Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 30 September 2010

$27 million to change NYC signs from ALL-CAPS - will have 11,000 done by end of this fiscal year, rest finished by 2018 -

$27 million to change NYC signs from ALL-CAPS - will have 11,000 done by end of this fiscal year, rest finished by 2018 - 

$27 million to turn PERRY AV into Perry Av

The Capital of the World is going lower-case.
Federal copy editors are demanding the city change its 250,900 street signs -- such as these for Perry Avenue in The Bronx -- from the all-caps style used for more than a century to ones that capitalize only the first letters.
Changing BROADWAY to Broadway will save lives, the Federal Highway Administration contends in its updated Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, citing improved readability.
At $110 per sign, it will also cost the state $27.6 million, city officials said.
"We have already started replacing the signs in The Bronx," city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told The Post. 'We will have 11,000 done by the end of this fiscal year, and the rest finished by 2018."
It appears e.e. cummings was right to eschew capital letters, federal officials explain.
Studies have shown that it is harder to read all-caps signs, and those extra milliseconds spent staring away from the road have been shown to increase the likelihood of accidents, particularly among older drivers, federal documents say.
The new regulations also require a change in font from the standard highway typeface to Clearview, which was specially developed for this purpose.
As a result, even numbered street signs will have to be replaced.
"Safety is this department's top priority," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last year, in support of the new guidelines. "These new and updated standards will help make our nation's roads and bridges safer for drivers, construction workers and pedestrians alike."
The Highway Administration acknowledged that New York and other states "opposed the change, and suggested that the use of all upper-case letters remain an option," noting that "while the mixed-case words might be easier to read, the amount of improvement in legibility did not justify the cost."
To compensate for those concerns, in 2003, the administration allowed for a 15-year
phase-in period ending in 2018.
Although the city did not begin replacing the signs until earlier this year, Sadik-Khan said they will have no trouble meeting the deadline, as some 8,000 signs a year are replaced annually simply due to wear and tear.
The new diminutive signs, which will also feature new reflective sheeting, may also reflect a kinder, gentler New York, she said.
"On the Internet, writing in all caps means you are shouting," she said. "Our new signs can quiet down, as well."

NFLer’s charity hotline phone number points callers to sex line - 800-prefixes mixed up - should begin with 888 - oops -

NFLer’s charity hotline phone number points callers to sex line - 800-prefixes mixed up - should begin with 888 - oops - 

Cincinnati Bengal Chad Ochocinco has never been big on good intentions. And then when he finally tries them out, they end up going all “road to hell” on him.
A few weeks ago, the gleeful NFL villain debuted his own cereal line in Cincinnati – OCHOCINCOs. The breakfast treat was designed in part to push support to the player’s pet charity, called Feed the Children.

On Thursday morning, the cereal was pulled from shelves after an area parent attempted to call the toll-free number on the box – 1-800-HELP-FTC.
When Tara Sand called, she got the following message: “Wanna get off with the sluttiest girls your imagination can dream up?”
Cringingly, someone got their 800-prefixes mixed up. Instead of the charity hotline, the number directs callers to a sex chat line. The correct number begins with 888.
“You do have to admit it is kind of funny. When we dialed it for the second time, I sat there and thought 'are you kidding me?' Nobody has found this yet?” Sand told Cincinnati’s WCPO.
Reached by the Cincinnati Enquirer, Ochocinco said he regretted the mistake.
"I really do apologize," Ochocinco told the Enquirer on Thursday. "Some people got a laugh out of it, others are upset."

Navy's new $2 billion nuclear subs, super-stealth coating falls apart - Cheapened by Chintzy Coating -

Navy's new $2 billion nuclear subs, super-stealth coating falls apart - Cheapened by Chintzy Coating - 

Of all the complicated gadgets in the Pentagon's arsenal, a nuclear submarine is one that probably shouldn't be built on the cheap. Yet according to military analysts, that's precisely what the Navy and two defense contractors did with a series of $2 billion attack subs, and now they're literally dropping chunks of their protective skins into the briny deep.

The problem afflicts the Navy's growing fleet of Virginia-class subs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_class_submarine), high-tech boats longer than a football field and armed with a dozen Tomahawk cruise missles.

The subs are coated with a "special hull treatment," urethane tiles that are supposed to make them super-stealthy, reducing their noise underwater and absorbing sonar impulses. As these photographs show,

Link to photos and additional info:

and as the Pentagon's top weapons inspector has reported, the tiles have been peeling off of the subs while they're at sea, often in large sections. So far, missing tiles have been documented on four of the Navy's seven , the first of which launched in 2003.

The disappearing tiles won't sink the subs, but they could seriously impede their primary mission—to run silent and run deep without being detected. "When pieces of the hull coating fall off, the sub gets noisier because it interrupts the water flow over the hull," Norman Polmar, a defense analyst who literally wrote the book on Navy subs, explained to the Newport News, Virginia, Daily Press. "When you put more noise in the water, you're easier to detect." A blogger at Halibut Hangar, which discusses submarine systems, puts it more bluntly: "The submarine platform may purr like a kitten when delivered and roar like a lion after a subsystem failure."

How could one of the world's most advanced pieces of military machinery be laid low by something so basic? Officers and contractors may have been cutting corners when the subs were built, says Craig Hooper, a San Francisco-based security strategist who's been tracking the Virginia-class woes on his blog Next Navy. "The demand to build this submarine in a fast, cost-effective way led them to skip some steps that should have been in the process," he says. "They've got this beautiful, fantastic vessel, and they just covered it in a Wal-Mart tarp."

In 2004, the Navy estimated that it needed 55 nuclear subs to keep up with the rest of the world's navies (never mind that the costly and top-secret Cold War battle for underseas supremacy was well over). To meet that ambitious goal, it kicked up production and broke with its long-standing practice of using one contractor per boat by splitting the work on its new Virginia-class subs between two shipbuilders, Northrop Grumman's yard in Newport News and General Dynamics' Electric Boat Co. in Groton, Connecticut. It also put a premium on building quickly and inexpensively, pressing for a goal of "two for four in twelve": putting two subs into service every year, for $4 billion a year, every year until 2012.

Members of Congress and Navy brass have touted the Virginia program as a paragon of cost-effectiveness. But according to a Congressional Research Service report (http://www.fas.org/man/crs/RL32418.pdf ) on the program, the time and financial pressure put on the shipbuilders may have had unintended consequences, such as "production inefficiencies and higher costs." And in a recent memo (https://dap.dau.mil/policy/Documents/Policy/State%20of%20Reliability%20-%20DOT%20and%20E%2030%20June%202010.pdf), J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon's director of operational test and evaluation, has criticized the Virginia-class subs for "multiple 'fail to sail' issues." Gilmore, the nation's top weapons inspector, cited the program as an example of widespread shoddy weapons manufacturing, warning that unreliable equipment "can essentially render weapons useless."

The Navy has been slow to say much about the problem. When it has, it's contradicted itself. Sailors who work in the office of the Virginia program initially told media that the hull-splitting issue came to light in 2006; they later claimed that it first popped up in 2007, immediately after a brand-new sub was delivered with its skin peeling. The Navy also asserts that only three subs—the USS Virginia, Texas, and North Carolina—have succumbed to hull decay. But Hooper brought the service's attention to its own public affairs photos, which show damage on the USS Hawaii as well. In response, the Navy said that the peeling tiles were part of normal wear and tear. Hooper says the photos of the Hawaii, which was peeling after a routine 10-day voyage, prove otherwise. "The program office is saying this happens over years. It doesn't."

Asked for comment, Northrop and General Dynamics—two of the military's largest vendors—both referred questions to the Navy.

Military analyst Hooper doubts the Navy can be trusted to face up to the seriousness of the problem. "If the Virginia-class program office cannot muster the cojones to even recognize a problem that is staring 'em in the face, how in the heck is the rest of Big Navy going to muster the will to get the problem solved?" he asks. "This lack of intestinal fortitude will, in a shooting war, get our sailors killed."

Read more - http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/09/navy-submarine-virginia-hull-problem