Sat, 31 Jan 2009

Check Yourself!

I'm not a huge fan of rap, but ya gotta love a stockbroker type rapping about the failout. Hat tip to Gregg Somerville.

Posted [00:29] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Thu, 29 Jan 2009

The Failout

The problem here is simple: credit is scarce because nobody wants to lend and nobody wants to buy. Why not? Because the Federal Government is threatening to borrow and spend a TRILLION DOLLARS. If you are bank, would you sell your product if you knew that an A-grade customer was going to be spending a TRILLION dollars soon? Of course not. Even if they choose not to buy from you, the price of lending is going to go up. It can't help but go up, not when a TRILLION dollar buyer is showing up. So nobody is lending now.

And nobody is buying anything now. Why would you? You want to be positioned correctly for the TRILLION dollars which is going to enter the market soon. You don't want to invest your money in something, only to find that the market has shifted and your investment is toast.

The failout is not the solution to our problems. It is the CAUSE of our problems, merely by being threatened. Why is this not obvious to everyone?

I blame Krugman.

Posted [11:49] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , , , , ] [digg this]


I wonder if Paul Krugman has borrowed huge amounts of money and spent it already? If he hasn't done it, then why should we? If he doesn't trust his own theory for his own household, then why should we trust his theory for our country?

The answer is that of course he hasn't done that, because his theory requires that many people behave differently than each person. And yet when the many are made up of individuals, how can that be?

Krugman's theory has no legs. That dog don't hunt.

Posted [02:53] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

Tue, 27 Jan 2009

Copyright Must Expire

Human beings are relative people. Everything we do, everything we feel, everything we think, is relative to other things we do, feel, or think. Your perception of hot and cold is relative to the most recent thing you felt. The Exploratorium has an excellent demonstration of this. They have a heated pipe, a cooled pipe, and a pipe at room temperature. You grab the heated with your left hand, the cooled with your right, and then the pipe at room temperature. It feels cool with your left hand, but warm with your right hand even though it's the same temperature. You cannot absorb a new concept unless you have a way to relate it to other things you know.

In order for new creative things to have any meaning, they must relate in some way to existing things. Rap artists explicitly include snippets of other music in their works. Musicians use the twelve-tone system, not because it is intrinsically correct, but because it is familiar. Non-western cultures use microtones in-between the twelve, and they handle that just fine.

In order for new things to have value, they must be built on top of the old things. If copyright were perpetual (and currently nothing has gone out of copyright in Mickey Mouse's entire lifetime -- and he's already pushing the average lifespan of an adult male), then the value of old things would be going up, up, up. This reduces the incentive to create new things, because the new things create demand for the old things, which decreases the available compensation to pay for the new things.

Science Fiction authors have explored the dynamics of perpetual life, and there seems to be a consensus that it is mortality which drives the creative process: create or die, because otherwise you'll just die.

Copyright must expire, just like people must die.

Posted [02:16] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

Sat, 24 Jan 2009

A Bias Towards Action

Doing "nothing" is exactly what a soccer goalie does when he's positioned himself in the right place given the shot angles available to the opposition.

Unfortunately, doing "nothing" gets politicians no extra credit on their final exam. Politicians, like soccer goalies, have a bias towards action which causes them to fail more than inaction would.

Posted [01:58] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Wed, 21 Jan 2009

Cloudmade, my new employer

After 17 years of working for myself, I've decided to fire my boss, and hire a new one, Cloudmade. We're working on improving OpenStreetMap, a community edited map. All sorts of geodata can, should, and need to be added to OpenStreetMap. I'm available to give presentations about open data, OpenStreetMap, and collaborative communities in the NorthEast of the USA.

I'm also blogging over at the community Cloudmade site.

Posted [03:25] [Filed in: opensource] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

The Secret of Push Hands

I have ascertained the secret of Tai Chi Push Hands. This is a system of study to the end of being able to push an opponent so hard that they go flying across the room. It's not fake. It's real. I've had it done to me, and I've seen it done to others.

The way it works is simple but subtle. The master of the art knows how to get you off balance so quickly that your body jumps in order to stay in balance. You can see this for yourself when you walk on ice, and the supporting foot slips out from underneath you. You don't fall; instead you jump up and use your unweighted leg to get your weighted leg back underneath you.

The master simulates this by determining (through years of practice) where your balance is weakest. He then pushes you in that direction, very gently, but quickly. If this is done correctly, you jump backwards to keep your balance. The master exerts very little force, but induces you to do all the movement.

This is a very effective fighting art, because in a fight between peers, the fight is won by the person with the greater stamina. If the master is constantly forcing you to exert great effort, with very little effort on his part, you will be exhausted before he is even winded.

Posted [03:13] [Filed in: life] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

The Rival Student

The Rival Student goes to the Master and says "Master, demonstrate your system on me so that I may decide if I want to be your student." The Master soundly defeats the Rival Student's every attack.

The Rival Student goes away thinking "He is a fraud. He only used his physical strength, no qigong at all."

The Master thinks "... and he couldn't even stop my physical strength. Not much of a student."

Posted [02:57] [Filed in: life] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Mon, 19 Jan 2009

Why is a bailout needed?

I still haven't heard anybody put forth a good case for exactly WHY a bailout -- or indeed any government intervention in the economy -- is needed. People will say "Oh, well, free markets can't solve problem X" and then go on to propose a government solution which nobody is sure will solve the problem. I'm like "what the hell?? You say that free markets CAN'T solve the problem, but you don't know how governments can solve the problem and that becomes a problem with free markets??"

Where's the logic??

Posted [01:13] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Sat, 03 Jan 2009

Jack Powelson, RIP

I'm sad to report the death of my friend, Jack Powelson. Quite frankly, he is responsible for saving me from the hell that is socialist economics. I could see that socialism didn't really provide the goods for people, and that capitalism did, but I felt that a good Quaker was a socialist Quaker. Jack pointed me to a way out: good economics really is concern for the poor.

Thank you for existing, Jack!

Posted [15:41] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

The Bailout

What if the money for the Bailout was stolen? Would anyone care? What if it was stolen from our children?

Posted [02:26] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]