29 December 2008

I may not be as cool as I thought I was

  • Dec 29, 2008

I may not be as cool as I thought I was

Someone pointed out to me recently that no one skates anymore.

Honestly, I hadn't noticed.

Now that I think about it, when I first picked it up, about 14 years ago, there were a lot of people on inlines ("blades" hahahaha)
out on the streets, around Berkeley and SF, on the bike paths, and not just the kids grinding and jumping, but adults, just out for some exercise, or to get somewhere.
And looking around now, it seems that there is... just me.

23 December 2008

The root of the problem

  • Dec 23, 2008

The root of the problem

For a long time now we have tried to believe in supply side economics (also known as Reganomics, closely related to the trickle-down theory).
Cut taxes and/or interest rates, which means people will have more money or borrow more (respectively), which they will in turn spend, and that spending will make the economy grow. Bush Jr. gave tax-payers not just a break, but a refund, calling it a "stimulus". This apparently did not work, because only a few years later we were at the point of handing billions of tax money over to major corporations.

The very idea that stimulating consumption can help the economy is flawed.

22 December 2008

The term "I told you so" comes to mind

  • Dec 22, 2008

The term "I told you so" comes to mind

I would like to point out that in January of this year, I wrote about houses not being a sound financial investment.

Popularly "sub-prime" is thought of as referring to lending to people with poor credit history.  In fact, 61% of sub-prime borrowers had a credit rating high enough for a traditional loan.  The middle class tend to be at least as guilty of living beyond their means as the working class.  21% of those making over 100k a year say they live paycheck to paycheck.
At the time I wrote the blog an unprecedented number of people were deliberately buying houses grossly out of their means using interest only loans (which would never be paid off, by design) on the assumption (by both the consumer and the bank) that the housing market would continue to climb at the rate it was forever. 
That climb, however, was driven mainly by that very speculation, valuable only due to popularity.
This summer, 6 months later, so many people were defaulting on their loans that it affected the entire credit industry, and by extension, the entire economy.

I have an associates degree in economics.  How is it that I was able to see this, yet no one in the dozens of banks and credit institutions, nor the rest of the financial sector was?  Or perhaps were they just confident that friends in the white house would help out with tax payer money?

Stay tuned for the coming of my more direct predictions.

21 December 2008

Sex vs. Morality (Warren was right)

  • Dec 21, 2008

Sex vs. Morality (Warren was right)

The Warren controversy is over the following statement:

"But the issue to me is, I'm not opposed to that as much as I'm opposed to the redefinition of a 5,000-year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage."

People are, of course, up in arms about this, as apparently comparing gays to people who commit incest or polygamy is extremely offensive.

Why is it ok to claim incest and polygamy are inherently immoral or unacceptable?
There have been, and currently still are, a great many cultures where polygamy is practiced, accepted, and legal.  Obama's father, in fact, was married to more than one woman at a time, which is legal in Kenya. 
We are talking consenting adults.  You personally may not want to share your spouse.  What reason do you have to deprive someone who does? 
It is legal, right here in California, for first cousins to marry.  Siblings are slightly closer than cousins genetically, which makes it slightly more likely that certain genetic illnesses which reside on regressive genes could surface if they had children together - but we aren't talking about having children.  Our sexual morays were developed long before the advent of accessible, safe, effective birth control.  Set aside that its gross and weird, and that you personally would never want to do it.  There is no objective reason why two siblings, who are consenting adults, shouldn't have sex if they so choose.  No one is harmed.  It isn't immoral.  Its unusual, (because our brains evolved before birth control. We naturally feel its gross, because its better for the gene pool to be mixed up), but there is nothing wrong with it.
So then, seriously, why shouldn't siblings be allowed to marry? 
When I first began a relationship with my ex-wife she was, technically, a child.  I was an adult, and in CA it was, technically, illegal (had I been 20, instead of 21, however, it would have been legal).  Of course, with a parents consent, a 17 year old can get married, and the age of the other party isn't relevant.  In different cultures and different times, what age is considered a "child" has varied.  There are a great number of countries - as well as most US states - which currently allow marriage at age 16, several at 14 (including 3 US states), and a few at 12.  In many cases (including in the US) this is below the age of adulthood.  Warren did not specify pedophilia (which implies a prepubescent child) nor the age of the older person.

19 December 2008

A twitteresque moment

  • Dec 19, 2008

A twitteresque moment

Fushi (the cat who lives with me) taught himself how to use the toilet so he wouldn't have to go out into the rain.
I will never call him dumb again.

11 December 2008

A brief addendum to the free software blog

  • Dec 11, 2008

A brief addendum to the free software blog

I just discovered a website which allows bloggers to easily add a feature so that readers can receive email updates when a new entry is posted, rather than using RSS feeds or randomly checking for new entries.
Alternatively, it can be used by readers to receive emails, even if the author hasn't set it up.
I just added one to my biodieselhauling server based blog (http://apps.biodieselhauling.org/blog). See, there it is, right at the top of the page, on the left!

for authors:

If you can not access your source code, see if you can add a "custom script" to your side bar items.

for readers:

pretty straight forward, just do it once for every blog (or other RSS item) you want to follow

Its free.

09 December 2008

Moving upstairs

  • Dec 9, 2008

Moving upstairs

The non-profit I work for is government financed.

We were trying to expand both our size and range of services for the
community, (not to mention securing better working conditions for the
employees), and many people had been working behind the scenes on this
project for a couple of years.  When I started 2 years ago it seemed
little more than a vague idea, but at each new meeting updates showed
it was coming closer and closer to a reality.

And then

Last week

I was invited to a last minute meeting, which I was told was very important.

At it we were told that the city (the smallest of 3 funding sources for
the project, but a vital component w/o which it could not happen) had
decided, unilateral, to rescind the (as yet unofficial) offer to back
the project, using the funds for a smaller, independent, temporary,
substitute instead.

06 December 2008

A practical and useful blog!

  • Dec 6, 2008

A practical and useful blog!

No ranting here.

It has come to my attention that a lot of people don't really know about these options.

Chances are, if you are reading this, you have a computer, and if you have a computer, you will probably find one or more of these things useful.
They are free.
And they are even legal.

The first are related to security. Internet relate hacking can be a big problem when someone cracks into your computer remotely and ID thefts you. A bad virus can permanently crash computer. A dialer can rack up 100s in unauthorized phone charges by using your fax line to dial 900 numbers. Mostly its just annoying software that hopes to entice you to buy some stupid crap.
While Norton and McAfee would like you to spend $60 plus a ongoing subscription charge, you can get equally good protection from viruses, spyware, and hackers, all for free.

For viruses, try AVG Free.
 For spyware (and a lot more under "advanced, if you so choose) install "SpyBot Search and Destroy"
For a software firewall, there is ZoneAlarm (A firewall keeps people from accessing your computer remotely.)
http://www.zonealarm.com/security/en-us/zonealarm-pc-security-free-firewall.htm (note: they want you to buy the pay version. Read carefully and keep clicking the free options. It is fully functional, and does everything you need)