Sun, 29 Apr 2007

Hot Fuzz as a Libertarian movie

I just saw Hot Fuzz (I'd link to their website, but it requires Flash 9). It seems like a rather libertarian movie to me. First is the emphasis on the intrinsic value of the individual, and explicit rejection of "For the Common Good". Second is the respect for the exemplary individual and denigration of the idea of "the curve buster" -- the person who does so well that they make everybody else look bad. Third is the reluctance to rely on violence to get one's way. Fourth is the respect for the Rule of Law.

Posted [01:34] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]
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Thu, 26 Apr 2007

Ride starting Thu Apr 26 17:35:00 2007

23.47 km 76989.56 feet 14.58 mi 3989.00 seconds 66.48 minutes 1.11 hours 13.16 mi/hr

A bit cool today. Supposed to rain tonight and through the weekend. But cool is good when you're emitting lots of energy, which I was. Decent speed. Of course, this ride was entirely on pavement.

Posted [19:04] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]
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Mark XII Electronics, part 2

Thanks to advice from Mitch Sun of Blue Packet, I fixed the problem with the Mark XII electronics! I didn't realize that a pull-down on a diagnostic serial input was required. Soldered an additional 10K resistor onto the board, and it's working fine. "hcitool scan" prints this:
00:12:A1:61:0E:21 BluePacket Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard

Now to design a PC board appropriate for the product!

Posted [01:28] [Filed in: chordite] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Is Robert Samuelson an economist?

Boy, after reading Samuelson's April 30 Newsweek column, I have to question his right to the name "economist". First, he pursues the common wisdom that inflation is caused by higher prices. It isn't. Inflation is everywhere and always caused by an increase in the supply of money. Money is just a thing that people are always willing to trade for because people are always willing to accept it. There's a supply and demand for money, and, yes, a price of money.

But here's the thing you need to remember: the only reason there is sustained inflation is because the government is always creating more money. It does so because it gets to spend the money first. It's a tax that nobody notices, if they even understand it. So Samuelson's discussion of oil prices, food prices, and core CPI is pretty much a waste of time, space, and print.

Second, he talks about recession. It's clear to any real economist that the Fed causes these recessions through its manipulation of the supply of money. When it inflates the money more than people expect, they think they have more cash, so they go spending. Business owners see a higher supply of money, and they think that they should invest. Unfortunately, both of them are wrong, and they need to adjust their spending downwards when the Fed reduces the rate of inflation.

I'm talking about the rate of inflation, because people get used to a certain rate of inflation. If you want to get the higher employment effects of inflation, you need to continue to raise the rate of inflation. Not just inflate, but inflate more and more. That's what von Mises called the crack-up boom". Eventuall the transaction cost due to the rate of increase exceeds the value of most transactions, so the economy stops in its tracks and falls over, dead.

Third, he worries about the U.S. trade deficit. "Trade deficit" is a misnomer (and although he's talking about terminology problems in this article, he doesn't catch this one.) There is no such thing as a trade deficit. All free trade is balanced; deficit is not possible. The term "trade deficit" really means that we're selling people things inside the US more than we're selling things to be delivered to people. As such, it's not much cause for worry.

Posted [01:04] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Mon, 23 Apr 2007

NYC Rent Control

There's an AP article out today which I quote below:

Survey Reveals Holes in City's Real Estate Market

NEW YORK, NY (1010 WINS) -- Even in a city where a closet-sized apartment can fetch a mint in rent, where so-so condos sell for over $1 million, and where real estate speculators salivate over the very air, there is property that lays fallow.

An informal survey released Saturday revealed there are at least 505 undeveloped lots in Manhattan, and another 1,723 that appear to be vacant, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer said.

``These results show that, contrary to popular belief, there are thousands of properties lying vacant in this borough,'' Stringer said. ``Now the task is to find out why and to do everything we can to make them productive properties.''

Stringer said there is enough space on these lots to create nearly 24,000 housing units that could help meet the city's future population growth.

According to the survey, 50 percent of the vacant properties are privately owned. More than 71 percent were found north of 96th Street, a traditional dividing line between the poorer neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan, and the ultra-wealthy Upper East and Upper West sides.

At least $104.8 million in property taxes is lost annually the survey found, Stringer said.

The article doesn't attempt any explanation at why so much property is going unused. A moment's economic analysis, however, will tell you that it can only be caused by rent control. No sane property owner will bother to build a building if he cannot make a profit. The specter of rent control looms over every potential landlord in NYC, whether their property is afflicted or not. As long as people in NYC think rent control is a good thing, any building might be subjected to rent control, even if some are currently exempted. See Walter Block for more information.

This is yet another example of how price floors and price ceilings cause surplusses and shortages respectively. When the government fixes prices, you get the same bad effects as when any other monopoly fixes prices. I don't understand why people see private monopolies as good, and public monopolies as bad. I suppose their theory is that they control their government, but, really, when was the last time you wrote to your legislator asking him to do something, and he actually did what you asked? Usually I get a letter back explaining how my legislator will be doing the exact opposite.

Posted [01:29] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]
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Sun, 22 Apr 2007

Ubuntu Documentation wiki

The Ubuntu Documentation folks have decided to change the license on their wiki. I hereby abandon copyright on any contributions I've made to their wiki. See their page on the change for more information.

Posted [19:47] [Filed in: opensource] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Ride starting Sun Apr 22 12:32:30 2007

18.45 km 60530.91 feet 11.46 mi 4626.00 seconds 77.10 minutes 1.28 hours 8.92 mi/hr

Just went for a little ride into town to buy stuff.

Posted [15:38] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]
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Fri, 20 Apr 2007

Ride starting Fri Apr 20 15:37:47 2007

27.14 km 89030.29 feet 16.86 mi 6300.00 seconds 105.00 minutes 1.75 hours 9.64 mi/hr

Went for my first ride on the Rutland Trail today. Lots of puddles. Lots and LOTS of puddles. Fortunately, the surface of the trail itself is pretty hard, so if you don't mind getting wet feet, you can just ride through the puddles. I did, today, a little. Need to go out with a shovel and clear some of the drainage ditches I cleared last year, sigh.

The construction elves have been busy. They rebuilt the bridge near the Crane Road intersection. I expect this is the Tri-Town ATV riders, not actual North Country wee folk. If I seriously believed that the wee folk were at work, I would go to the worst of the mudpits and leave some libation as an offering. Also, Nils Petersen's group went out and removed an old fridge from a drainage ditch, and did a lot of clearing work. They dug through a huge mound of earth blocking the drainage ditch, forcing the water to run down the trail. It will still need a pile of fill, but at least the water is running the correct way now.

I often say that I'm the loudest thing out on the trail, but this time of the year, the peepers are much louder than me.

Posted [19:06] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]
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Gun Control

I'd like to point out that the VT Massacre is a failure of gun control. If anybody attempts to misuse the Massacre to call for more gun control, they should first explain why the gun control already in place didn't work. Then they should watch Penn and Teller's Gun Control is Bullshit.

Posted [13:31] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Thu, 19 Apr 2007

Connection Manager UI issues

The Nokia Internet Tablet Connection Manager has UI issues. Since they're all separately fixable, I'll give each one its own paragraph.

When I want to go online away from home, I frankly couldn't give a darn which access point I associate with. Thus, I want to have an option in the "Select connection" dialog which says "Any working connection". It should go through the available connections, one by one, until it finds one which returns DHCP information that successfully lets it ping the default router, and resolve some standard name like "testconnection.nokia.com".

The previous paragraph's issue, if fixed, would make this one go away, but I'm treating them independently. When I select a connection, if it isn't listed in the Connections, I am immediately offered the opportunity to save the connection. Well, what if it doesn't work? That's an extra interaction with negative value to me. Put "Save connection" on the menu for the "World" icon.

The speaker volume is immediately apprehensible from the number of bars. The backlight intensity is immediately apprehensible from the number of bars. A Nokia cellphone gives me the signal strength in the number of bars right on the main screen, all the time. So why is the wifi signal strength not visible in the icon?? It's nice in IT2007 that it's there underneath the menu, as well as the AP name. But that's not half good enough.

The Connections dialog has a sillyness which is endemic to Internet Tablet dialogs. If you pick a connection, and then Delete it, it asks you if you want to delete it! Stupid computer! I just told you exactly what I want you to do! Weren't you paying attention?? Yes, I know that this is an attempt to save people from deleting connections that they actually wanted. So the UI designers put a two-step process to protect people from accidents. That's what's wrong. Next paragraph explains the fix.

The Connections dialog problem should be fixed. When you click on "Delete", it marks that connection for deletion by drawing its name with strikeout. It's not deleted until you click "Done". That's the two-step needed to actually delete. If you select a deleted connection, the Edit button is greyed-out, and the Delete button becomes "Undelete". Or maybe that's wrong, and the Edit button causes undelete?

Posted [10:37] [Filed in: 770] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Mon, 16 Apr 2007

Ferromancy

A quick google search shows some people with their own definition of "Ferromancy", but the way I heard it used this weekend was "an almost magical ability to detect the presence of a former railroad." I was down in the Beacon, NY area for a bus trip exploring the remains of a Central New England railroad, specifically the Newburg, Dutchess & Connecticut. There were some portions of the railroad which required Ferromancy to detect. It went through people's front yards and they mostly plowed it into nothingness. But next to a bank, we saw a culvert at 90 degrees to the bank's road, and parallel to the direction of the railroad.

Posted [12:04] [Filed in: railroads] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Sun, 15 Apr 2007

Kyle Smith

So I was down in Pok visiting Eli Dow and his grilfiend Jessie, going out to dinner, stopping by Best Buy, and who should we run into in Target but Kyle Smith!

Posted [19:36] [Filed in: life] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Ride starting Fri Apr 13 15:40:06 2007

39.80 km 130586.60 feet 24.73 mi 10780.00 seconds 179.67 minutes 2.99 hours 8.26 mi/hr

Woo hoo! That was a great ride last Friday. Hopped on the NYO&W trail in Kingston. It's a little wet at first, and the trail has some erosion issues. Only after going through that section did I notice that it was temporarily closed. Rode along a grassy section, then it opened up into a paved section right next to the highway. Left the highway, and started to go on the NYO&W's standard cuts and fills. The NYO&W is a railroad that should never have been built. They relied on the towns to put up bonding, so they skipped any towns that wouldn't pay. This included some of the biggest markets, e.g. Syracuse. Thus, it went through the hills and avoided the valleys. It eventually did connect Lake Ontario at Oswego to the New York City harbor, and it picked up the Scranton coal region as well, but with all the hills it had to traverse it wasn't the cheapest carrier. But, that makes it a very picturesque rail-trail.

I didn't realize that I was going to get as far as High Falls, but when I saw it coming up I simply had to go visit the D&H canal ruins there. They had five locks in town, a canal slip, and an aquaduct over the Rondout Creek. The aquaduct is long gone, but it was built using the same technology (wire ropes) as the Brooklyn Bridge.

Then, on the way back, I saw the high bridge in Rosendale. Silly me, but I didn't think of hopping on that railroad grade for the trip back. I believe that it is open for travel. It certainly is going underneath I-87 as I saw this morning. Oh well; next time.

Posted [19:22] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]
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Wed, 11 Apr 2007

Marx's Grave

I spit on Marx's grave today. I had a 10 hour layover in Heathrow on the way back from Mumbai. Walked around Hampstead Heath, and wound up in Highgate Cemetary (East). Interestingly, his grave is immediately opposite Herbert Spencer's grave. That's nearly as amusing as it would have been to bury Marx next to Adam Smith. Maybe they put Spencer across from Marx to keep a wary eye on him?

Herbert Spencer's grave (Thumbnail)

Posted [02:05] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Sat, 07 Apr 2007

Disappointed by Google

I've finally been disappointed by Google. I tried a search for "morse ... -- ..." and all I got was a page on morse code, rather than the decoded morse code.

Posted [00:54] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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Wed, 04 Apr 2007

Environmentalists

Someone quipped, on one of the blogs that I read:

We have more to fear from environmentalists than the environment
Preach it, brother!

Posted [10:35] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]
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