Saturday, December 27, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Steve Jones is the author of a pretty good evolution-focused book that I read several years ago and would recommend: Almost Like A Whale. That is the title of the UK version of the book (the version I have), but the US version is instead called Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated .
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I just came across this rap about the Large Hadron Collider. I've seen 'nerdcore' rap before (see MC Plus Plus), but this is the first such rap I've seen by a woman. It is awesome. You can bask in lyrics like (from about 2:40)
The Higgs boson, that's the one
that everybody talks about,
and it's the one sure thing
that this machine will sort out.
If the Higgs exists
they ought to see it right away.
And if it doesn't,
the scientists will finally say,
"There is no Higgs!
We need new physics
to account for why
things have mass.
Something in our Standard
Model went awry!"
Monday, September 22, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Obama's 10 Dumbest Policy Ideas
McCain's 10 Dumbest Policy Ideas
Probably the only one I would potentially challenge is the nuclear item on the McCain list. Sure, 45 plants sounds like a pretty arbitrary number, but the assertion that they would take too long to come online to 'matter' as far as climate change is concerned sounds dubious to me. If the even 50 years is 'too long to matter' (and I don't think people are asserting it would take 50 years to bring 45 plants online; we have 104 plants today, and a good chunk of those would have been end of lifed by the time these 45 are all up), we're pretty screwed: no way the developing world will have gone all the way from where they are, zipping right through developed economy status, and magically ending up in some ultra low emissions future state within that time frame. Given that, even if we could get to zero emissions tomorrow, those savings would be negated by rest of world growth within that time frame.
In a sense, I think the FP summary actually sort of mis-summarized the Ferguson/Squassoni article (in FP itself!). The article did not really so much argue that 45 plants would be 'too late to matter,' but rather that even if we built 45 plants, the growth of demand in China and India alone -- and given that nearly all of that will be coal-based -- will more than cancel out 45 zero-emission nukes.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
I found this on this post on Carpe Diem, an econ blog run by a UM-Flint professor.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
- It is really fast. I'm not talking about 'yeah, I think it seems a bit faster than Firefox and IE,' I'm talking about a very obvious, very marked difference in performance. The first visit to a busy page like cnn.com and it's very apparent that it renders much faster than my normal browser (Firefox 3). The one process per tab approach is going to be a welcome change, as well.
- It seems stable, despite the 0.2.x version label. I haven't had any crashes yet so far. I suppose this makes sense, as Brandon tells me that they internally eat dog food like this for a long time before it's even released in a beta form like this.
- Rendering incompatibility seems very rare. I know that Guidewire applications won't render perfectly in Chrome as of yet (people were quick to satisfy that curiosity), but I have yet to come across any of my normal daily sites that showed obvious rendering issues. I suppose this shouldn't be a huge surprise either, being based on an established engine (WebKit). I'd think that it's site compatibility would be roughly equal to (or if they've done extra work, better than) what is seen in Apple Safari (also WebKit based). I read on a site earlier today that Google has internally built a site compatibility test harness that runs against the top several thousand most popular sites (and if anyone would have that data, it'd be Google!) and farms this testing out across Google machine clusters, allowing them to test on the order of 10,000 sites on a brand new build within 20-30 minutes. Pretty sweet.
Basically, they found:
The finding is striking because it not only links the gene variant -- which is present in two of every five men -- with the risk of marital discord and divorce, but also appears to predict whether women involved with these men are likely to say their partners are emotionally close and available, or distant and disagreeable. The presence of the gene variant, or allele, also seems predictive of whether men get married or live with women without getting married.
"Men with two copies of the allele had twice the risk of experiencing marital dysfunction, with a threat of divorce during the last year, compared to men carrying one or no copies," said Hasse Walum, a behavioral geneticist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm who led the study. "Women married to men with one or two copies of the allele scored lower on average on how satisfied they were with the relationship compared to women married to men with no copies."
Interesting! Biology is not destiny, but I smell a new bullet point in the list of mitigating circumstances in future divorce court proceedings!
I didn't have any way to bring my camera along, but Patrick, Bethany, and Carie were hanging out on the outside bar at the Stephen F. Austin. Bethany had a camera, and snapped a few pictures.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I used to ride the shorter distances (10 and 25) when I lived in Wichita Falls in elementary school. Since living in Austin, I've been going back and doing the full hundred. I think that this weekend was probably my fifth (maybe fourth?) time doing the hundred. It was probably typical as far as elapsed time: 5:44 (17.6 mph average). Much slower than my best there (5:01, 20.1 mph average), although it was unusually cool that year (80s). This year was pretty standard temperature wise (upper 90s), with perhaps a bit more wind than normal (or at least than I remember). The local Wichita Falls paper has a story with much better pictures than I'll paste below: Helluva race
Colleen and I stopped on the bridge right after the start, keeping an eye out for Austin on his handbike.
Friday, August 22, 2008
A university study in Italy has another angle: 'hyper-sexual' women. Apparently, the same gene that causes men to like men also causes women to like men, leading to more children. Full story here: Bisexuality passed on by 'hyper-heterosexuals'
In other words, he has not put forward any plan to address Medicare (and its less-challenging fellow traveler, SS) growth explosion. (Then again, I don't think anyone thinks McCain has any plan where the numbers add up, either.)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
It's worth reading. The weak point: the author's barely veiled adulation for his subject. The critical statements he makes are about as aggressive as a Larry King interview (made worse yet by omitting large swathes of well-known policy critiques made by others).
Monday, August 11, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
I found it by hitting upon a discussion on addressing entitlement spending that ended in late July: 'Can we afford our entitlement promises? How close is the cliff?' It seems like a pretty worthwhile site with a good mix of participants...
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Houston's great advantage, it turns out, is its ability to provide affordable living for middle-income Americans, something that is increasingly hard to achieve in the Big Apple. That Houston is a middle-class city is mirrored in the nature of its economy. Both greater Houston and Manhattan have about 2 million employees.
Basically: unless you are extremely wealthy, you can't live too big in NYC. Recent immigrants in NYC have a very low standard of living by American standards, but generally still well above what it was where they emigrated from. If you're a run of the mill native American with a 'normal' middle class job, your dollar stretches much farther in the home of The Geto Boys.
I'm typing this from the airport in Idaho Falls (about to fly back home), but it is my first time in either place.
The landscape was a good bit hillier than I expected. This is the view from the customer's parking lot:
The people were all very friendly. The housekeeping staff at the hotel left messages like this:
We finished early, so I also drove into town to see Idaho State. I took these quick pictures there as well:
Friday, August 01, 2008
Humanities and social science fields tend to have higher politically correct rankings, while professional and science disciplines do not.
Mankiw summarized some of the most-PC and least-PC majors as follows (yay CS):
The most PC: Psychology, Sociology, English, History, Elementary education
The least PC: Criminal justice, Economics, Marketing, Accounting, Computer science, Biology, Finance, Management information, Mechanical engineering, Electrical engineering
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
The article also links to a study listing Flint as the third most violent city in the US. Go Flint! Edged out by Detroit (#1) and Saint Louis (#2) this time..
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
code_swarm - Python from Michael Ogawa on Vimeo.
Monday, July 07, 2008
4. Slave agriculture was not inefficient compared with free agriculture. Economies of large-scale operation, effective management, and intensive utilization of labor and capital made southern slave agriculture 35 percent more efficient than the northern system of factory farming.
6. The course of slavery in the cities does not prove that slavery was incompatible with an industrial system or that slaves were unable to cope with an industrial regimen. Slaves employed in industry compared favorably with free workers in diligence and efficiency. Far from declining, the demand for slaves was actually increasing more rapidly in urban areas than in the countryside.
8. The material (not psychological) conditions of the lives of slaves compared favorably with those of free industrial workers. This is not to say that they were good by modern standards. It merely emphasizes the hard lot of all workers, free or slave, during the first half of the nineteenth century.
Friday, June 27, 2008
The full title is The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 4, Fascicle 0: Introduction to Combinatorial Algorithms and Boolean Functions. Another cool book to buy and only partially comprehend...
Monday, June 23, 2008
The full quote should be read over at the MR post where I saw this story, but one bit that I found interesting:
At the start of the 1990s, 57 percent of twenty-one-year-old men in Northern Thailand trooped off to the brothel to do their philandering. More than half the sex workers who soaked up their excess energy were HIV-infected....
In an effort to try to win the most golds at the Olympics, they spend extra recruitment efforts on sports that have a large number of medals awarded (like swimming). I'd be curious as to how much doping they have going on now; the 1990s Chinese women's swimming team was particularly blatant: only good in sprint events, deep voices, acne, and hugely discontinuous drops in time (and a men's team that wasn't even on the radar). Actually failing drug tests a ton of times surely adds some support to the view of widespread, East German-style doping at the time.
There was even an interesting bit about Chinese ping pong dominance (and how it came to be):
Consider the country's decades-long dominance of table tennis. This supremacy had little to do with a national passion for wooden paddles and plastic balls. China decided to develop star paddlers largely because the International Table Tennis Federation was, in 1953, one of the first sports organizations to drop ties with Taiwan in favor of the mainland. In 1959, Rong Guotuan made history as China's first world champion in any sport. Mao deemed the victory a "spiritual nuclear weapon." Determined to maintain Ping-Pong supremacy, coaches fanned out across the countryside looking for kindergartners with quick reflexes and superior hand-eye coordination. "Other countries have produced some really good table-tennis players," says Liu Fengyan, director of China's table-tennis administrative center. "But without a sports system like China's, their success ends when those athletes retire."
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Here is are the numbers, from a new Brookings/Urban Institute study:
...compared to current policy, Senator McCain would cut taxes by $628 b. over the next 10 years and that Senator Obama would raise them by $734 b. over the same period. Most of Senator McCains cuts go to middle and high income individuals, while most of Senator Obama's cuts would go to low and middle income individuals.
It goes on to say that Obama's tax raise may be markedly higher than the 734, since he has repeatedly proposed completely eliminating the current $250k income limit cap on payroll taxes (which would amount to a huge hike for high earners). He's also denied this at various points...so the study worked up his numbers without this change. The full post referenced at Capital Gains and Games is here.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
I planned on doing the 80 mile route (they sometimes listed it as 85...and their own GPS-published version of the map shows it as 77-something). That didn't happen: the ride started late, I blew some time with a flat around mile 14 or so, and the hills sure didn't speed me along. While waiting to refill my water bottles at rest stop two (and later searching for a full size pump, in vain), a ride worker runs around yelling "if you are going to do the 80 mile route, you have to leave within the next minute and a half!!" I looked around and saw a bunch of people in the drink line basically shrug like 'oh well, darn ;)'. So, everyone left was shunted to the 65 mile route.
It was a pretty nice ride, and basically what I was guessing it would be: pretty hilly and scenic. Blanco is about 20 minutes south of Johnson City, straight down 281. If you've driven to San Antonio via 281 before: that hilly stuff you drive through along the way was the sort of landscape for this ride. It was mostly rural FM/RM county roads running alongside ranches with wandering cattle. I took these photos from just before the 50 mile stop:
I should have taken some earlier in the ride, where it was particularly hilly (mile 9 sticks out, as does 36/37). 9 was abrupt and steep, while the 36/37 was loooong and sustained climbing. All of the extra pounds I was carrying with me were particularly unwelcome on that second hill!
I actually got a second flat right after the long climb, at the 40 mile rest stop. It was kind of bizarre: after my 14 mile flat, I used a CO2 inflator to get my tire up to about 100 psi. I'd looked for a full size pump at the 25 mile stop to try to top it off to 110-120, but couldn't find one. I did find one at the 40 mile stop, and proceeded to pump up to about 120. I propped my bike up against a fence, and went to refill my water bottles. While I was in line, I heard a loud pop...loud enough that everyone turned to see what it was. It was my bike, still over by the fence. It seems that I must have had a pinch right by the valve stem when I changed the last flat, and ha ridden with that pinch from 14-40..and the extra inflation up to 120 was enough to push it over a threshold and pop it. The tire was totally off the rim near the valve stem when I went to see what had happened. Luckily, the Bicycle Sport Shop van was at the stop at this point, and so I was promptly hooked up with a free tube (I'd only brought one, using it for the 14 mile flat) and use of a full size pump. The mechanic also was kind enough to slightly adjust one a limit screw after I inquired about a bit of clicking I heard in my small ring (but not the big) -- that fixed it.
The ride finishes right at the Real Ale brewery (where it started). Each rider gets 2 Real Ale beers of their choice, as well as BBQ catered by Riley's. The food was good, as was the beer. The only minus here was the lack of throughput on the food line; it kind of sucks to finish a ride like that and then wait in a 45 minute long line in a very hot (99 for the high in Austin, not sure what it was there) parking lot with no shade. There were about 1400 riders; maybe I happened to be going through the line around a peak time.
I ran into Jane Bui and Roman when I was there (right at the start, and then again after finishing my BBQ). Didn't see any other familiar faces, though. I did see a Circle C Ranch Cycling Club jersey, though (kept running into the same guy).
This was also the first long ride for my new saddle, the Koobi PRS Alpha. So far, so good -- pretty comfortable, and not broken in at all yet. Two other things got their first long-ride exposure: the Polar F11 that I got for Christmas (worked great, very comfortable strap) and some BodyGlide (no complaints here; definitely worth a try after the MS150 experience!).
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
In 1976, CAB Chairman John Robson pushed to “experiment” with price competition, and Continental was allowed to lower its intra-Texas fares to match and even undercut Southwest’s. Incidentally, Southwest introduced a two-tiered pricing structure… $13 each way fares matching Continental and $26 business fares which included a free fifth of alcohol. I vaguely recall Southwest becoming the largest liquor distributor in the state of Texas in 1977.
The rebuttal is worth reading. Posner's commentary is generally quite good, but he gets ripped hard by Mr. Leff. It sounds like Posner was commenting on an industry for which he doesn't have his normal depth of background (Leff calls him out for overtly false historical assertions left and right). Becker's commentary on the same topic differs a good bit from Posner's as well.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Reason has a post commenting on a NYT piece today studying this issue. All of this is likely followup interest after the news the other week that 1 in 100 adults in the US are incarcerated (or some similar stat). It finds that we are not at the the top of the list among industrialized countries for the rate at which we imprison people; it is in how long we keep them there that we are the outlier. We do imprison more people for drug offenses, but we keep people in much longer for 'regular' crimes as well (owing to minimum sentencing laws). For example:
Burglars in the United States serve an average of 16 months in prison, according to Mr. Mauer, compared with 5 months in Canada and 7 months in England.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I have a hard time seeing how the introduction of such a feature in the US wouldn't result in cries of racial profiling (even if it was digesting raw geographically-tagged government crime rate statistics).
Monday, April 21, 2008
The interesting part is the thesis of Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz: that basically people have slowed down the rate of increase of years of schooling, leading to more scarcity of the most qualified people. They assert that the latest crop of highest end jobs are -- like most 'new' jobs in recent decades -- knoweldge worker jobs, and that people have not ramped their education as fast as the switch-to-knowledge move in jobs has occurred.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The part that made me chuckle most was this section of her post:
3) The moral panic also extends to people who meet those needs: we view paycheck lenders as in broadly the same class as pimps, casino owners, and drug dealers. Particularly disturbing seems to be the notion that people make profits providing money to the poor. Yet there's little evidence that payday lenders make especially high profits; even non-profits who try to get into the business have found themselves charging interest rates they previously regarded as usurious. Poor people are, in fact, poor lending risks; the high interest rate compensates for the high default rate.
..when followed by this comment:
I find it odd that if you offer loans with high interest rates to Bangladeshis, you win the Nobel peace prize. If you do the same for... name your far more local constituency... you get vilified.
(Glances in the direction of Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank...)
I didn't know know what he had gone on to; apparently he's now the dean of Howard Law School. I saw an editorial yesterday that he has on drug control policy in everyone's favorite story-fabricating magazine. The commentary itself is pretty standard fare: stop going hard on minor offenders, expand the use and number of drug courts to deal with those minor offenders, and focus more heavily on it from a medical addiction angle. He does hint that he thinks you won't fully solve it until it is not a highly profitable underground enterprise -- advocating legalization, in other words -- but says that you have to take incremental steps first.
I remembered he raised some controversy years ago when he publicly advocated decriminalization. I've always wondered if that was partially the inspiration for the character of Bunny Colvin in Season 3 of the fabulous show The Wire (my favorite show, until it ended recently) and his experiment with a drug free for all zone ('Hamsterdam').
I was in Hartford, CT last week for a trip to Travelers. I was to fly home Thursday night, with plenty of time to board the 4:30 PM MS150 Houston to Austin bus (they also transport your luggage and bike). When I got to Hartford Bradley to fly home, it seemed that my return (on Delta) through Cincinnati was delayed. The problem: all of the AA cancellations had resulted in all available slots being filled, so there was nothing left to rebook me on for a later Cincinnati->Austin flight.
Delta initially told me they couldn't get me home before Saturday night. This was a problem, as I'd totally miss the Friday bus, and the ride itself was starting early Saturday morning, in Houston. After a long time on the phone with Delta rebooking, they found a solution: stay the night in Hartford, then leave on a 6 AM to Cincinnati, then to Salt Lake City, then directly to Houston. Jen was able to come to my house and pack up my gear and get my bike, getting it in Amar's hands at the bus departure point on Friday.
It was a bit worse than this: I had picked up my ride packet on the way to the airport, so my packet (a required item) was in my car...at the Austin Fast Park location at the airport. Jen didn't have a way of checking her mail to see where I was parked (she was at my place, sans computer), so she ended up having to drive the rows at Fast Park until she found my car.
She managed to do all of this (I owe her big) and get it on the bus. My flights were miraculously not delayed at all, and I made it to Houston. I was able to grab a SuperShuttle over to the Rouse's (where my group was staying; Andy Rouse's parents' house...conveniently near Tully Stadium).
Here is what the start looked like at Tully Stadium (one of three possible starting locations):
Here is Chocolate Thunder, fired up to get going:
The riding on day 1 was pretty brutual. A front had come through, and as a result, we were riding into heavy (probably 20-30 mph) sustained headwinds...all day long. My lips are still so cracked and chapped from the wind that I'm bleeding every time I eat!
We did have a bad turn early in day 1: very shortly after the 25 mile stop (within sight of it, even), Amar wiped out. I was riding immediately behind him, and couldn't get left or right quickly enough, so I went down too. Andy was immediately behind me...and crashed as well.
I ended up with just a few scrapes, and (as far as I can tell) no damage to my bike. Andy may have very slightly knocked one wheel out of true, but it seems they fixed that at the 25 mile stop that the SAG wagon took them to afterward. Amar, though, had it rough: not only did he have to replace both of his wheels, but he also broke his collarbone! They didn't know this right away, and it wasn't until he rode to the next stop (about 10 miles) on his new wheels that he went to another medical tent and had EMS come. They took him to the hospital, where the broken collarbone was confirmed in x-rays. His right arm is in a sling for the next 4-6 weeks! Might be kind of hard to drive (both Amar and Kim drive sticks)...
We didn't know a bunch of this until much later in the day. We hung out at lunch for a good while while some of this was being sorted out. Being on a team has its pluses: see my team lunch spot (a 4-H pavilion):
Blue Bell was even giving out mini ice cream sandwiches there:
I had three.
The ride itself was pretty picturesque in places, like this field of wildflowers:
We even have Texas pride in our windmills:
Day 1 ends in La Grange, Texas. It was a madhouse: whereas the three starting points (and plenty of people leaving from hotel parking lots and such) earlier in the day resulted in a few thousand at each spot, the entire ~13,000 assembly of riders were present in La Grange. They brought giant temporary shower equipment in, and were even busing people to the nearest middle school to shower as well (the route I took). They had dinner for everyone at night, and breakfast in the morning. Various bike shops set up little covered mini-shops to sell tons of energy gels, tubes, and that sort of thing...as well as more than a bit of clothing. Later in the day, we heard that it was going to be in the low-mid 40s at the start of the next day, and most people just had regular short and jerseys. I think I was a bit behind the curve here: by the time I went to try to find a long sleeve jersey or base layer, pretty much everything of that sort in a men's large was sold out. I finally lucked out and got the very last men's large of an overpriced (but warmer than expected) Sugoi Helium windbreaker in red (err, sorry, 'Matador'). People were even cutting up garbage bags and taping segments of the plastic around their legs to stay warm early in the ride.
I wore a sleeveless jersey underneath my St. David's team jersey, with the new jacket over it all. I was pretty cold, but it was tolerable. Best of all, the wind was way down at the start of day 2: it was probably 5 mph tops. Around lunch, it picked up, and we were riding in pretty steady (10-15 mph?) winds the rest of the day. It was hugely better than Saturday though. We rode smarter on Sunday as well: Drew, Andy, Nate, and myself kept a tight pace line from lunch onward, and we were hauling ass (at least as compared to earlier in the day, and especially compared to Saturday). My knees were hurting a good bit by the end, and anything above about 3 hours in the saddle causes my lovely pair of torn discs to make their presence known, but it ended up not too bad. I expect we'll be back next year -- hopefully with our suave Indian mascot along for the entire ride this time.
I saw this as a link off of Marginal Revolution; there are a ton of comments there as well. The part people in the comments (and in Tyler's story itself) seem to gloss over is that even the people trumpting the breakthrough say it's a good three or so years from availability and (more importantly) major pharma companies do not expect it to be particularly profitable, and so are sitting on the sidelines at the moment.
The piece is worth reading (as are pretty much all of his essays), although it does have a bit of a "I'm a badass OG, and so are my friends, and today's smart guys are going for the safe and easy" feel to it. It feels related to condescension, but not quite the same thing. Still, the commentary and advice are worthwhile and interesting.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
When I hit a particularly rough road in Texas, it's rare enough that it really stands out. I always forget how common really potholed, cracked roads are back up in Michigan. Ones like this:
If I had to pick a day to not be on American (where all of my miles live), today was probably as good a day as any, though. It looks like American has had to cancel a ton of flights today as it brought MD-80s (what I am overwhelmingly flying on with them) out of service to inspect wiring harnesses.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Economic growth means that some women have higher human capital than others and thus they are better suited at producing and rearing high quality children. Wealthy men with lots of human capital will start to bid for these women and they will have to offer them exclusive status; these men also wish to invest in a smaller number of higher quality children.
In other words, male inequality encourages polygamy while female inequality discourages it. Apparently female inequality has been winning that race.
The hypothesis also helps explain why polygamy unravels so decisively at some point. Since monogamy itself encourages children (including daughters) with higher human capital, initial tendencies toward monogamy are self-reinforcing.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Not all posts there specifically cite things that white people like. For a consolidated list of those posts, you can see this list.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
I need to keep dropping; the absence of weight will be definitely felt if I make it through the lottery for RAGBRAI.
The net result of this product offering strategy is that the US manufacturers offer for sale (and thus must be able to build) many more variants of their vehicles than their foreign competitors, leading to additional complexity in the manufacturing arena. Every so often (every new CEO, every new PD head, etc.), the US manufacturers say that they are going to reduce the complexity of their offerings (more closely mimicking the Asians) as a route to cost savings via reduced a engineering and manufacturing burden. The referenced link shows that they're talking about it again; they are targeting a 99% reduction in the offered permutations ('buildables') of the meaningful features on the vehicle for the 2009 Focus, for example.
I'm sure some would view this as 'bad', since it is reducing the choices available to customers of Ford/GM/Chrysler. However, just because those choices are available does not mean that people actually make use of them. Just because the F-150 is offered in a zillion ways, there really a small handful of common configurations that people ordering the F-150 as a work truck end up settling on. Similar clusters of configurations hold true for other use cases for the F-150 (and for every other such vehicle).
Back when I worked on a team dealing with Ford's global product definition (1999-2007), this was definitely the case. I was able to empirically verify this for specific vehicles, using data and configuration functionality available within our system. One quick study done out of curiosity used data for the Transit (a European market commercial van; you can see Sabine Schmidt drive one around the Nurburgring at this YouTube video). I had our system enumerate all buildable combinations of the 'defining features' (all of the important feature families in the vehicle: 'transmissions' is one such feature family, for example...'engines' is another) on the vehicle. Then, we took historical sales data (represented by a list of specific vehicle combinations for that given calendar year) and binned each of those against the theoretical possible buildables. The finding: something like 99%+ of the buildables had no sales volume. Of the tiny percent that had any actual sales associated with them, a tiny handful of that tiny handful accounted for nearly all of the sales. Being a commerical vehicle (commerical vehicles tend to have more options) offered in many markets, the Transit has more buildables and thus more complexity than most. However, the same story is true for all of the vehicles: more choices are offered than actual customer purchases seem to ever merit.
Monday, March 31, 2008
A post I saw yesterday (I think at Marginal Revolution) points to a new study that says that while there was ample statistical evidence backing premarital cohabitation being a bad thing, its effect has lessened with time. In fact, it says that in the most recent data available, there no longer seems to be a negative affect to shacking up early!
Sunday, March 30, 2008
The video reportedly depicts Mosley engaging the services of five prostitutes in London to stage a perverse reenactment of a Nazi concentration camp in which Mosley plays both victim and oppressor, alternately receiving lashes from a dominatrix and barking orders in German to the prostitutes dressed in pseudo-Auschwitz uniforms.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Reviewing Brooks' book in the Texas Review of Law & Politics, Justice Willett notes that Austin -- it voted 56 percent for Kerry while he was getting just 38 percent statewide -- is ranked by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as 48th out of America's 50 largest cities in per capita charitable giving.
There is a lot more in the article, expanding this to talk about patterns seen nationwide.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
While Obama has the most worrisome voting record, the first two bullet points in Hillary's list should scare anyone (well, anyone who isn't currently the holder of an inflating interest-only mortgage).
Monday, March 24, 2008
It is a mix of history and opinion (albeit heavily fact-supported opinion), grouped into chapters that dive deeply into affirmative action programs (original motivations as well as results to date) in several countries: India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and the US.
I was already familiar with a bunch of the data on the US situation (results as well as the data immediately leading up to its implementation), but I knew much less about affirmative action programs in the other countries mentioned. Read the book for the full story, but nearly every case involved plenty of:
- Good intentions gone awry
- Programs meant to be temporary far outliving the originally-envisioned duration
- Everyone completely disregarding the law of unintended consequences
It was a good monitor in its day, but it didn't owe me anything at this point. Plus, it is huge: I had to keep it on the corner of an L shaped desk, as it was so deep that I could not fit the monitor and the keyboard on a non-corner section.
I wanted to finally get a nice flat panel. Given that I'd likely have it for years, I thought it would be justified to get something nicer than the super-discount-of-the-week TN-based unit. The Dell 240x series has always been well regarded, and so I was looking at the 2407 and 2407-HC (the wide gamut version of the 2407). They apparently have some ghosting issues, however. I had friends with 2405's, but nobody with a 2407. Dell then announced a 2408 at CES in January, so I thought I'd wait until it went up for sale and the reviews started pouring in.
It's taken a while, but it finally became generally available in the past few weeks. It's an S-PVA panel (like the previous 240x units), with some evolutionary improvements in its capabilities (spec sheet here). The forum posts that started popping up were generally pretty positive: it seemed very well rounded, with a lack of the obvious ghosting some found in the 2407-HC. The one complaint is that it has pretty substantial display lag (40-50 ms), but this won't bother a non-gamer like me.
I finally decided to get one after finding the first large review heavy on quantitatives here. I ordered it while in Japan, and it showed up even before I got back. Despite picking free 3-5 day shipping, it was delivered at my house the following day. I'm typing on it now. Next up: figuring out if my Latitude D620 is actually limited to only 1600x1200 on DVI, as its specs seem to suggest (1600x1200 DVI, 2048x1536 analog). This would be annoying, as this panel's target resolution is 1920x1200 (driving that via analog now).
Thursday, March 13, 2008
According to a survey by Russ Alan Prince, president of Connecticut-based wealth-research firm Prince & Associates, in his book “The Sky’s The Limit,” a sizable percentage of the super wealthy use escorts. He surveyed 661 people who owned private jets. It found that 34% of males and 20% of females had paid for sex.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
You can click on that above embedded link, but I found it unusably small to read the text. Instead, it's much easier if you follow this link to view the Google Docs presentation at full size: The Subprime Primer
Apparently, Norwegian stick figures have hats that make them look like Canadian Mounties.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I came across a link at Yahoo Music a few minutes ago talking about how one of the contestants already had a deal in the past. I clicked it, thinking I'd get the full story on the Cook girl..but no, it turned out to be about Carly, the Irish girl with tons of tats.
In the comments on that Yahoo Music page, I saw a link to a whole other page. This page details all of the Top 24's past brushes with commercial success (or lack thereof)...there are a lot of contestants who aren't exactly out of the blue, never seen before talent.
Here is a bunch (22 oz, if I recall) of El Rey, waiting to be melted down:
Of course, there were a ton of eggs (copious amounts of heavy cream not pictured):
A whole bunch of lime zest (I hate zesting!) mixed in -- it ended up looking like chives!
And of course, the ingredient most people cared about:
Finally, assembling them at the party: sugaring the glass rims, putting in a dollop of mousse, and topping with a candied lime slice.
And no, I have no idea why I forgot to take a picture of a finished one!
Jen found an awesome recipe on allrecipes that came out just right: Crab-Stuffed Filet Mignon with Whiskey Peppercorn Sauce. I should have taken pictures. Anyway, it came out great, although we now agree with the people who commented on the recipe, stating that the listed duration is pretty optimistic. We were pretty close: I think it took us about 2 hours, and that included me running out to Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up a large cast-iron skillet (somehow I didn't own one yet). I thought I'd find a bunch of Lodge cast iron stuff at L&T and BBB...but no! It seems cast iron is more scarce than I thought: L&T only had an Emeril cast iron square grill that was only available as a freebie when purchasing a whole Emeril set. I ended up finding the same item for sale separately at BBB (but still no Lodge). Cheap, in any case: $20 for a 10" skillet, $25 for the square grill version of the same thing.
We also made a spinach salad that we make often (toasted pumpkin seeds, red onion, dried tart cherries, and -- this time -- avocado (normally peppered goat cheese, but I forgot to pick it up), all in an oil and dijon dressing.
I also got out a nice Chateauneuf du Pape that I'd had on the rack for years. I tried to bring it to my birthday dinner at The Driskill this year, but they don't allow corkage anymore. It turned out to have mellowed nicely. It was a 1996 Paul Coulon et Fils 'Boisrenard':
I then mentioned that I had a hankering for ice cream, and was about to grab some vanilla out of the freezer. Jen told me no, and made me go read at the computer for 'about 10 minutes'. When she called me back in, this was on the counter:
It is a chocolate ginger bundt cake with a bourbon sauce on top and was damn good. I had forwarded this recipe along months ago when I first saw it, and I guess Jen filed it away for later use! All of the flower petals around it for decoration were apparently courtesy of Matt (apparently he had some fading tulips at his place...maybe from the big weekend prior? ;)