Monthly Archives: July 2012

This Post Is About Web Design and Not Chik-Fil-A*

I changed things around. It was a matter of scalable convenience; the theme I was using was customized and I didn’t want to keep merging code or design or making sure stupid plugin x functioned whenever the theme had an update or a door was slammed in Kathmandu. Now I’m using the twentyeleven default theme from WordPress.

Shouldn’t a professional web designer want to be more attentive to his personal site? Eh, maybe. I’m designing 40+ hours a week. Whenever I log into here I don’t really want to perpetuate the work into my offtime. I just want to type way with some sensibility, without having to worryworryworry with tinkering the user experience all the time. Every time I hit the front page I cringed inside, thinking of all the things I wanted to do. I even had to stop myself from tweaking too much with this theme.

So enjoy this apparently Halloween-light color scheme. Punt a jack-o-lantern through the goalposts of life.

*Oh hey, since you brought it up…regardless of whatever I believe about marriage and politics**, the problem I had with the story arc was the support people showed for contemptible bureaucrats willing to use government force against Chik-Fil-A as property owners. Letting a government decide who or who can’t do business, for any reason, is letting another trickle of tyranny stream through the cracks. As far as I know, Chik-Fil-A’s exchanges are all voluntary—they do no use force against people to buy or not buy from them, or use force to accomplish anything else. If they did, through donating money for anti-gay legislation or the like, then they are just as contemptible as the politicians injecting themselves where they don’t belong and using force.

**The government should have zero to do with marriage, except perhaps as the arbiter of the terms of the marriage contract between the consenting parties.

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Are You an Electrical Current Or a Human?

Short post today. Read below the delicious red meat-quote on Austrian vis-a-vis Marxist or Keynesian, etc., economic theory, from an interview with Robert Higgs:

Most of all, an understanding of Austrian economics reveals that mainstream economics is the exact opposite of what it claims to be: it is not science, but scientism. Relying on crude imitation of 19th-century physics, it implicitly or explicitly assumes that human actions can be understood in the same way that natural scientists understand the motions and interactions of material particles, chemical substances, and electrical currents. Unfortunately for mainstream economics, human beings — unlike particles, chemicals, and currents — have purposes, which they choose and may change, as well as a capacity for creativity in their choice or invention of means for the attainment of their chosen ends. Only a science that recognizes the essential nature of human beings, and how they differ from material particles and electrical currents, can achieve an understanding of human action. Neoclassical economics hides its epistemological nakedness beneath a massive cloak of symbolical representations and mathematical manipulations in formal models. Once one comes to understand what is being done, and presupposed, in this nursery of playful idiots savants, one comes to see that hardly any of it will bear critical scrutiny.

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Some Reasons to Commute by Bike to Work, and Some Reasons Not To

Bicycle Commuters

Two variations of a theme.

Check out this article, on the latest stats on the number of commuters who bike to work. Though it doesn’t count people in my situation, who do a bike-to-mass-transit combo, there shows an increase of cycling commuters.

There’s probably a million lists like these online that will try to guilt you into riding a bike, making it seem like your world will sprout into a fantasy land of happy fairy-turtles and streets made of edible rainbow chocolate if you would stop destroying everything with your car—but there’s probably not a lot that also offer reasons not to bike, like I do below.

Reasons to Bike to Work

1. You will save money. Probably lots of it.

The big “duh” reason. Cars are expensive to buy and finance, partially because of subsidized roads and easy credit (more on this down below), and have high maintenance costs. Not to mention the gas, depreciating value, and the opportunity costs when have to deal with all of it. Just, no.

If you have a car just for commuting, you’re paying the full gamut of all that stuff. Imagine the savings™!

2. You will get exercise.

Another obvious reason. You may have a sedentary job where you sit for hours on end, and if you’re not exercising at some point in the day your health is going to head into the toilet, fast-like. Biking is at least one way, if you do not exercise already, to get into the habit of getting your heart rate up. There will be less of your butt and thighs to thank you for it.

3. You might meet some interesting people.

I don’t mean while you bike, although that can definitely happen. Since there are so few cyclists you have an instant ice-breaker at the office if you spot, say, the new guy/gal with their helmet or lobster gloves sitting on their desk. You might even end up marrying them.

4. You’ll appreciate being outside and being inside more.

It’s hard to get that “one with nature” sentiment when sliding atop manmade pavement, but you do learn to adapt to moving fast and enjoying the weather, even when it’s extreme weather.

When it’s hot outside you’ll appreciate that climate-controlled office more. When it’s freezing out you’ll appreciate that climate-controlled office more. When it’s windy out…

Reasons Not to Bike to Work

1. You think you are saving the earth.

I hate being Buzz Killington on this, but unless everyone in organizations like the DoD rides a bike and stops bombing brown people and their property, pollution as a whole isn’t really going to go away. Whether or not you think global warming/climate change is caused by fossil fuel consumption, cow farts, volcanic puking sessions, or the weather itself, the contribution from one person is just a drop in the ocean. It’s okay to feel good about not stinking up the air a little bit but let’s proportion our smugness to a few seconds of self-satisfaction, not years of lording it over people who drive.

Don’t forget that manufacturing and delivering the bike might not be too enviro-friendly in itself. You just can’t win. Just walk everywhere (not in shoes, those are probably harmful, too).

2. You have a medical condition.

You might be able to work around this, maybe not. If you have bad circulation you may not be able to ride during the winter. If you have bad asthma or a heart condition you might not be able to ride at all. There’s also a medical condition called “having no legs” which makes it hard to bike. Although

3. You live too far from where you work to make biking practical.

You can bike longer than you think, but too far is too far. Don’t let a pedal-jockey poopoo you on this. Not everyone can be Fausto Coppi.

4. You don’t want to or know when to break the rules.

This sounds weird, but think about this a little bit: the American government loves cars. Loves loves loves them. It bails auto manufacturers out, has a near-monopoly on road creation, says who can and who can’t drive, and makes it easy to get autos through easy credit and state-sponsored incentive programs, and so on. The market is artificially geared (heehee) towards automobiles, so naturally road laws aren’t going to be in cyclists’ favor.

So what does this have to do with breaking rules? Well, sometimes you might need to bend those traffic laws to keep safe. If a real winner in an overblown pickup truck is tailgating you, do you think it’s okay to blow through that stop sign (assuming you’ve determined it’s safe to do so), or to risk getting wrecked by a fender in your back tire?

Here’s another situation: most bicycles aren’t massive enough to trigger traffic lights to turn green. Is it okay to cross on the red light if you bike, say, early in the morning when you might have to wait five minutes for a car to arrive to trigger the light change?

The point is, use your own sense of risk assessment and management to navigate questionable situations. You can’t rely completely on static signage to address every problem you might face on a bike.

Links for your consideration:
With six kids and no car, this mom does it all by bike
10 reasons Congress must save bike/ped funding – as a libertarian I don’t want Congress or any bureaucrat doing much of anything, but the post has some salient points.
Six Pittsburgh Businesses Earn National Bike Friendly Recognition – this is more my style: skip dealing with politicians and instead work with normal, productive people.

Photo by crankyuser.

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A Quick, Unsatisfying Post About Recurrent Time Adjectives

This is a quick post, but at a recent meeting at work the question about year-based cyclical adjectives came up. Me and another colleague did a little research and came up with some answers.

“Biannual” – occurring two times a year (“semiannual” seems to have the same meaning but it doesn’t feel as accurate to me)
“Triannual” – occurring three times a year
“Quadannual” – occurring four times a year (most people use the more elegant “quarterly” instead)

“Biennial” – occurring once every two years, or lasting two years
“Triennial” – occurring once every three years, or lasting three years
“Quadrennial” – occurring once every four years, or lasting four years

This is more for my benefit that anything else because I’m bound to forget these. I tried to come up with some shorthand way of remembering the governing rule but I think I got distracted, Up-squirrel-style:

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