fascinated about where they come from.

The corollary to this story is over in Bouldin neighborhood, they know where their circles come from, and are grouping up to try to get rid of them. The them in their case are traffic circles. The City of Austin has and continues to use them as traffic management measures, especially on roads where the cross traffic is much heavier in one direction than the other. It negates the need to stop the cross traffic, say from South 5th to South 1st on West Mary or West Annie, while allowing residents to move north south without stopping. You can read the Cities view of what they are and how they work on the City website.

Bouldin Traffic circle

Bouldin Traffic circle

The residents view is that traffic especially passing east to west, doesn’t really slow down, doesn’t realize they are 4-way yields, and treats the traffic circles aka “roundabouts” as a motorized bobsled slalom course. While this might sound like fun, it isn’t.

According to residents, there are regular accidents, including a seemingly serious one this week at the traffic circle on W. Mary and S. 2nd. between two motor vehicles, the real concern though is pedestrians, cyclists who are even more vulnerable. Since these traffic circles are in use in many places through out Austin, what’s your view/experience?

The thing I find confusing with the Austin traffic circles is that there is no actual right of way. Keyword being “right”. In most of the USA there is an established rule that traffic on the right has priority. Wikipedia has a great illustration of how a traffic circle should work and how the traffic on the roundabout should have priority, irrespective of which is the bigger road. So, if you are driving on W Mary, a big trans-neighborhood road, and as you approach the traffic circle on your left, travelling from north to south is a car slightly ahead of you and will reach the traffic circle just before you, I’m guessing you’d presume you have the right of way, after all you are on the right. Wrong. And there’s the rub.

My main concern, how will the Aliens know where weird starts if they take out the circles?

William Gibson at Arboretum Barnes and Noble

William Gibson made a stop at the Arboretum Barnes & Noble last night to promote his new book, Zero History. He read from Chapter 16 of the book and took some questions from the audience, some of which were enlightening. Not sure if he was just using it as an excuse, but he cut it short because the feedback from the sound system that the store provided was annoying him. I was disappointed because I was enjoying his answers. Someone asked him about a recent short story and why he didn’t do more of them. He answered that there’s no money in them these days and that he feels like he’s got a limited number of ideas and any that turn into short stories take away from the pool that he can use for novels. He also discussed his admiration for Inception. During the signing, the guy in front of me had him sign his electronic copy of Zero History on an iPad. That was a first, but fitting, I suppose, for the author who is credited with coining the term “cyberspace”. You can follow him on twitter @GreatDismal. He’s pretty active when he’s not busy writing. Zero History is the third book in a series. The first two were Pattern Recognition and Spook Country. I’d recommend starting with Pattern Recognition. I’ve really enjoyed the first two and am looking forward to reading the third.

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