Friday, September 9, 2011

Senate Approves $500 Billion Increase in Borrowing Authority

The U.S. Senate, in an unusual procedure, cleared the way Thursday for the U.S. to lift its borrowing authority by $500 billion to $15.19 trillion...
The complicated procedure, designed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), would allow an increase of the borrowing limit while allowing most Republicans to vote against such an increase.
Don't count on my support of either Republicans or Democrats. Full story is here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Vote for Ron Paul

To the Republican Party,

I intend to vote for Ron Paul for President. If Paul is not an official choice, I intend to write-in his name. I am currently registered as a Republican in my state.

Choose wisely and End the Fed,
My Name

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quote Collection

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine the can design.” F. A. Hayek

"Correspondence with Frances Allen, an IBM fellow and Fortran pioneer, suggests that column-major order was originally adopted in order to accommodate idiosyncracies of the console debugger and instruction set of the IBM 704."  Programming Language Pragmatics By Michael Lee Scott

"Look at everything you might read as you might look at a lollipop. Hold it on a stick, see what flavor it has. Maybe it's not worth reading." Bishop Sheen

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ridiculous Connecticut aviation "regulations"

Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies
Sec. 15-41-42b. Waiver
No person shall make an intentional parachute jump from an aircraft unless a waiver has been issued by the commissioner of transportation or the parachute jump is made onto a licensed parachute jump center except as follows:

Jumps made necessary because of an aircraft in-flight emergency. [Wheww...]
Military jumps under the control and direction of the United States Department of Defense or the Connecticut Military Department.
Applications for a waiver shall be made on appropriate forms supplied by the Department of Transportation and shall include a signed letter of permission from the property owner upon whose property is located the drop zone area. Application for a waiver shall be made at least fourteen days in advance of the proposed event. [Seriously, why should the nanny state need to regulate this? I'm the one staking my life of some nylon fabric and cord by jumping out of the airplane!]



Sec. 15-41-41. Photographic permit

For any photographic flight necessitating flying at an altitude less than that required by law or regulation, the pilot shall obtain a photographic permit from the department. A permit issued for this purpose does not waive any federal law or regulation [I don't understand this law. Does CT have minimum altitude laws stricter than the FARS? Otherwise, it's kind of pointless, huh?].

Sec. 15-41-18. Airport Establishment
Any municipality or other political subdivision, or officer or employee thereof, or any person, company or association of persons, acquiring property for the purpose of constituting or establishing an airport shall, in order to insure that the property and its use shall conform to minimum standards of safety and shall serve the public interest, make application to the department for approval setting forth the general purpose or purposes for which the property is to be acquired. The applicant shall state in clear and concise language the exact location of the proposed airport, making reference to known and established landmarks, the extent and ownership of the property, including metes and bounds, the size of the proposed landing area and airport environs, the nature of the terrain, whether the adjacent area is free from obstructions based on the glide ratio set forth hereinafter, and any other pertinent data which will enable the department to evaluate the proposal. In addition, the applicant shall furnish a detailed plan of the proposed facility, showing the possibilities for future expansion.

Discussion Flowchart

As seen on zenpundit.com

Critics of Free Markets

Tom Woods responds to a critic of the free market here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Moral Hazard

Hello, this is Jackje Rossetti from the City of Somerville with important information for residents and business owners who were affected by the July 10th flash flooding.

The Small Business Administration has notified residents of Middlesex County that they will make low-interest loans available to any homeowner, business owner or non-profit organization suffering significant loss of real estate or personal property. Homeowners and residents may apply for loans up to $200,000 for loss to real estate, and up to $40,000 for loss of personal property, while businesses and non-profit organizations may be eligible for up to $2 million in loans.

SBA Officials will set up a Disaster Loan Outreach Center in the gymnasium of Somerville High School, located at 81 Highland Ave., from Friday, July 30th through Thursday, August 5th, however the application period will remain open until September 27, 2010 for physical property damage, and April 27, 2011 for economic injury applications. The Center will be closed on Sunday, August 1st.

For hours of operation of the Center, the Customer Service phone number for the SBA, or additional information about loans, please visit the City’s website, www.somervillema.gov, or call 311.


Solution:
Subsidies distort what gets built and where it is built.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Important Personal Income Tax Information for Connecticut Employees

Verbatim email from a major CT employer (including one member of our family). My comments are in blue and emphasis in bold.

Effective Jan. 1, 2011 [but passed only a few weeks ago, which is why this email even exists], the State of Connecticut increased the personal income tax rates for certain earning brackets. Beginning Aug. 1, [the CT company] is required to withhold taxes due on your earnings at the new higher rates, as well as collect the back-taxes due on your earnings from Jan. 1 to July 31, 2011 [ex post facto!]. This additional withholding amount will be spread out evenly over the remaining pay periods for 2011 and will be reflected in your pay stubs.

The following provides more details about the income tax changes:
·         New and Increased Marginal Tax Rates
The number of tax brackets has increased from three to six. The new brackets are 3%, 5%, 5.5%, 6%, 6.5% and 6.7%.

·         Phase Out of Lowest Marginal Tax Rate
The 3% tax rate is phased out for taxpayers with Connecticut adjusted gross income:
Over $100,500 filing jointly
Over $56,500 filing single
Over $78,500 filing as head of household
Over $50,250 married filing separately
Income previously taxed at the 3% rate will now be taxed at the 5% rate.

This is only the income tax portion. Use tax and other taxes were increased as well. Taxes are now due on previously non-taxed activities. Read the sorry details at ct.gov.

Analysis:
Our state income tax went up ex post facto!

Analysis #2:
A special note from CT to travelers, vacationers, residents, students, taxi drivers, employers... well, anyone except union members:
"Go away".


Solution:
Are you ready for the great CT exodus?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Unions and Airlines

I love aviation: physics, application, business and especially piloting. Yet, aviation in this age is depressing and shameful. In this article, Unions and Airlines, Phillip Greenspun discusses one reason why. Unions really aren't so great after all. Golly gosh, who knew?

Solution:
Gov't "enforcement" subsidies to unions have distorted the transpiration business. Buying US airline stocks is a good way to lose money... regularly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Numerical Derivatives Comparison of Scheme and Fortran

This short note compares numerical derivative performance for Scheme and Fortran. In my profession, I compute numerical derivatives daily. Often, the numerical derivatives are part of a simulation routine, so computational time is critically important. The apparent gold standard for numerical performance is Fortran. It is said that if you have a numerical task to solve, Fortran will do the job and keep you in the top 80% tier, if not the top spot, of performance. On the other end of the spectrum, Scheme is known to do the job with 20% of the effort but with no guarantees for performance (some might say "guaranteed to be slow", but that's cruel).

Well, here's a case where Scheme is way faster than Fortran. The example comes from computational fluid dynamics. Given a function u(x), let a 2nd function be defined as t(x)=du/dx and a 3rd function be defined as f(x)=dt/dx. The function u(x) is defined as x*x + x + 1. I've normalized the speed with ifort Fortran's time (greater than 1.0 is faster than Intel's "ifort" Fortran).

  • stalin with gcc: 0.065
  • stalin with icc: 2.2 
  • ifort: 1
  • chicken scheme with gcc:  0.017
As a comparison, I defined the function u(x)=sin(x) for a comparison with a library sin(x) function. The results are as I would expect with multiple calls to a library routine.
  • stalin with gcc: 0.70
  • stalin with icc: 1.1
  • ifort: 1

Performance with the Stalin ("Stalin brutally optimizes") scheme compiler with Intel's C compiler is more than twice as fast as Intel's Fortran compiler. I've heard rumors of this issue, but this is the first time I've done it myself.

Is anyone interested in the codes? Let me know.

Update:
Hand coding the routine with Fortran (rather than passing a function) gives an order of magnitude improvement. Hand coding the Scheme routine decreased performance by about 25%. Changing from (set!) to recursion increased Scheme's performance by about 10%.

Conclusion:
My best Fortran version is about 3 times faster than my best Scheme version.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chicken Scheme

Hello Chicken Scheme and Goodbye Python. More later...

The Chicken Scheme egg for qt-light on Windows is malfunctioning. You will need to copy the proper .dll to qt-light.so. I can confirm that qt-light is functional on Windows XP with Chicken Scheme 4.5.0. Contact me if more information is needed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cross of Paper Redux

We could not maintain the gold standard nor the silver standard. We could not maintain the copper standard, and now we cannot even maintain the zinc standard." Ron Paul referring to U.S. pennies.

This is an update of last year's Cross of Paper note. Bold emphasis is mine.

WASHINGTON - The United States Mint today announced that it is requesting public comment from all interested persons on factors to be considered in conducting research for alternative metallic coinage materials for the production of all circulating coins.
...
The United States Mint is not soliciting suggestions or recommendations on specific metallic coinage materials, and any such suggestions or recommendations will not be considered at this time.  The United States Mint seeks public comment only on the factors to be considered in the research and evaluation of potential new metallic coinage materials.
The recently enacted Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-302) gives the United States Mint research and development authority to conduct studies for alternative metallic coinage materials.  Additionally, the new law requires the United States Mint to consider certain factors in the conduct of research, development, and solicitation of input or work in conjunction with Federal and nonfederal entities, including factors that the public believes the United States Mint should consider to be appropriate and in the public interest.
See the official document here. The language is clear. The Mint is "not soliciting suggestions ... on specific metallic coinage materials". So, don't bother asking for actual honest money with gold, silver, nickel and copper.

One specific currently-minted US coin is the target: 5c nickels. See here.

Conclusion:
The Federal Reserve working with the US Mint is debasing US money: paper and coins alike. Certain current US coins containing semi-valuable metal (5c pieces) will change composition soon. These legacy coins will picked out of circulation.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

ObamaCare's Hidden Tax on Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

ObamaCare stealthily increases taxes on HSA (Heath Savings Accounts). The HSA requires a high-deductible health insurance plan. Here's the IRS Guideline:
The Affordable Care Act, enacted in March, established a new uniform standard that, effective Jan. 1, 2011, applies to FSAs and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). Under the new standard, the cost of an over-the-counter medicine or drug cannot be reimbursed from the account unless a prescription is obtained.
The previous advantage was that health products were paid with pre-tax dollars. Thus, ObamaCare increased taxes on non-prescription items by about 20%. But wait, there's more!

This guideline also taxes doctors. From now on, doctors will be asked to provide prescriptions for over-the-counter medicine. So an (economically flawed and anti-liberty  by the way) effort to control health-care costs now increases either taxes or the mindless duties of doctors.

Who benefits? Let's follow the money to find out:
  1. Federal Revenue increases.
  2. Subsidizes doctors writing "over-the-counter" prescriptions. But why would a sane person pay for a doctor's office visit just to save 20% on otc products? "Doc, write me a prescription for aspirin... and band-aids."
  3. HSA accounts now draw down more slowly, so the HSA custodians have the benefit of a larger "float" balance.  Given that HSA custodians are typically large banks, this could be a carefully planned but hidden back-room deal for the banks.
Conclusion:
ObamaCare distorts the market. Get ready for unintended consequences.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Two wings of the Republican party: Fascism versus Libertarian

Here the difference between the two wings of the Republican party: Corporatist versus Libertarian.



That's right folks: "Drug test every high school student in America." Crazy socialists.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mini-review of WHY AMERICAN HISTORY IS NOT WHAT THEY SAY: AN INTRODUCTION TO REVISIONISM by Jeff Riggenbach

Do you know which U.S. President said this?
I accuse the present Administration of being the greatest spending
Administration in peace time in all American history—one which
piled bureau on bureau, commission on commission, and has failed
to anticipate the dire needs or reduced earning power of the people.
Bureaus and bureaucrats have been retained at the expense of the
taxpayer. . . . We are spending altogether too much money for govern-
ment services which are neither practical nor necessary. In addition to
this, we are attempting too many functions and we need a simplifica-
tion of what the Federal government is giving to the people.

After reading WHY AMERICAN HISTORY IS NOT WHAT THEY SAY: AN INTRODUCTION TO REVISIONISM by Jeff Riggenbach, I know who said it and, more importantly, why he said it. It's not who you might expect. One hint: He ended up following his despised predecessor’s policies rather than the above policy.

This is a new favorite and is now on my list of recommended books. Get a pdf copy here or in physical form here.

Answer below:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Head of Vatican's bank gives warning

The head of theVatican's bank fires a warning shot across the bow of the US and Europe's Keynesian Titanic. See here.

"Zero interest rates factually equal a de facto transfer of wealth from he who was a virtuous saver (although not for Keynes) to he who has become virtuously (for Keynes) indebted," he said. "Practically, it's about a hidden tax on poor savers, a tax transferred to the wealthy, (that is), over-indebted states, business people and bankers.”
 Bravo!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Education not Discussion

Dear Colleague,


Your proposal is not moral: Giving money to X requires stealing money from Y.

Now rather than wasting hours discussing and debating your proposal, I propose spending this time on education. In this case, a formal economics course would be beneficial.  See "Introduction to Austrian Economic Analysis: A Ten-Lecture Course" at http://www.campaignforliberty.com/edu/economics.php  We can talk after you finish the course.

My Name

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Driving Away Customers (Lynch Toyota Review)

Thinking of buying or servicing a car at Lynch Toyota in Manchester? I wouldn't and here's why. Here's an excerpt of a note sent to Toyota:

Tire rotation was requested and paid for but not performed. After noticing the problem, I contacted the service manager (Vern Fortin). He was not willing to accept that I could notice the rotation hasn't occurred (Mechanical Engineer with advanced degree. Go Figure!) but agreed to send a refund. The refund never arrived.
Why be a weasel twice over such a minor issue.

But wait, there's more....

This seems to be another in-field observation of a troubling tendency: "Expert Cult". This is the view that only a specialized expert has the ability to own, use, or discuss a particular object or idea. More later...

Update: Lynch has subsequently changed their service manager.

The wolf you feed

See: The wolf you feed

Friday, January 14, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Response to Father Z's "Assigning blame"

Father Z's article Assigning blame was accurate. There is however another message that I thought should be included, so I submitted the following comment:

The spontaneous left-right blame in the Tuscon murders appears to overshadow a true blessing; Evil was apparently stopped by a prepared and armed citizen. For all the talk about this group or that group, the moral actions of a single individual are what matter. You must be prepared to immediately and individually act for the good of yourself and others!

Are you prepared to defend the innocent? Are you in a state of grace? If not, your first response will be to flee rather than to “risk” your soul. Do you personally every-day-carry basic emergency equipment? Yes, that could include a Beretta under your biretta! To be willfully ill-prepared is not good.

Save lives by being prepared.

As a reference, nutnfancy's "Close to Engage" video provides a nice commentary from last year.


Also consider the Sheepdog Concept video.