Saturday, December 30, 2017

Minor rant about hard-to-rig windsurf sails

First let me say that I am in awe of modern sail designers. Windsurf sails of this century are beautifully-shaped, three-dimensional wings that deliver crisp, controllable power over a wide range of wind and water conditions. And even within this century, sails have continued to improve. For example, I used to have a 2008 model year Aerotech Phantom 6.8 m2 sail, which I recently replaced with a 2015(?) model year Aerotech Phantom 6.8 m2 sail. The latter was equal in power, but significantly more stable, lighter weight, easier to power on/off, and more aerodynamically efficient for sailing at a variety angles to the wind.

However, the new sail has a feature that I find aggravating as heck, which contributed to my breaking the attachment head for my favorite boom while struggling to rig up the sail today. That feature is actually a combination of two aggravating features that work in concert to be extra aggravating. #1 is the tight mast sleeve and stiff-edged sail cloth in the boom-cutout area. #2 is the protruding batten end smack in the middle of the boom cutout. (Exhibit A)

Exhibit A- The offending boom-cutout area of the Aerotech Phantom 6.8

Every time I've rigged the sail it has been a major headache to snap the boom head onto the mast because the stiff, tight sailcloth and inconveniently-placed batten in the boom cutout effectively block it. The effect is worsened by the rubber shim that I must use to adapt the skinny diameter mast to my wide diameter Fiberspar brand boom clamp. The semi-stiff carbon-fiber-plastic-composite Fiberspar boom clamp may have been a particularly bad clamp to use with this awkward sail sleeve. I wasn't surprised that it broke; just bummed because it was the only boom I had that would fit my 6.8 m2 and 8.0 m2 sails, and I don't have any money to replace it now because my wife's and my motor vehicles also keep expensively breaking.

Exhibit B- the busted boom clamp.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Basic Responsibilities of a Civilized Society to its People

I feel compelled to express some thoughts on what kind of social services a wealthy and civilized country ought to provide for its citizens, because I think the scrooges of the world have successfully brainwashed many of us into thinking social services are somehow a disservice, and I want to counteract that nonsense.

For one, I think a civilized country should ensure that anyone working a full-time job (40 hours a week) is compensated with a living wage. That should be enough to cover the following basic human needs:

*A secure dwelling providing shelter from the elements
*Utilities including electricity, HVAC, and potable water
*An adequate supply of healthy food
*Full, no-worries medical/dental coverage
*Transportation appropriate for the area. In a rural area that would include a car
*A phone and/or internet-connected device
*A little extra (maybe 10% more) that can be used for savings or discretionary spending

If the job itself doesn’t cover all that, then tax-funded government programs ought to fill the gaps, but my preference would be to rest most of the responsibility on the employers to simply pay their workers enough. Another way a civilized government should help is to keep costs down by regulating businesses to make sure they don’t greedily overcharge for housing, utilities, medical care, etc.

For two, I think a civilized country should provide all that same basic stuff for kids, the elderly, and sick or disabled people who can’t work. There’s archaeological evidence that even ancient cave peoples took care of their injured and elderly who could no longer hunt or gather, so there’s no excuse for a rich modern society not to do the same.

For three, I think a civilized country has a particularly important responsibility to kids, which includes ensuring that they have a safe environment to live in, and access to quality food, medical care, and education from preschool to at least 12th grade, if not further into college or vocational training. It’s nice when parents take the primary role in providing that stuff, and of course we should encourage them to do so. But if the parents can’t or don’t provide that stuff, for whatever reason, then a civilized country’s government needs to step in and help. Because kids can’t choose their parents. Also the investment in kids pays off by making sure that the next generation is healthy, productive, and not criminal.