30 Jan 2009 @ 2:50 PM 

Check out the Galileoscope – it’s an attempt by the International Year of Astronomy to create a $10 telescope that can resolve the rings of Saturn.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 01 Sep 2009 @ 10:15 AM

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Categories: asides, Education, Geek, Science
 30 Jan 2009 @ 8:04 AM 

The CBO analysis of the stimulus is available online. If you really want to know what the impact of the stimulus may be, read it for yourself. Don’t believe whatever talking heads say. Especially don’t believe what they said last week, before the analysis had been released. Lying bastards. It’s true that the CBO says much of the money won’t be spent in federal fiscal year 2009. If you think about it for a few seconds, you’d realize this is blatantly obvious. FY 2009 started in October, so it’ll be about one-third over before the bill becomes law. Then, it still takes time for things to get moving. The “quick” moves won’t be able to add money to the economy until April, half-way into the fiscal year. A multi-year stimulus which has a lower impact in a 6-month “year” than in the following 12-month year?  SHOCKING! A quote from the NY Times seems to be aghast that it may take a few months to a year to get some construction projects moving. Yeah, well…have you seen how long it takes to complete or even plan major construction projects? Boston could tell you.

One thing the CBO won’t tell you, quite explicitly denoted on the front page of their report, is what return on investment we can expect for each provision, or the bill as a whole.  No matter what Marie Cocco says, the CBO doesn’t make those predictions. But, most economists agree that tax cuts (while nice and I’ll take any money the government sees fit to give back to me) are not as effective as you might think.  Turns out, most of us actually save some of that money when we get it, rather than immediately spend every dime.  One typical comment:

“People are going to spend 30, 40 cents on the dollar, so the multiplier is going to be low,” said Adam S. Posen, deputy director of the Peterson Institute of International Economics.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 30 Jan 2009 @ 09:55 AM

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Categories: Economics, News, Political
 28 Jan 2009 @ 8:36 PM 

Have I mentioned we have a kitten? She moved in early in December.

(The Youtube version seems to not work for no reason I can tell, and their support staff is ignoring me. Thankfully, Multiply works just fine.)

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 30 Jan 2009 @ 05:04 PM

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Categories: Home, Journal, Personal
 28 Jan 2009 @ 8:34 PM 

So, according to the vast majority of respected economists, including those with Nobel prizes, the stimulus might work, but it might be too late for anything to make things better in the short term.  Even Christina Romer (President Obama’s economic adviser) thinks the stimulus will only slow the growth rate of the unemployment rate in the near term, bringing it back down in two years. But, they all agree that to do nothing is definitely not going to do anything of value.


“We have very few good examples to guide us,” said William G. Gale, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the liberal-leaning research organization. “I don’t know of any convincing evidence that what has been proposed is going to be enough.”

Christina Romer, whom Mr. Obama has designated to be his chief economist, concluded in research she helped write in 1994 that interest-rate policy is the most powerful force in economic recoveries and that fiscal stimulus generally acts too slowly to be of much help in pulling the economy out of recessions, though associates said she now supports a big stimulus package if policy makers roll it out early enough in the recession.

Adam Posen, the deputy director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said Mr. Obama’s plan could provide just the right boost — if it was carried out properly.

Alan J. Auerbach, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, said the overall scale of the program looked “reasonable” at $800 billion over two years.

“It’s much bigger than anything that’s been tried in my lifetime, but this is scarier than anything we’ve seen in my lifetime,” Professor Auerbach said.

For those who point out that Romer once said that throwing money at a recession doesn’t work – no.  You’re wrong, that’s not what she said.  She said that monetary policy is better to use than fiscal policy. Unfortunately, the interest rates are at zero now, so there is no more room for monetary policy. Fiscal policy is what we have available, so that’s what we’re stuck with.

For those who think that tax cuts or tax rebates are better than paying for infrastructure buildouts – no.  You’re wrong, and almost no economist agrees with you.

Mark M. Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, a forecasting firm, told a forum of House Democrats this week that the “bang for the buck” — the additional economic activity generated by each dollar of fiscal stimulus — was highest for increases in food and unemployment benefits. Each dollar of additional money for food stamps yields $1.73 in additional economic activity, Mr. Zandi estimated, and each extra dollar in unemployment benefits yields about $1.63.

By contrast, Mr. Zandi estimated, most tax cuts produce less than a dollar for each dollar of stimulus, especially if the tax cuts are temporary, because people save at least some of their extra money.

Joel Slemrod, a professor of tax policy at the University of Michigan, said, “The research I’ve done on the 2001 and 2008 tax rebates suggests that the proportion of the rebates that went to spending was rather small, about one-third.”

I look forward to more random people throwing up logical fallacies. How about, “argument from personal incredulity?” That’s always a good one. After all, if something doesn’t make sense to you, I’m sure that highly trained economists have spent no time at all on it and it’s all just a guess to them too. Over 140 economists, including 5 Nobel Prize winners, support the stimulus package.  If you want to convince me of your point of view, bring more expert opinion than that.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 28 Jan 2009 @ 09:17 PM

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Categories: Economics, Political
 19 Jan 2009 @ 6:33 PM 

Scenes from the Great Lazer Tag Massacre of 2009.

This is what passes for tactics in third grade:


Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 19 Jan 2009 @ 06:33 PM

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Categories: Journal, Personal, The Boy
 17 Jan 2009 @ 4:18 PM 

I was behind a Hummer H2 today and noticed it had tie-down points.  WTF?  Is someone sling-loading these things below a Chinook?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 17 Jan 2009 @ 04:18 PM

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Categories: asides, Funny Stuff
 14 Jan 2009 @ 7:22 PM 

‘Fantasy Island’ star Ricardo Montalban died this morning.  One of the most surreal memories I have of Montalban was in 1994.  Driving around the desert of southeastern Arizona in a friend’s sports car (incredibly unwise in an Arizona August), listening to Ricardo Montalban on the radio. Montalban was reciting the history of the border region, including the phrase indelibly etched in my brain, “The seven cities of Cibola,” in that rich baritone.

Goodbye, Mr. Roark.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 14 Jan 2009 @ 07:22 PM

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Categories: Entertainment
 12 Jan 2009 @ 12:24 PM 

I noticed in yesterday’s Best Buy ad a neat thing – the Acer Aspire One on sale.  Since I have no money right now, I am only window shopping for new toys.  In addition, I’ve always felt that certain personal technology must be seen and held before purchasing. This worked for me quite well, when I fell in love with the Sony Clie clamshell doodad (which The Boy has inherited with its new battery) way back when, and I stay firmly committed to this concept. I can’t imagine buying a laptop or MP3 player or cell phone (well, cell phone I can’t imagine at all) without first being able to handle the item. Some things are just too personal to be left to online research.

Anyway, back to Best Buy. I went to the store, and looked at the MP3 players for a bit, fending off three salespeople (my Sansa got dropped and now the headphone jack only works if you hold the plug at an unnatural angle). Then, I wandered over to the laptop zone, hoping to see a fabled netbook in the wild. I’ve already seen the Aspire One (a friend owns one), but the sheer novelty of one of the stores in this [expletive] town finally taking notice of the biggest trend in portable computing in years…well, I had to see where they had hidden the machine. It turns out, they hid it in some other store, because there was not one hint of the presence of the Aspire One nor any other netbook. So far, the only place in this [expletive] town I’ve seen a netbook actually for sale in the store is Target. We have an Office Depot, Office Max, and a Best Buy, and not one of those technology stores has seen fit to stock any netbooks at all. Nuts.

I wonder if the Sony Vaio P will end up in one of the local stores. I’m doubting it.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Jan 2009 @ 12:28 PM

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Categories: Geek, Stupid People
 01 Jan 2009 @ 10:33 PM 

First of all- I am not whom you would assume… This is the “Woman.” I was going to holiday hijack this blog in order to post sweet somethings for and about the man who brings me such happiness, but I am woefully and willingly computer ignorant. So when I hung my head low and told him the error in my espionage, he created an account for me. Only now am I prepared to woo.
Worse than my technical geekery however was the mantra I’d like to address, which I foolishly lived by for 15 years: Relationships are hard. The succinct point I’d like to make on this virgin post is that they do not have to be difficult whatsoever. We are the blissfully happy and content proof. The cracked foundations of past entanglements left me weary and paranoid that I would become another victim of my own broken wisdom. Thankfully I have been proved wrong. No arguments. No disagreements. No eggshells whatsoever. I don’t believe in luck, karma or soulmates, but I know my life has changed. Here’s to another great year!

Posted By: Kat
Last Edit: 06 Jul 2011 @ 03:02 PM

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Categories: Personal, The Woman

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