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User Journal

Journal Journal: Economics in Brief (Internet Flotsam)

Here's some internet flotsam attributed to a graduation speech by Thomas Sargent (without digging into whether this speech really happened: the content is interesting).

Economics is organized common sense. Here is a short list of valuable lessons that our beautiful subject teaches.

1. Many things that are desirable are not feasible.

2. Individuals and communities face trade-offs.

3. Other people have more information about their abilities, their efforts,
and their preferences than you do.

4. Everyone responds to incentives, including people you want to help. That
is why social safety nets don't always end up working as intended.

5. There are tradeoffs between equality and efficiency.

6. In an equilibrium of a game or an economy, people are satisfied with their
choices. That is why it is difficult for well meaning outsiders to change
things for better or worse.

7. In the future, you too will respond to incentives. That is why there are
some promises that you'd like to make but can't. No one will believe those
promises because they know that later it will not be in your interest to
deliver. The lesson here is this: before you make a promise, think about
whether you will want to keep it if and when your circumstances change.
This is how you earn a reputation.

8. Governments and voters respond to incentives too. That is why governments sometimes default on loans and other promises that they have made.

9. It is feasible for one generation to shift costs to subsequent ones. That is
what national government debts and the U.S. social security system do
(but not the social security system of Singapore).

10. When a government spends, its citizens eventually pay, either today or
tomorrow, either through explicit taxes or implicit ones like inflation.

11. Most people want other people to pay for public goods and government
transfers (especially transfers to themselves).

12. Because market prices aggregate traders' information, it is difficult to forecast stock prices and interest rates and exchange rates.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Geothermal vs Solar Power 1

Here are the basic numbers on aailable geothermal vs solar power (since this has come up in discussion more than once).

The surface area of the Earth is about 5.1 x 10^14 m^2. The cross sectional area is about 1.3 x 10^14 m^2 (one quarter of the surface area, of course).

Per this paper found as a cite on wikipedia, the total heat flow out from the Earth's interior is 4.42 x 10^13 W, or 0.0867 W/m^2. Of course, the available power is much less because it's only the subsurface-surface temperature difference that's available.

Total solar irradience is 1361 W/m^2 by NASA's latest estimate (so about 1.7 x 10^17 W across the entire cross section), or about 1000 W/m^2 on the surface at noon on a cloudless day. Averaged over the day-night cycle (surface area vs cross-section, so 250 W/m^2), and taking clouds into account that's about 180 W/m^2 (I can't find a solid source on that yet, but it looks close).

So, total solar power flow is about 4000 times as large as total geothermal flow. I'm not quite sure how to estimate the (ideal) available power as a percentage of the total geothermal power flow, but if we use a WAG of 50%, then the available power from solar is also about 4000 times per square meter more than geothermal - significantly more if we average solar power only across populated latitudes.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The End. 17

My marriage is done. We are done.

I have nothing to say, except for that one fact. It seems right to mark this date here.

Saturday May 23 2009.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Hi there 10

heh, another friday, another JE for me.

How are you, dear friends?

I was going to tell you all my troubles -but truth tell, they are minor. I am just built to be a happy person, I couldn't even go one night feeling disenfranchised.

Whatever happens, I can't claim to be the victim of it. I am what I make - and I'll be damned if I don't make something awesome.

Hey, I'm on twitter now, guess what my handle is? Would love to chat, please follow me and let me know what's new.



User Journal

Journal Journal: Global Warming Link

This is the best summary of the great global warming fraud I've yet seen, and published in the most unlikely of places.

To be told, as I have been, by Mr. Gore, again and again, that carbon dioxide is a grave threat to humankind is not just annoying, by the way, although it is that! To re-tool our economies in an effort to suppress carbon dioxide and its imaginary effect on climate, when other, graver problems exist is, simply put, wrong. Particulate pollution, such as that causing the Asian brown cloud, is a real problem. Two billion people on Earth living without electricity, in darkened huts and hovels polluted by charcoal smoke, is a real problem.

Although I feel Harold Ambler makes some good points, he misses what I've always felt was the most important. Given that the climate will change (as it always has), do we want it to be warmer, or colder? As glaciers covering Europe (the norm for the ice age we've been in for the past 100M years) seems to me far worse than rising sea levels, I've never understood why we'd want to fight warming in the first place.

I think the whole global warming fraud started by ignoring all of the available evidence and blindly asserting that the climate is naturally stable, so therefore if man did something to break that stability we'd be creating an otherwise-avoidable catastrophe. What BS. The only thing historically unprecedented is the inexplicable stability of the climate for the past 10K years. Change is unavoidable, with or without the actions of man.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Well then 8

Gonna hang out my own shingle. Think I can change the world. I'm probably wrong. All the same, I'm willing to try my best.

Just try and stop me...

User Journal

Journal Journal: What, no comments allowed Mr. john d the second? 3

Hey! You can't just have a car accident and post something where we can't write in and let you know that we're thinking of you and that we're glad you're alive and not splattered across the side of a Semi Trailer somewhere.... well ok the truth is I'm just damn glad that you could post at all.

Get well and don't go jumping around early, make sure you give yourself a lot of time to recover. And sleep lots. See if you can get yourself hooked on daytime tv :)

Slashdot without you would be a grey place. Please take care of yourself and know that we love you.



Update: um, nevermind. I interpreted the big white space after the JE to mean that there was no more content. I forget that the CSS here ain't exactly Zen Garden...

User Journal

Journal Journal: don't get it 13

You know, I'm trying to be a better wife. I guess I just have to accept the Mars/Venus thing.

My husband is really, really susceptible to stress. His health tanks when he's stressed, he just can't handle it. This winter break, my sled wouldn't start (right after we took the damn thing in for maintenance due to a recall). Hubby spent 2 days doing everything he could think of, and was generally angry and miserable, refused to go snowmobiling himself, and so forth. We took it in, they fixed it -- and the first ride out, the nut came off the A-arm of my right ski. The a-arm is what keeps the ski pointed forward - the only other piece connected to the ski is the main strut, which is on a ball-joint. Had the a-arm separated while I was moving at speed, the ski could have jacknifed, and well - that would have been bad.

Chances are, the snowmobile shop forgot to tighten the nuts after they did the recall work. My hubby is absolutely determined to sue the shop.

Why? Why why why why? Why take on that stress. Why not just be happy that all is well that ends well and move on?

I can't say that though. If I encourage him to drop it, he will accuse me of siding against him, that I don't support him.

Sigh. I'm not very good at remaining silent on things like this. I can only hope that he will tire of this whole plan and give it up. My dog walker thinks that this is about control -- he can't control so many things that happen to him - but dammit, he's going to control this one thing, make these people pay if it kills him...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chipmunk Face (can I gross you out?) 15

Just had my top two wisdom teeth out.

While talking to the Dentist, he said that from the X-rays this looked like an easy extraction, although sometimes it turns out that there is a root that is facing directly away from the X-ray that can give trouble.

Ya. Well turns out there's one other thing that can cause your dentist to pull and pull and rock and lift and pull and remark in wonder that your tooth could be failing to yield to the pressure exerted by a full-grown man with surgical instruments...

Turns out that the roots of my upper wisdom teeth, which looked so nice and conical on the X-rays, were corkscrew shaped. On one side, the corkscrew had grown around the bone, and couldn't be extracted until that small piece of bone came away...

(grossed out yet?)

On the other side, I have some kind of nerve connection between the front and back nerve in my upper jaw. As a result, the dentist had to basically freeze the entire right side of my face, with more than twice the freezing than was needed on the other side.

The good news is that I'm numb right now. The bad news is, I won't be forever. The fact that they have sent me home with 600mg ibuprofen tablets tells me that life is going to suck for a few days. Scariest of all is that I have to take the tablets with food, and food is not something that I can imagine actually ingesting in the next 2 days....

The worst part is -- the lower wisdom teeth are in much worse shape. I hope they never have to come out.

User Journal

Journal Journal: VI gurus - help? 2

Has anyone out there seen a case where vi inserts ever more tabs into a pasted piece of code in insert mode?

The following two octal dumps were made by pasting the same copied code twice - first into a redirected cat file called shorttest1, and later into vi, saved as shorttest2

Right around line 0000060 in each file, although slashdot takes it out and moves the whole line to the left, there is a place in the pasted content where there are 8 spaces. On line 0000200, there are also 8 spaces - but in the vi file, a tab has been prepended. The next time there are 8 spaces, 2 tabs are prepended. After that, 3 tabs are prepended. And so on... Always the 8 spaces remain.

I have to assume this is a botched attempt at replacing the 8 spaces with a tab.

Anyone been here seen this and can help?

Thanks for your time.


ps - I can't find a fixed-width font that will show the code in columnar form. Sigh. Perhaps if you paste it somewhere fixed width, it will make sense.

$ vi -h
VIM - Vi IMproved 6.3 (2004 June 7, compiled Aug 29 2007 17:32:14)

$ od -c shorttest1
0000000 f u n c t i o n w f A d d C u
0000020 s t o m V a r i a b l e ( & $ m
0000040 a g i c W o r d s ) { \n
0000060 f o r e a c h ( $ G L
0000100 O B A L S [ ' w g C u s t o m V
0000120 a r i a b l e s ' ] a s $ v
0000140 a r ) $ m a g i c W o r d s [
0000160 ] = " M A G _ $ v a r " ; \n
0000200 r e t u r n t
0000220 r u e ; \n } \n
0000240 \n f u n c t i o n w f A d d C
0000260 u s t o m V a r i a b l e I D (
0000300 & $ v a r i a b l e s ) { \n
0000320 f o r e a c h ( $
0000340 G L O B A L S [ ' w g C u s t o
0000360 m V a r i a b l e s ' ] a s
0000400 $ v a r ) $ v a r i a b l e s
0000420 [ ] = c o n s t a n t ( " M
0000440 A G _ $ v a r " ) ; \n
0000460 r e t u r n t r u e ; \n
0000500 } \n
$ od -c shorttest2
0000000 f u n c t i o n w f A d d C u
0000020 s t o m V a r i a b l e ( & $ m
0000040 a g i c W o r d s ) { \n
0000060 f o r e a c h ( $ G L
0000100 O B A L S [ ' w g C u s t o m V
0000120 a r i a b l e s ' ] a s $ v
0000140 a r ) $ m a g i c W o r d s [
0000160 ] = " M A G _ $ v a r " ; \n
0000200 \t r e t u r n
0000220 t r u e ; \n \t \t
0000240 } \n \t \t \t \n \t \t \t f u n c t
0000260 i o n w f A d d C u s t o m V
0000300 a r i a b l e I D ( & $ v a r i
0000320 a b l e s ) { \n \t \t \t
0000340 f o r e a c h ( $ G L
0000360 O B A L S [ ' w g C u s t o m V
0000400 a r i a b l e s ' ] a s $ v
0000420 a r ) $ v a r i a b l e s [ ]
0000440 = c o n s t a n t ( " M A G
0000460 _ $ v a r " ) ; \n \t \t \t \t
0000500 r e t u r n t r u
0000520 e ; \n \t \t \t \t \t
0000540 } \n \n

User Journal

Journal Journal: knee deep in wiki... 6

Holy MediaWiki crash course!

Namespaces, Categories, Templates, Subpages...

Who knew wikis could be so complicated? It wouldn't be so fricking brutal to learn either, except Amazon has backordered the MediaWiki book I bought, so I have no choice but to read (shudder) a wiki in order to learn to use the wiki...

Bleh. It's a miracle I can find anything. There are probably other useful concepts that I just haven't been lucky enough to know to search for or to stumble across in the game of link roulette that is my attempt to learn enough to properly construct a rather large interconnected page structure...

I think what I'll end up being able to do will be cool, but getting there has been a bit of an exercise in uncertainty. I'm not sure if I'll still be a wiki hater after this, but if I am, at least I'll be a qualified wiki hater...

Update: Wow, now I understand why big wiki sites are so cool while little wiki sites always suck so much... I did not understand just what you can do with this stuff.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Mopping up 4

So I went to get my teeth cleaned yesterday, and I have to go back in the near future to (a) get my top wisdom teeth pulled, and (b) get something called "invisalign" which seems to be a marginally more humane version of braces.


The funniest part of the visit was the part where they scraped and polished and fluorided me. I had a *messy* dental assistant - and I do mean messy. There was stuff flying everywhere, all over my face, running down my neck... I swear she was having a water fight with someone in the next cubicle.... then when it got to the fluoride treatment, she put WAY too much foamy stuff into the trays, and stuffed the whole thing into my face anyways... foam erupted all over the place... and the whole time she's cheerfully regaling me with all sorts of stories in which she seems to want me to participate, despite the fact my mouth is otherwise occupied :)

She was a bit of a yard sale, but I still had fun. Which is saying a lot for a dental visit...

User Journal

Journal Journal: jPod 3

Just watched a new TV show called jPod. I *think* it is a Canadian show, at least it is being broadcast on the CBC, and it's located in Canada - but the snazzy production values and the Executive Producer make me wonder.

The show is produced by and based on the novel of the same name by Douglas Coupland, and revolves around a small group of video game programmers working in a company called "Neotronic Arts" in Vancouver.

It actually looks like an interesting, quirky little show - with lots of geekisms...

Do you guys get it too, or is it truly just for us Canucks for now?


User Journal

Journal Journal: The New Years Redneck Scoop 4

Ah, another New Year, another tale of redneck wonder.

This year, we let the neighbours set up the fireworks display, as we didn't feel like shelling out all the cash.

Our usual fireworks m.o. is to set up a framework and secure all the fireworks to the framework, connected with sparklers. This has the wonderful advantage that you do all the thinking and planning while still sober, and merely light a match at midnight.

The neighbours opted to put the fireworks into a snowbank and light them one by one. It all worked very well, but of course all the snowbanks are around the edge of the cul-de-sac, and the first thing I noticed when the fireworks started going off, was that they had managed to place the firing location for the fireworks directly underneath power lines....

I observed this to my friends, and their reply was "oh yeah, Andrew (a 7-year-old) pointed that out to the boys this afternoon. They didn't seem to think he was worth listening to..."


User Journal

Journal Journal: So Sick... 11

This may be the most pathetic Christmas ever.

Both my hubby and I are sick. We've both got a terrible stomach flu, and well, it isn't pretty. We've already had to cancel out of festivities tomorrow night, and I don't hold out much hope for Christmas Eve either.

On the bright side, we're catching up on a lot of movies...

We also finally found a counselor we like. She's great, an older lady with an 11-year-old Lhasa Apso, who patiently perches himself on her lap while she rocks and gestures and tells stories about her own life experiences in addition to listening to ours...

I have no idea whether she can help the marriage, but I feel very confident that she can help us - and that makes me feel like things can come out right.

Hope you're all spending a comfy cozy holiday with those you love.


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Remember: Silly is a state of Mind, Stupid is a way of Life. -- Dave Butler