Name (yoz) wrote,

Sights and sounds of another world

In Fairfax County, along Rt. 29 (named after a famous Confederate general, not to be confused with Rt. 50, named after *two* famous Confederate generals), I passed by some really scary vehicles parked at a fire station. They were just really big boxes on wheels and, on the side, were labeled "Fairfax County Fire Department Mass Casualty Unit", and there were *two* of them. Now it's certainly a populous county, but do catastrophes that warrant _that many_ MCU vehicles ever happen around here? (Apparently there's a plan, just in case. WARNING: It's a monstrous exemplification of death by bureaucracy.)

In urban Cambridge the variance in bird species is low. You'll stand by an appropriate tree (identify it by its aura of bird droppings) and listen to the sparrows drown out the ominous hum of the facilities. In a suburban environment, the reward for an early awakening is the diversity and interaction of bird songs, and on a day like Sunday, the earborne menace, automobile engines, is less likely to disturb one's peace.

On the way to the Airport riding the Silver Line I was struck by the few fundamental frequencies responsible for the noisy environment, like the engine, the brakes, the ventilation, and the squeaky section in the middle that rotates. Wouldn't it be a much more pleasant experience if those frequencies were harmonious? I suppose people would be anguished when parts stopped playing well together, but it would really imbue "engine tuning" with new meaning.

At dinner I listened to government employees -- researchers with PhDs -- lament their fate. For example, the Congressional Budget Office is a nonpartisan organization that employs economists who undertake policy research and advise Congress. This sounds great, but Congressmen aren't likely to ask for research if they know it'll probably come out unfavorable to their position. Further, layers of bureaucrats exist to prevent the research from even getting started, and Congress still doesn't listen when it doesn't like the results. Also, strategic budget cuts cripple researchers in such areas as earth sciences; when the government environmental researchers block an administration pet plan, the administration circumvents them and goes to subcontractors who'll approve it. On the one hand, American children are becoming disinterested with math and science, and the White House makes a carnival of supporting education. On the other hand, the administration disregards and disrespects the scientists who advise them. The link is not as simple as two arms and shoulder blades, but surely these phenomena are not unrelated.

I found I have the "complete" Beethoven piano sonatas (except only volume 1 of 2, so half-complete is more like it). It will soon become Randomized (in the sense that it will live there).
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