Wed, 30 Apr 2008


Having watched people poop on the streets in Mumbai, wanting to help stop that, and not knowing what to do, I was pleased to come across the PoopReport's project to help people in India. Specifically, schoolgirls in Uttar Pradesh. They can build a composting toilet for $250, which is a fair sum, but less than the computer you're using to read this posting. Granted, it's not Mumbai, but the problem is still the same.

Posted [14:51] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , , ] [digg this]

Mercantilism is not the key to job growth

Our new governor says that state government needs to do more to lower cost of doing business in New York:

To create a more conducive climate for business, the governor said New York must make doing business in the state cheaper by investing in infrastructure and reducing high energy and health care costs.

How the heck is he going to do that? By pressing the "lower energy costs" and "lower health care costs" buttons? He's a Democrat, and Democrats are historically unwilling to do what is actually needed to lower these costs: nothing. Government needs to get out of the way of creative resourceful people with ideas. Government has a positive role to play while getting out of the way: by ensuring that all relations between people are peaceful. But that's government's only role.

He goes on to say:

For his part, Gov. Paterson reiterated his commitment to belt-tightening and fiscal prudence. "Our economy is still reeling," the governor said. "When this storm hits, we can't simply do what Albany usually does: turn around and tax the first business or the first resident we see. Rather, we have to cut wasteful spending."

No, David, you need to cut all spending, not just the wasteful spending. You need to do less for us, you need to do less to us. You need to do less, period. Shut down department after department, and send the people home to get productive jobs. Most of what New York State does is either irrelevant or actively harmful.

Posted [14:37] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Tue, 29 Apr 2008

Understanding the Stimulus 2

Earlier I spoke about the "stimulus" when it was still merely under discussion. Today comes a LA Times article saying that most recent public opinion polls found that, on the eve of distribution of the stimulus checks, most Americans plan to save the stimulus rather than spend it. Of course, the stimulus serves NO PURPOSE WHATSOEVER if people save it.

Posted [22:50] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , , , ] [digg this]

config.h Considered Harmful

Many, many programs written in C or C++ use a file called "config.h" which contains #define statement that control the compilation of the program. These programs are also nearly always build using 'make'.

I claim that these two attributes are in conflict with each other. Or, in layman's terms, "config.h sucks". The problem is that when you have multiple options in config.h, every file which may be compiled differently depending on the values defined therein, must be recompiled whenever config.h changes.

The correct way to do compile-time options is to have a config subdirectory containing a multitude of .h files, each with its own #define in it. These are easily managed because each file has only one #define, and when the source file mentions the thing being defined, it needs a #include of that config file. The 'make' program is trivially informed of these dependencies by looking at the files included in each source.

So, when you change one option, only those files which depend on it will get recompiled.

I wrote this blog posting while waiting for a program to recompile because I changed config.h .... and it's still not finished recompiling on pretty studly machine. Ahhhh, it just finished.

Of course, this is completely disrupted when you rewrite your Makefile (as GNU automake does), but that's a subject for a different posting.

Posted [17:07] [Filed in: opensource] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , , , , , ] [digg this]

Sat, 26 Apr 2008

Ride starting Sat Apr 26 18:29:30 2008

23.92 km 78479.41 feet 14.86 mi 4784.00 seconds 79.73 minutes 1.33 hours 11.18 mi/hr

Went out along the West Branch of the St. Regis River. Out on the east side, back on the west side. I'd broken a spoke on yesterday's ride, and it was threatening to rain, and I got started late, otherwise I'd have gone for a longer ride. Excuses, excuses.

Posted [20:57] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Ride starting Fri Apr 25 17:14:06 2008

34.88 km 114442.15 feet 21.67 mi 9272.00 seconds 154.53 minutes 2.58 hours 8.42 mi/hr

First ride on the Rutland Trail. Rode to Winthrop on the trail and back on the highway. A tad muddy to go both ways. I'll have to spend some time with a hoe cleaning out the drainage ditches that I've dug out in past years. No rest for the weary. Met a fellow named "Joe" from Brasher Falls, riding an ATV on the trail. He, too, is weary of the people who can't stay on the trail, who dig ruts intentionally with their wheels, who litter, and otherwise make a bad name for ATV riders.

Posted [02:06] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Wed, 23 Apr 2008

Ride starting Tue Apr 22 18:39:06 2008

29.17 km 95709.07 feet 18.13 mi 5222.00 seconds 87.03 minutes 1.45 hours 12.50 mi/hr

Rode the Zim Smith Trail Tuesday evening. The trail has some construction associated with it, so it would be an impossible ride during the work day. Fortunately, all the construction sites were quiet and empty, so I was able to buzz past them. The eastern end at Coons meets up with the D&H line, but the railroad there actually continued on its own railbed, so apparently they have plans to extend the trail into Mechanicville, which will be a good thing.

Posted [12:35] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Ride starting Sun Apr 20 11:54:30 2008

72.40 km 237522.48 feet 44.99 mi 16318.00 seconds 271.97 minutes 4.53 hours 9.92 mi/hr

Rode the North County Trailway on Sunday. Excellent riding even though it's paved the whole way. The neatest thing from my perspective was riding on the old railroad bridge over the Croton Aquaduct. This trail follows the Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad, mostly.

Posted [12:35] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Ride starting Sat Apr 19 20:07:01 2008

2.81 km 9211.29 feet 1.74 mi 750.00 seconds 12.50 minutes 0.21 hours 8.37 mi/hr

Rode on Railroad Run on the southwest side of Saratoga Springs. It's built on the Delaware & Hudson's mainline through Saratoga Springs, relocated west of the city many years ago. It's a combination paved trail and stone dust trail. Alas, it's seriously short. They got a grant in 2002 to extend it southwards; they just started work on it this spring.

Posted [12:35] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Ride starting Sat Apr 19 19:07:20 2008

7.27 km 23850.51 feet 4.52 mi 2342.00 seconds 39.03 minutes 0.65 hours 6.94 mi/hr

Rode on the Bog Meadow Nature Trail on Saturday, after my mother-in-law's wedding with my now step-father-in-law. I'm just gonna call him "Dad". Simplifies things since all previous contenders for that name are now deceased.

The trail is constructed on the right-of-way of the Saratoga and Schuylerville Railroad. There are parking areas at both ends of the trail. Unfortunately, they haven't pulled the ties. So, not only is the creosote leaking into the bog and the meadow, it's also a bitch to bicycle since the trail is far from smooth. It's fine for hiking, but unless they improve the trail, there's no pleasure in bicycling it.

Posted [12:35] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Immigrants are just like us

Everybody willing to give up home, family, community, home, hearth, and (within two generations) language to come here has the same nature as everyone else already here, and is thus already an American. We should not stand in the way of anyone who wants to set up a new life in America.


Posted [11:56] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Wed, 16 Apr 2008

Ride starting Wed Apr 16 16:50:37 2008

21.01 km 68918.57 feet 13.05 mi 5195.00 seconds 86.58 minutes 1.44 hours 9.05 mi/hr

I'm starting to like this ride. The view from the most northern road on the ride is simply gorgeous. You can see all the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.

Posted [20:55] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Freedom to disagree

The comedian John Oliver was quoted as saying, about an inflatable floating barbacue grill, which lets you cook while soaking in your pool:

"Is there any greater example of what it is to live in the freest nation on Earth than that?", he marvels with no small dose of irony

Sure, it's funny, just the idea of cooking in a pool. But why would it be ironic that freedom would produce strange outliers? In a free society, most people would be most like most other people. But out on the ends of the bell curve you've got some strange people doing strange things, and selling strange stuff. The face that you can find this strangeness is good evidence that America really is the freest nation on Earth.

Posted [12:10] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Tue, 15 Apr 2008

Ride starting Fri Apr 11 13:27:31 2008

17.55 km 57579.57 feet 10.91 mi 8475.00 seconds 141.25 minutes 2.35 hours 4.63 mi/hr

Went for a ride on the D&H Linear Park. It is built on the towpath of the D&H Canal. The track is incomplete because my GPS receiver didn't start up right away. I started at Hornbeck's Basin, a canal turning / docking area, north of Wurtsboro, and continued north (not on the track). After a bit, I noticed the NYO&W railbed to my right. I switched over to it, even though it was quite muddy in places. The grass of the towpath is hard to ride through.

Just south of Summitville, the railbed gets brushed over. Started to head over to the canal to go up to Summitville, when I remembered the NYO&W main line heading up the side of the hill. Doubled back to find it, and yep, it was right there on the hill, about 30 feet up. It's both free of brush, and open to the public, owned by the New York - New Jersey Trail Conference. Hooray! Unfortunately, there's a bit of ATV damage, and lots of crap dumped along the trail. This will be fixed in time, though, and the trail is still a great ride.

North Portal of the High View Tunnel (Thumbnail)

After I made it up to the High View Tunnel, I went back to the road I'd crossed earlier, and blew down the hill into Wurtsboro. Hopped on the towpath again, going south this time. Very much not a developed trail. They're maintaining it somewhat -- they'd cut down a tree that blocked the trail, but another one fell just twenty feet beyond it. Has the potential to be a nice trail, but it needs work, signage even. Rode north on the towpath back to my car, and on to Poughkeepsie.

Posted [15:05] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Ride starting Sat Apr 12 19:10:36 2008

10.23 km 33575.51 feet 6.36 mi 2283.00 seconds 38.05 minutes 0.63 hours 10.03 mi/hr

Rode the Hudson Valley Rail Trail (plus a bit) on Saturday. It's the Central New England's line from Poughkeepsie to Maybrook, although it's not ridable anywhere near that far. They've gotten money to lay a deck on the bridge and paint the bridge, so eventually the Dutchess Rail Trail and this one will be joinable ... if not joined.

At the south-east end of my ride is a bridge that's out, and in Lloyd is a road bridge that was replaced by a fill without any respect for the integrity of the trail, sigh. Just one eight-foot-diameter culvert would have sufficed. I had to climb over it, enter that section from the road, back-track, and go west from there to the end of the trail. It ends up going past a trailer park, which owns the right-of-way. Eventually they'll recognize it as an amenity and let people develop it as a trail.

Tons and tons of people were using the trail, even though I was riding near dusk, when the trail closes. A trail is a wonderful thing to have.

Posted [14:43] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]


Originally uploaded by Russ Nelson
Went searching for abandoned unfinished railroads on 4/12. Found this one.
Posted [01:52] [Filed in: posts] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]

Mon, 07 Apr 2008

Ride starting Mon Apr 7 16:58:58 2008

16.02 km 52568.27 feet 9.96 mi 2799.00 seconds 46.65 minutes 0.78 hours 12.81 mi/hr

Went up around Knapps Station (labelled as North Stockholm on this map). Checked out the status of the Rutland Trail. On the east side it's still too snowy for ATVers. On the west side I saw ATV tracks. I'm not sure they realize how much damage an ATV does to a soft muddy trail.

On the west side where I crossed Plum Brook, it had overflowed its culvert and was flowing across about 100' of road. The road is more like a dam than a road at that point, and with collecting probably 2000 acres worth of snowmelt, it gains quite a bit of flow in the spring. Both ends of the road were marked "Road Closed". I expect that, though, and was able to bicycle through the couple of inches of water with no problem.

Posted [22:34] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Ride starting Sun Apr 6 13:04:24 2008

20.87 km 68459.26 feet 12.97 mi 3837.00 seconds 63.95 minutes 1.07 hours 12.16 mi/hr

Second bike ride in the season, and the second bike ride in as many days. Went into Potsdam at a pretty good clip, downwind as it turned out. Coming back was much more of a chore.

Posted [00:11] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Sat, 05 Apr 2008

Ride starting Sat Apr 5 13:20:59 2008

21.14 km 69357.60 feet 13.14 mi 4039.00 seconds 67.32 minutes 1.12 hours 11.71 mi/hr

First ride of the season! Yay! And at a decent pace, too. Not bad for being off the pedals for 4.5 months (last ride was 18 Nov 2007). I felt pretty good. Got to the point on the map labelled "Southville State Forest" and considered continuing south and around through Potsdam. Would have made it about a twenty mile ride. Butt was a little sore, though, so I decided not to be a weekend hero. Better to be able to go for another ride. Plus, I'm thinking about riding the Catskill Scenic Trail next weekend.

Posted [23:56] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

NYS Railroads

I have a database of every railbed ever constructed in New York State. From that database, I've made a Google Mashup. I don't usually give the entire database to the mashup because it's a 2.7MB file. Takes a while to compute and a while to download. I did it today, though, and took a screenshot of it (below). The interesting part is that the entire state is covered with a mesh of railroads except for the southern and central Adirondacks, and a little bit of the Catskills.

Posted [23:55] [Filed in: railroads] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Fri, 04 Apr 2008

Stop Sunspots!

Look at this chart:

We need to stop sunspots! Rather than worrying about silly CO2 emissions, we need to stop the sun from varying the number of sunspots! Or ... maybe .... more sensibly ... we should understand that the climate changes. Rather than engage in futile efforts to maintain today's climate in perpetuity, we should be prepared to adapt to changes in the climate? Maybe? Ya think?

Posted [11:44] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

Thu, 03 Apr 2008

Why only the DHS and not the rest of us?

It's good that government operatives in the Department of Homeland inSecurity realize that anti-future laws are harmful and are going to "bypass" them. Good idea! How about they allow us to "set aside" these laws, too? After all, building a wall to keep ot workers is going to have negative effects on businesses (already is). They should grant businesses a boon by "waiving" these laws just as they are doing.

Frigging morons. Help! My country has been invaded by a government, and they won't go away!

Posted [22:58] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

Wed, 02 Apr 2008

Because of ....

Ever heard anybody say that something must be done "because of the terrorist threat"? The purpose of saying this is to stop discussion. Maybe there are alternative actions? Maybe it would be better to do nothing? But no, some people try to keep you from talking about these alternatives. Isn't that horrible?

Ever heard anybody say that something must be done "because of the global warming"? The purpose of saying this is to stop discussion. Maybe there are alternative actions? Maybe it would be better to do nothing? But no, some people try to keep you from talking about these alternatives. Isn't that horrible?

Both parties resort to the nuclear bomb of politics. If you are a good member of their camp, you'll SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, and do what your leaders demand.

Posted [22:49] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Tue, 01 Apr 2008

Give Privacy to Get Privacy

Aleecia M. McDonald, an attendee at David Isenberg's Freedom to Connect, pointed out in the chat room that if we ask politicans to give up privacy (e.g. through financial disclosures, or invasion of private relationships), then we will have only politicians who put no value on privacy. The laws they enact will no doubt reflect their values, and will no doubt have no respect for privacy. Very insightful observation.

Posted [17:03] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Is our country run by morons?

Both the new passport requirement for crossing the U.S. / Canada border, and the requirement for standard driver's licenses makes me wonder if our country is being run by morons. And if it is, what do we do about it?

The passport requirement is completely insane for two reasons. First, because you can cross the Canadian border on lakes, rivers, and woods. Neither the fish, the birds, nor the worms care if you show them your passport. Second is an implication stemming from the first. Because there are so many ways to cross, the border isn't so much as a line as it is a zone extending into the US by some distance. So if one must have a passport to cross the line, one must also have a passport at all times within the zone. Thus, internal document checks. I was raised on WWII movies where the Nazi SS barked "Papers Please!"

The driver's license as identification is also similarly insane. Once you have an id card which everyone must have to enter federal buildings (arguably unconstitutional; how do you petition your representatives if you cannot enter the building housing their offices?) then everyone will expect everyone to have that id card, and it will become a defacto national id card. The problem with that is that once you've forged a card, or gotten a valid card matching your biometrics but belonging to someone else, you've gotten the keys to the kingdom. You can go everywhere and do everything with that fake id.

We're more secure with the current mix of identification which people don't trust overmuch.

Posted [16:43] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]