Thu, 29 Jun 2006

An Anarchy

An anarchy is not the absence of government. It is the presence of a system which keeps the peace sufficiently well as to not allow any one entity to monopolize violence over entire regions (aka form a government).

Posted [03:02] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]
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Wed, 28 Jun 2006

Ride starting Wed Jun 28 19:24:24 2006

21.49 km 70515.30 feet 13.36 mi 3587.00 seconds 59.78 minutes 1.00 hours 13.40 mi/hr

Went for a slightly longer ride than usual. Included a big leg down US11 and then back on Pickle Street. US11 is nice because of the fat shoulders, and Pickle Street is nice because it's very quiet. Kept up a nice pace today. GPS said it was 13.9mph moving average.

Posted [22:07] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]
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Sun, 25 Jun 2006

Ride starting Sat Jun 24 19:10:08 2006

27.38 km 89814.58 feet 17.01 mi 5273.00 seconds 87.88 minutes 1.46 hours 11.61 mi/hr

I thought to head up to Parishville today, but thought better because of the waning daylight. Did a little bit of exploring down Curtis Rd, south of Rt. 11B. Curtis Rd. is interesting because according to the 1900's topo map, it used to go through. But given that the people at the end of the road probably feel somewhat proprietary about it, I don't think they'd be too happy to have me try to ride down it. On the historic map, you can see another road to the west off Curtis Rd., which used to go farther than the current topo map indicates. On the aerial photo, you can see that the road still goes where the old map says it went.

On the way back, I continued west along the old route of US Route 11, later renumbered 11B and relocated slightly to the north to eliminate River Hill. It was a steep hill down to the river and back up again. I had spoken to the fellow who owned the house at the bottom of the hill, and he says that they used to offer an impromptu towing service in slippery weather. People would come down the hill, and not be able to make it back up on the other side. Good reason to build a bridge on the level of the highway rather than the river.

Posted [02:04] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]
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Sat, 24 Jun 2006

Worry About Real Problems

We are in no danger of running out of oil.

In free markets, there is a role played by certain people called "speculator". These people have more money than they need to live on, and have intimate knowledge of certain fields, such as the orange crop, or apple crop, or timber, .... or oil. Their function in the market is to even out price fluctuations. They buy when the price is low and sell when the price is high. Or the other way around, in which case they run out of money and go do something else. Thus, anybody who continues to speculate in a market can be presumed to be able to identify when prices are low and hold until prices are high.

In the process of buying while prices are low and selling when prices are high, they serve the raise the low prices (by increasing demand) and lower the high prices (by increasing supply). Speculation makes people better off even if they grumble when low prices get raised.

Speculators aren't (yet) speculating higher oil prices. Since speculators go out of business when they speculate badly, we have to presume that long-term speculators have expertise that exceeds our own. Were the situation otherwise, then we should become speculators ourselves.

What the USA needs right now is less central control over markets, and less war on {drugs, terrorism}. Since these are wars on jobs and tactics respectively, these wars can never be won, but can only be fought in perpetuity. We need to have the will to declare victory, stop wasting treasure and blood, and go home.

Worry about real problems.

Posted [13:09] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Fri, 23 Jun 2006

Ride starting Fri Jun 23 19:22:11 2006

31.66 km 103866.98 feet 19.67 mi 7030.00 seconds 117.17 minutes 1.95 hours 10.07 mi/hr

Went for a late evening ride on the Rutland Trail. Wanted to go all the way to Winthrop, but decided it was just too dark. Good call! I got back at 9:20. Two days after the longest day of the year, that's still pretty late to be expecting daylight. I had the taillight blinking to make sure I was seen.

All of my good work in the spring has held true. The puddles that I drained have stayed drained. Unfortunately, the worst puddle has become so deep that it's below the level of the drainage ditch. It will simply have to be filled up. Fortunately, the Town of Stockholm is planning to do that.

Saw something very disturbing. Somebody (don't remember who) is doing some logging in the state forest along the trail. In some manner that I don't comprehend, they got permission to use the trail to access the landing. And whether they had permission or not, they cut down trees along the railbed, AND scraped the top of the railbed off to the sides, to widen it. That would be fine if they restored the drainage ditches. They didn't. That's bad. The loggers will be finished before anything too bad happens to the trail. In time, the trail will come to have wet spots because the drainage ditch (which was formerly pristine, in that area anyway) is blocked. Those wet spots will become puddles, and the puddles will become a management headache just like all the other puddles.

Posted [21:44] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]
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Thu, 22 Jun 2006

Minimum wage price insensitivity

Most of the arguments in favor of a minimum wage are total economic crap. They argue that it is simply immoral to not legislate a minimum wage without reference to its effects. Intentions are more important than results to these people.

However, at least one argument is based on good economics: the argument that labor is insensitive to price. Most often, the law of supply and demand says that when the price goes up, the demand will go down. There are some goods for which this is not true: diamonds or Rolex watches (the real ones; not the ones that spammers want you to buy). At the other end of the curve, it is possible (but for which there is no good empirical evidence) that some tasks simply require a minimally-trained human. Employers will get the same employees as long as the wages remain within this magical range. Thus, minimum wage advocates argue, simple justice requires a minimum wage to ensure that the surplus goes to the workers and not the owners.

The problem is that this theoretical price range probably doesn't exist, or else is so small that it cannot reliably be discerned. Take the task of cleaning a floor. One might use a little four inch diameter broom such as I've seen used in India. Or you might buy a 24 inch push broom. Or a 72 inch floor sweeper. Or a ride-upon vacuum cleaner which sucks the living shit out of anything that might resemble dirt. There are wage scales at which each capital investment makes sense .... or doesn't.

Even if certain market sectors have a price insensitive range, it's quite possible that others do not. A minimum wage law that applies equally to everyone would be a benefit to some workers, and cause workers in other market sectors to have their jobs disappear permanently.

Economics cannot tell you what is moral or not. Economics can only tell you what will happen when you take a given action. Thus, if voters choose to destroy some people's jobs because that is the moral thing to do, they cannot be judged by economists. They can only be judged by their moral authority, who will doubtless send them to their religion's version of hell. But oops, I'm judging them, aren't I? I cannot see how workers are helped by having the worst-off lose their jobs, so that other more prosperous people may earn more money. If a rich person did that, they would be judged harshly by the very people who advocate for a minimum wage.

Oh, and Don Boudreaux points out that a law setting a minimum price for the sale of a car would be rejected by any sane person, and then goes on to ask why said sane people then argue for a minimum price for the sale of labor.

Posted [02:53] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Wed, 14 Jun 2006

Mark VIII

I think the Mark VIII is getting closer to a manufacturable keyboard. This is the first version with working electronics. The clear keyboard base is a CD jewel case cover. It's just the right thickness for the Marquardt keymodules. The code in the CPU isn't working quite right yet, but that's the easy part. I've got the design down to six flat parts plus the complex shape of the keyboard base.

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Posted [21:25] [Filed in: chordite] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Fri, 09 Jun 2006

Network Neutrality letter

Here's the Network Neutrality letter that I wrote to my congressman:

Hi. My telephone and cable company are currently seeking permission to create a two-tier Internet, and charge websites for access to me. I am currently paying them for a certain amount of bandwidth. If they are going to create NEW bandwidth and sell that to someone else, fine, let them. However, I don't trust them to do that. I expect them to double-sell bandwidth to me, and the same bandwidth to some website. This is fraudulent behavior and you should write a law that prevents them from doing that.

Previous Network Neutrality posts: 1 and 2.

Posted [15:11] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Tue, 06 Jun 2006

Casualty of the Drug War

My wife reports that allergy medicines no longer contain pseudoephedrine. Unfortunately, she also reports that allergy medicines no longer work for her. Why is pseudoephedrine deprecated? Because you need pseudoephedrine to make methamphetamine.

UPDATE June 9: Several people point out that you can still get it in a free country like Canada, or from behind the counter. My point is not personal, my point is that we are dying a death of a thousand cuts.

Posted [22:43] [Filed in: politics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Radio Silence

I haven't meant to keep "radio silence" on my Chordite keyboard experiments. I just haven't had much success lately. I tried using Shapelock, but didn't have much success. Mind you, Shapelock is great stuff. It's just not good for making something repeatably the same shape.

I'm headed down a different tack now. Turns out that both a CD and a CD jewel box are the correct thickness (1.2mm == approx 0.50") to hold a Marquardt keyswitch. So now I'm looking at cutting holes in a CD jewel box to hold the keys, and cutting slots in it to bend it into the correct shape. After a few experiments, I've gotten good at using a Dremel(tm) Rotozip(tm) cutter to cut holes. They hold the keyswitches quite securely. The prototype will have wires soldered to the keys, but in production, I'll use a flex pc board.

Posted [22:39] [Filed in: chordite] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Sat, 03 Jun 2006

Network Neutrality elevator pitch II.

Here's the Network Neutrality elevator pitch, take II:

I'm already paying my ISP for high speed Internet. If my ISP can provide me with higher bandwidth, why isn't he offering it to me?

Posted [03:14] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Network Neutrality elevator pitch.

Here's the Network Neutrality elevator pitch:

In a competitive market, I would buy the telco and cableco arguments. Their sector is very strongly regulated. There is little competition outside of their comfy duopoly. Thus, if they're given the chance to sell high speed to some people, and low speed to others, what will really happen is that no extra bandwidth will be offered. Instead everyone will get the low speed unless they pay. This is the equivalent of "Nice website ya got there. You wouldn't want anything bad to happen to it, would ya?"

Any questions?

Posted [01:57] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Fri, 02 Jun 2006

My waterproofed 770 and GPS

I want to use my Nokia 770 with my bluetooth GPS receiver outside. My Garmin Foretrex 201 is waterproofed, but neither is either of these. Plus, the current 770 code turns off the radios when the cover is on. So, there's no way to use it with a bluetooth receiver with the cover on. I don't want it kicking around in my pocket with the screen or buttons (holding down the power button turns the device off) unprotected.

I found the perfect waterproof box in my local grocery store. The 550ml box holds the 770 and GPS receiver perfectly, with just a little bit of foam to keep the 770 from rattling around.. It's labelled "Lock & Lock" by the Hana Co, made in Korea, part number HPL 815. The only online reference I can find for it is in german: Lock und Lock. However, Google to the rescue! Here's the page for the HPL 815 in English.

Posted [20:32] [Filed in: 770] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Ride starting Fri Jun 2 17:04:24 2006

34.60 km 113530.78 feet 21.50 mi 7679.00 seconds 127.98 minutes 2.13 hours 10.08 mi/hr

Went searching for the north end of Moody Rd. It still exists, and is in reasonable shape. Somebody is using the first hundred feet to get to their property. Whoever built this section of Moody Road did a good job. The most important task for a long-lived road is good drainage ditches. If you can keep the water off the road surface, it will last forever. They made a cut to get over the steepest part of the hill with a reasonable grade, and made very deep ditches, lined with rocks. I'm impressed.

Posted [19:54] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]
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Ride starting Sun May 28 13:11:54 2006

37.33 km 122469.46 feet 23.19 mi 12475.00 seconds 207.92 minutes 3.47 hours 6.69 mi/hr

Went on a sign survey of the Rutland Trail. Now I have a pile of georeferenced audio files that I need to transcribe into georeferenced text. Seems like more than anything else, the stop signs are missing. I think people think they're cute or something, and steal them. Ran into a bunch of ATV riders on this beautiful sunday afternoon. Also took notes on the locations of needed repairs, like rocks in the trail, wet spots where ditches are clogged, prickly ash that needs cutting, etc.

Posted [01:53] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]
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