When you have no piston rings…

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Powerful hybrid.
…you can’t make new cars. One reason I’m glad we got our Prius when we did:

Quake Forces Toyota to Halt Production

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp., called production halts Wednesday at factories in Japan because of quake damage at a major parts supplier.

The temporary closure of auto parts maker Riken Corp.’s plant at Kashiwazaki city, near the epicenter of Monday’s magnitude 6.8 quake, has forced Toyota, Nissan Motor Co. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries to scale back production.

Toyota, Japan’s No. 1 automaker, will stop production lines at a dozen factories centered in central Aichi prefecture Thursday afternoon and all day Friday, said Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco.

The company will assess the situation at Riken, supplier of key transmission and engine parts to Toyota, before deciding whether to resume production on Monday, he said.

Linked Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Me, I always loved how the town of Derby Line, Vermont thrived in a happy world where “our neighbor to the north” is indeed treated as the best, most open, most intertwined of neighbors.

A bunch of people are building an ambitious library of the world’s books online, more or less how you’ve always expected a web-based library would manifest itself…with a catalog we all edit. The number of books that exist online now in full-text is really quite amazing. So, a grafting of Wikipedia concepts onto a really, really big card catalog, linked to full-text or where you can buy, borrow, or just read the book. Hey, now we’re all librarians! Sssh!

I miss comic book covers where the villains would, in dialogue, laboriously explain the entire convoluted story: “I’ve got this game rigged so that every time Flash makes a move, a member of the Justice League disappears from the face of the Earth.” Behold, a site with easily-searchable comic book covers…thousands and thousands of them!

There’s a compelling five part blog posting (start here and move forward in time) from one of the inventors of the Chumby about getting an assembly line for his product set up in China, more or less next door to where gazillions of iPhones and iPods are being expertly, rapidly, and obscenely cheaply cobbled together. Culture! Technology! Food! The terrors of globalism! It’s all here.

There’s now a Mac app that allows you to create your own subliminal messages that are flashed oh-so-momentarily on your screen. Don’t eat pizza! Buy Tab! So you…uh…hypnotize yourself? Dangerous, I suppose, if you can get your hands on someone else’s machine.

What the heck is electronic mail? I like to think this guy’s expression depicts the horror of the very first recipient of spam.

Meanwhile, Wired writes about how Google maps is changing the way we see our world. Boy, I’ll say. Google Maps (and Earth) find their way into all sorts of aspects of Sammy’s and my lives, both professional and not. Once your start overlaying your data on their imagery, it’s hard to stop.

But I’ll stop here.

Wisdom to know the difference.

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

This is one of those weeks where I’ve started to post about eight times, about burbling demi-thoughts ranging from the technological to the political to the societal. Unlike others who can effortlessly sit down and summon the blog muses (a distinctly less powerful and magical set of inspirers than, you know, book or movie muses), I have to kind of wait for sufficient haze of quiet inside and outside of my brain to settle in and dampen, sharpen, soften.

So here we are. Big surprise that it’s ’round midnight and I’ve made sure Sammy is tucked in and sleeping comfortably and I’ve talked long-distance (as we used to say, as if that were a big deal) with my longtime friend on the eve of her first chemo session about many things that seemed to ultimately add up to the power of serenity. I hung up confident that she had done her inevitable homework, reaffirmed the love of family and friends, developed ways to be at spiritual peace with the challenges ahead and now just basically needs to get up tomorrow after a good night’s sleep and do the day.

I think we face the daily prospect of ‘doing the day’, with infinite variations, mostly overlaid with anxiety and fear and the clutter of the insignificant, and it’s much easier when you can get to a self-realized quiet place and tap into the power that comes from that kind of serenity. (Not to be confused, of course, with Serenity, but a big ol’ fictional spaceship brings its own power, solace, and peace-of-mind.)

That’s as crunchy granola as I’ll get. It’s been raining a bit more this month here, and this afternoon the moisture made it smell somehow sweet like an office park built atop an old orange grove in Sunnyvale, California. I looked out at our front yard, a tiny bit less shabby after Sammy’s herculean weed-pulling and my grass cutting. The house is clean, one of the side benefits of having company. The new car sits outside, bravely defying any roving criminal element. The maps are almost done.

This would be something like my serenity of home.