31 August 2006

Nice pic... correction, nice pixels

I was looking for a picture to put up as my laptop background. I found this Cessna 172 Skyhawk. It's a beautiful picture. Look closer. I've had it for two days and I just realized that it is a computer graphic. Granted I picked it from a google thumb nail photo and never looked at it closely until now... wow.

30 August 2006

Washington D.C. vs. Rio de Janeiro: Metro Style, Part I

Rio de Janeiro has a very modern metro system, newer and nicer than the D.C. Metro. However, my concern here is with ticket price. The price structure of the Rio MetrĂ´ is very simple, basically $1 and change for a one way ticket to any station. This is quite different from D.C. Metro which has a price based on distance and time of the ride.

Like the D.C. Metro system, the Rio MetrĂ´ system is run and subsidized by the government. However, to the extent that passengers are paying the operating costs of the train through their ticket purchase, in the Rio system the passengers taking short trips are subsidizing those taking longer trips, which pressumably cost more to complete. This is somewhat unfortunate, because the last stop in rio is Copacabana, a relatively affluent area in Rio. The wealthy here often work in Centro, a long trip, yet they pay the same amount as the poorer passengers that live closer to Centro.

Of course, that is an over-simplification. Some very poor people who live way north of Centro come in to Copacabana to work the beach (although many come from Rocinha and local Favelas). These workers are getting a relatively cheap fare. However, when you are making $1 an hour or so, paying $2 a day on trasportation is a huge cut of your pay, again this is why many of the workers don't travel long distances unless they have a better paying job.

So why not just make the metro free? Two reasons I can think of

1. It will be over-used and probably overwhelming by the poor. Those who contribute a lot to the economy (e.g., the workers going to Centro) will be less inclined to ride the crowded metro system.

2. Unstainable. Brazil's economy is growing but transportation is not the biggest problem. Therefore allocating more money to an expensive project that only benefits a relative few is a BAD idea. Additionally, the citizenry will demand that bus transportion be free. Costly, and will hurt taxi drivers and private (illegal?) bus services.

More on how D.C. metro pricing is better... in Part II

29 August 2006

If you don't wear 'em, you won't get it.

Have you ever walked into a meeting and noticed that all the participants were wearing glasses? Is there any difference between these meetings and others? With the wide spread use of contact lenses and laser vision correction this is becoming an increasingly rare event, but there are still many who choose to (or must) wear the old headgear. I doubt if 10,000 years ago half of these people, perhaps especially the men, would have had a chance to survive in a hunting society. Perhaps that is why people with glasses are considered nerdier than average; they have more reason than average to respect the technology that would have allowed their ancient doppleganger ancestors to survive, and by extension technology which helps them get by today in the business world.

28 August 2006

Above the Influence

Above the Influence has recently aired another ad in its sometimes cheesy, couch-sitting-obsessed campaign to give teens confidence to reject marijuana by making it appear to be uncool. This new installment is aptly called "Pete's couch." However, unlike previous ads, which myoptically bash marijuana smoking, this at least considers an alternative view. Sure, in the end, the protagonist rejects marijuana and its users' couch sitting tendencies, but he also mentions an often unsaid benefit. I'll let you watch the video and find out what it is.

24 August 2006

Have a Looksie...

To my mind looksie has been a bona-fide slang term for "look" for many years. Until today when I actually saw it in print here, and then checked the authority. It is "look-see," which isn't quite the cutesie word that, well, "cutesie" is. Add that to the list of things I learned way too late in life.

18 August 2006

Laughing at yourself

Okay, I know it is faux pas to laugh at your own jokes. But is it okay if you read something you wrote a while back and laugh because you forgot you had written it? I guess that is a case of laughing at yourself, which is often endearing. Oh, and blogging is for narcists. But what is blogging about previously written blogs by yourself? Meta-narcisism?

So this is the sentence:

I will also adulterate my address with annoying and akward alliteration and allusions about American Army traitor, Benedict Arnold (to actually accomplish this achievement deserves an awesome accolade awarded the author).

Jeff Shepley gets the big search engines to work for you, Yahoo!

I recently posted a blog that had, in the same sentence, "google" and "jeff shepley." Now, if you google (oops, I mean if you use Google to search) "jeff shepley," that post is the first hit. I don't know if Yahoo! crawls blogger, but I'm going to test it out.

Yahoo! Jeff Shepley.
Jeff Shepley loves Yahoo!, it is the greatest (way better than Google).
Hail Yahoo! please, Mr. Jeff Shepley.

I'm trying to beat out Shepley E-x-c-a-v-a-t-i-n-g L-t-d. Which is the current Yahoo! result for either Jeff Shepley or "Jeff Shepley"


17 August 2006

The hiccup cure I "invented"

I've passed this cure along to friends and family alike for quite some time. I'd say I came up with it about 5 or 6 years ago. Anyway, it was one of those things where no one told you about it and not a whole lot of people know it, so you begin to think to yourself that you invented it.

Perhaps it is one of those things that get invented many times over but don't have a lot of "staying power" and so they must be reinvented throughout time and across localities.

Anyway, in case I did actually invent this (doubtful), I thought I'd get my claim down in writting. Without further ado, my hiccup cure:

Breathe in deep. As deep as you can. Now try and suck in a little more air. Hold it until such time as you would have hiccuped. You should now be able to breathe out and be without hiccups.

The premise behind the cure is that hiccups involve the regular and involuntary contraction of the diaphram. By fully contracting the diaphram, you have sufficiently disrupted the regularity of the impulse that whatever finicky force gave you the hiccups in the first place has dissipated. I'll admit this is borderline on black magic/old wives tale medicine, but it works pretty well.

14 August 2006

Only 22, and so much death

I was reminiscing with some friends yesterday and learn that an old school mate was killed a few years ago (was the first I'd heard of it). It was kind of scary to think about the young people around me who have been party to violent, life-ending incidents

A young man who punched me in middle school was killed in a gang shooting a few years ago.

A young man I got a couple rides in college from committed suicide.

A young man I played with in elementary schooled shot and killed his parents .

Though I, luckily, have not been directly involved in any of these incidents, looking back it came as a shock to me that I could cite three examples, off-hand. And here I am, living what must be a rather safe life compared to the global average. It is really disheartening to think that much of humanity must deal with violence as a more commonplace occurance.

13 August 2006

Free to choose

I'm not sure many in my readership actually have much down time. However, I would suggest that you "make" time to view at least some of these videos. If I had been the video editor I would have flashed up text over the guests' faces reading "PWNED" whenever Milton Friedman responded to their objections.

08 August 2006

Guess your way to becoming a pilot???

How should the flight controls be held while taxiing a tailwheel airplane with left quartering tailwind?

A. Left aileron up, elevator neutral.
B. Left aileron down, elevator neutral.
C. Left aileron down, elvator down.

-From the FAA private pilot written test question database

In order to become a private pilot one step is to pass the FAA written test. The test claims to test essential knowledge an airman needs to conduct safe flight operations.

When I heard that the test was multiple choice I immediately thought of those old AP exams with 5 possible responses where they subtracted 1/4 point for wrong answers. The FAA test has only 3 choices per question. If it followed the AP style it would subtract something like 1/2 point for each incorrect response.

To pass the FAA test requires 70% correct responses. Assuming 100 questions, let's say you KNOW the answer to 58 questions and guess on the 42 remaining questions. If you get 1/3 of those right and 2/3 wrong you have a raw score of 70 and would be on your to getting your wings. AP style, your 7o raw score would end up being... 58, i.e., the number you KNEW and you'd fail. In fact, under the AP method, answering 79 questions correctly and missing 21 questions would result in failure, because you only knew 69 of the questions.

Of course you could get lucky and get more of your guesses right (say by eliminating a few obviously wronge choices). Is it worth getting lucky on the test only to be unlucky while taxiing your $150,000 Diamond DA20-C1 with a strong left quarting wind?

Check the comments for both answers.

07 August 2006

Content Warning: Lacking

When I started this blog, I had tons of ideas stored up that I wanted to get down. Sure, I would use current events to exemplify those ideas, but my point is that I was not simply recycling others' ideas -- at least without adding what I felt was a fresh insight.

However, it seems of late that I'm suffering from a bit of punditry-block, i.e., my posts largely link to other posts and then simply add something as substantive as "I liked this link." I do apologize for becoming a link portal of sorts. As I am working full-time, I find myself without time to read as many interesting books and such as when I was unemployed.

However, I am involved in some interesting stuff and have not given up on blogging yet! So, take heart, though the tap has run dry, be prepared for a trickle of thick brew every once in a while!

06 August 2006

6 year old criticizes ATF in picture. They frame it.

The winning submission to the Alcohol, Tabacco, and Firearms employee's kid drawing contest. Got to love 6 year-olds.

Pictured above is a winning entry drawn by a 6-year-old. Ostensibly a drawing of an
ATF agent investigating a church arson, the image, especially the ambiguous child-like figure on the left side, eerily calls to mind the ATF’s central role in the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidians outside Waco, Texas. That confrontation—which started with a bungled ATF raid and ended with a firestorm—was the deadliest law enforcement operation in U.S. history. When it was over, 86 people (including nearly two dozen children) were dead. [reason magazine]

03 August 2006

The value of a $20 Starbucks card...

A $20 Starbucks stored value card is clearly worth less than a $20 bill. Why do people buy stored value cards at face value?

This question was posed by Aplia Econ blog. Below is my response,
This is not clear. The value card can do loads of things a twenty dollar bill cannot (and this is why people buy them).

1. It can be used over and over (well maybe twice at Starbucks) and you never get hard to handle change in return.

2. You can give it as a gift and therefrom exert some control over the recepient's purchasing patterns. The would work for a parent who derives value from seeing her child spend the money well (like on caffiene as opposed to illegal drugs). That is, unless the recipient could sell it for less than $20. However, the drugs which could be purchased for less than $20 are obviously less than those which can be bought for $20. However, if addicted, the child may resort to other, undesirable means of obtaining said drugs.

3. You can break into doors with the card, not the cash.

My money is on number 1.