Fri, 27 Jun 2008

Unions are big business

Unions are big businesses which seek to gain a monopoly in sales over a commodity (labor). As such, I completely fail to see why they should have even a gnat's breadth of help from the government in the marketplace. And yet they do. For example, in New York State, some groups are subject to hiring standards. These include paying "the prevailing wage", which always means the union wage. Of course, if you have to pay union wages, you may as well hire a union member, because, well, that's a nice business you've got, and you wouldn't want any accidents to happen to it, would you?

Posted [01:15] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , , ] [digg this]

Mon, 23 Jun 2008

George Carlin, RIP

George Carlin passed away today. He was an amazingly funny storyteller and observer of life. At one point in my teens I had several of his sketches memorized. Well, not exactly memorized, as that would imply that I had put effort into trying to remember them. It was more that the cassette tapes were starting to wear out from the playing and replaying.

UPDATE: George Carlin didn't pass away. He FUCKING DIED! Ahem.

Posted [01:56] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , , , , , ] [digg this]

Sat, 21 Jun 2008

Ride starting Sat Jun 21 09:22:01 2008

51.88 km 170201.60 feet 32.24 mi 13257.00 seconds 220.95 minutes 3.68 hours 8.75 mi/hr

Went for an odd sort of bike ride today. I rode with Hank Walther on his RailRider. It's a quadcycle (four wheels) with rail wheels rather than road wheels, and it's built to standard gauge. So, with permission of the Upper Hudson River Railroad general manager, Cliff Wells, we rode from Riparius Station (currently the southern-most end of their excursion trains) south to Thurman Station (which is currently just a siding and wheelchair ramp, as the station itself has been gone for some time).

Hank and the RailRider:

Not only was it an odd bike, but Hank added an electric motor to it, so we were able to cruise along at speeds up to 22 mph without pedaling one bit.

Posted [23:09] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

Mon, 16 Jun 2008

Bottled Water

Various environmentalistsidiots are opining about the harmfulness of bottled water to the environment. Unfortunately, in a democracy, even idiots get to open their trap. Go read that article. It won't convince you of anything you didn't know already. Perhaps some people drink bottled water for the reasons they cavail against. There are other reasons for preferring the services that come with bottled water.

The real problem here is that environmentalists don't understand that NOBODY sets out to harm the environment. Nobody wakes up thinking "yeah, I'm gonna go destroy some environment today." People do destroy various bits of the environment every day. So do animals, and in a non-sustainable way, too. Deer will eat themselves out of food.

Instead, people want services, services which inevitably end up destroying a part of the environment. People value these services more than the cost of the destroyed environment. Just as environmentalists are free to whine about how awful everyone is (not including themselves of course, even though they also prefer services to a perfectly protected environment), so, too, are people free to buy these services.

Posted [11:28] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

Sat, 14 Jun 2008

Ride starting Fri Jun 13 18:47:24 2008

29.32 km 96195.19 feet 18.22 mi 5643.00 seconds 94.05 minutes 1.57 hours 11.62 mi/hr

Rode up to Norfolk again. Went straight up Rt. 56 -- not the most pleasant highway riding in the world, but far from the worst. Rode past the Barrett gravel mine, and noticed some center-dump cars sitting on the old railroad tracks. Those tracks used to cross the road, but many years ago during one repaving project or another the rails were ripped up away from the highway. Now they're back. I looked closer at them, and they were actually relaid closer to the highway ... using 110 pound rail. The old rails are like 70 pound rails, much shorter. They look like a dachsund and a great dane mating. The wonder is not that it can be done, but that anyone would attempt it.

Walked back along the tracks a ways, and found that the two sidings visible on the 7.5' topo map are still in place. Also found that the New York & Ogdensburg Railroad had replaced a bunch of ties. They just left the old ones where the equipment pulled it out. Gotta go back and take pictures.

Went east on Adams Road in Norfolk, to catch up with Old Market Road. Did so, but also rode past it to look at the Brothers Lumber yard where a railroad siding used to go. The only things I found were the embankment for the railroad going through a wetland, and a strange concrete structure at what must have been the tail end of the track. It has a tunnel going through it, which I would have thought might be a place for a truck to go under the tracks and get filled from a center dump car, but there's no hole in the roof. I'll take pictures and ask around. Now I'm curious!

Posted [00:16] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Wed, 11 Jun 2008

Ride starting Wed Jun 11 16:30:54 2008

25.81 km 84675.93 feet 16.04 mi 5146.00 seconds 85.77 minutes 1.43 hours 11.22 mi/hr

Went down my favorite pair of disused roads. They're still in drivable condition, except for the trees that fell in the storm yesterday. Gonna take some serious chainsawing to open them up again.

Posted [18:01] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Tue, 10 Jun 2008

Global Warming in One Sentence

Looking for a way to understand global warming in just one sentence? Try this one on for size:

I find no value in any mention of human-caused CO2 global warming when there is no corresponding mention of the 2-3 degree 1500 year +-500 warming / cooling cycle.

Or, its more succinct version:

A fart on a farm isn't noticable.

Posted [03:05] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

Sun, 08 Jun 2008

Ride starting Sun Jun 8 11:37:30 2008

40.16 km 131754.87 feet 24.95 mi 9151.00 seconds 152.52 minutes 2.54 hours 9.82 mi/hr

According to my GPS receiver, I went 25.2 miles. It doesn't record every point in the track, but it uses every point to calculate distance. Anyway, I had a nice trip. Went to find an old road I've been wanting to travel on for a few decades. It goes between River Road and Lime Hollow Road. Looks like it might be drivable in a car, but it isn't. The ruts are too deep. A tractor could, and a tractor has, gone down it lately.

Lime Hollow Road has at least three thriving Amish farms on it. Of course, being a Sunday, they were just sitting around, enjoying the day. Just past the first one is Ekey Road. I went west on it a little ways, just to see where it went. Answer: not far, then it becomes a sandy track. I don't know if it goes through or not. It looks like the bridge on the far end, at Dixon Corners, crossing Trout Brook, is still there. I'll check it out one of these days. Today was too hot (in the 90's) to do that.

Came back via the Rutland Trail. Boy, it's getting awfully rooty. Have to figure out how to get the roots out, otherwise some snowmobiler is going to get killed, like happened over in Franklin County a few years ago. Got his front ski caught under a root, the sled flipped, and threw him into a tree.

Posted [19:32] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Ride starting Sat Jun 7 18:56:07 2008

28.49 km 93486.46 feet 17.71 mi 6066.00 seconds 101.10 minutes 1.69 hours 10.51 mi/hr

Went around Norwood Pond and up to Norfolk, to see what's up there. Noticed that Vermont Railway Systems has been busy with their New York and Ogdensburg Railroad. They built a concrete pad with a depressed area in the middle, over the old main headed up to Waddington. They've got a bulk loader sticking out of the bottom of it. Not obvious what they were off-loading, but the flies sure loved it.

They used to have a car construction shed, with two tracks. Now the tracks are gone and there are new large doors on them. Nice buildings, for certain purposes.

They've moved their Jordan Spreader plow off the siding near the old depot, and have removed the tracks from the siding. Maybe they'll remove the switch next? They also have a "hyrail" brush cutter, which looks like it's got the equivalent to two bush hogs for cutting outside the grade. I didn't see if they had any way to cut inside the grade.

Came back from Norfolk through Knapps Station.

Posted [01:38] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

Sat, 07 Jun 2008

Nincompoops in Office

Our lawmakers are saving us from reality yet again. I guess that means that they live in a fantasy world where bad things never happen and resources are never scarce (but given that they can raise taxes at will their resources are never scarce). Assemblyman Lafayette is one of them:

Lafayette's Price Gouging Statute Must be Strictly Enforced

When hurricanes strike, when floods, fire or ice storms ravage neighborhoods, a few unscrupulous businesses take advantage of vulnerable people by skyrocketing prices of essential consumer goods to make large profits. This was why Lafayette authored Chapter 510 of the laws of 1998, which strengthened the price gouging statute.

The huge increases in gasoline prices have a high profile with sometimes twice daily increases. But, let’s not forget about heating oil, natural gas and electricity.

The law originally stipulated that only retailers could be held accountable for gouging the price of consumer goods during times of crisis. Lafayette made the law more expansive to prohibit price gouging by any party within the chain of distribution of consumer goods including manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers.

Unfortunately, there are some businesses who will increase the cost of essential consumer goods in times of crisis for their own benefit. When gasoline prices are at their highest levels in history and oil companies are reporting record profits, it raises a red flag. These companies, along with their suppliers and distributors, must be investigated to determine if there is any wrongdoing.

Price gouging is not an uncommon practice. It has occurred in New York City during previous hurricanes and floods. This law provides broad authority for the Attorney General to investigate businesses that may take advantage of vulnerable people. Lafayette believes that people need to be punished accordingly and the way to do this is to utilize this more encompassing law that works.

Now they're raising the fine for price gouging from $10,000 to $25,000 plus restitution, when they should be eliminating the fine and restitution entirely.

In a crisis, certain resources are scarce. They shouldn't be wasted, and they should go to the people who put the most value on them. The best way to discover who these people are, in a free-market society like America, is to let the price of the resource float. The people who have the highest use will be willing to pay the highest price.

This has several pleasant effects: first, it rewards people who have the good sense to keep these resources in stock, available for other people to use when the crisis hits. Second, it encourages other people to work really really hard to increase the supply of this scarce resource, because they know they'll be rewarded by high profits. Third, the higher the profit, the more the resource will flow into the area where it's badly needed, and the sooner the price will drop down to normal levels.

Instead of allowing gouging and its pleasant effects, our idiotslawmakers are doing their best to eliminate these pleasant effects, and ensure that the pain of a crisis lasts as long as possible.

Frigging morons.

Posted [00:40] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Fri, 06 Jun 2008

Accept Only The Genuine Article!

It has come to my attention that there are some people running around, falsely calling themselves Russ or Russell Nelson. Do not be fooled! Accept only the genuine article! I am the One True Russ Nelson, forever and always the first and the best.

Posted [10:43] [Filed in: life] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

Tue, 03 Jun 2008

Car Maintenance

Food is more important to your health than anything a doctor can do for you. Why don't we have a food insurance program?

Answer: because it would obviously be stupid. Now ... defend the health insurance system.

I didn't think you could. The reason we have employer-paid health insurance can be traced back to WWII wage and price controls. Desirable workers could not be paid more, but you could give them free health care. Employers did, and didn't stop when the wage controls went away.

Now we're stuck in the ridiculous situation of treating people like cars, doctors like car mechanics, and insurance companies like car owners. The car has no say in how much maintenance it gets, nor how much that maintenance costs. Consequently, it demands the best maintenance, price be damned. Any wonder that lots of people can't afford health care unless it's paid for by someone else?

Health care should be cheap and readily available, like food.

Posted [03:33] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Sun, 01 Jun 2008

Ride starting Sat May 31 16:12:47 2008

26.48 km 86878.17 feet 16.45 mi 9664.00 seconds 161.07 minutes 2.68 hours 6.13 mi/hr

Went in the direction of West Potsdam to visit my friend Bill Mackently.

Posted [02:28] [Filed in: bicycling] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags ] [digg this]

China Brands

Chinese companies are starting to realize that their brand name is "Chinese", and that their brand is no better than the worse of their competitors. When one "Chinese" product contains lead, all "Chinese" products are equally harmed. Expect more Chinese companies to start pushing their brand names, as a way of standing behind the quality of their products.

Posted [02:07] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , , ] [digg this]