Wednesday, June 17, 2015

6-inch IKA stir plates

A collection of small useful things (links):
Readers, any other posts deserve attention? 


  1. DARPA would like a replicator too...

    And in the news at eleven, people in Hell want ice water.

  2. Well, at least the University of Minnesota found out about this before it impacted any research... oh, wait...

    Once again, the argument for having public officials take the full year of University Physics as a prerequisite to holding office has been demonstrated.

  3. Well, at least the University of Minnesota found out about this before it impacted any research... oh, wait...

    Once again, the argument for having public officials pass the full year of University Physics as a prerequisite to holding office has been demonstrated.

    1. Sorry about that, chief.

    2. This was known and discussed a long time before the light rail was put in place. There are very few places you can make a good transit connection between Mpls and St. Paul (due to crossing the Mississippi, among other reasons), and this was judged the best one. In addition, the University and students benefit because it allows people to come to campus by a good transit link, reducing car congestion and other factors, such as the ridiculous cost of private dorms near the U.

      So to answer your uninformed comment: yes, they knew this was going to happen, they did mitigation and there are a few tweaks left to work out. The U of M was on the wrong side of this debate (they fought it tooth and nail). But it is the right move for the twin cities.

    3. Tongue-in-cheek, yes. Uninformed, no. Go cultivate a sense of humor.

    4. Don't you think having public officials pass University Physics is a good idea?

      Given the abysmal recovery rates on the annual operation of the light rail lines, we probably ought to have them pass Accounting 101 as well.

    5. "Given the abysmal recovery rates on the annual operation of the light rail lines, we probably ought to have them pass Accounting 101 as well"

      I am sure you hold roads to the same standards, right?

      What percentage of what we spend on roads (total at the state, federal and local levels) comes from user fees?

      Hint: Local roads are largely paid for with property taxes, which are not user fees.

    6. Chad, it's the public officials that should be held to a standard, and that is what I suggested.

      But since you asked,

      - The main funding source for fed. highway investment is the federal motor fuel excise tax. This is a user-related tax.
      - State financing of highway construction and upkeep is mostly financed through user-related taxes and fees.
      - Every state taxes gasoline and diesel. Again, these are user-related taxes.
      - Vehicle registration fees
      - Drivers' license fees
      - Vehicular sales taxes
      - Traffic violation fines
      - Vehicle-type fees (e.g. by-weight fees)
      - Tolls
      ...these are all user-related taxes and fees.

      The percentage of spending deriving from said fees naturally varies from state to state, because each and every state has its own variations on combinations of mechanisms and amounts.

      One study indicates these percentages - necessarily dependent on what is included - vary from 79.8% (Delaware) to a miserable 4.8% (D.C., getting a largely free ride like always) and average about 50.7%. That's far superior to the performance of light rail as is.
      However, (and it's a big but), roads enable transportation of goods and allow for the provision of services that light rail does not - and the commerce and trade that the roads thus facilitate are also taxed - providing additional revenues and economic benefits that light rail *cannot* provide.

      The presumption on the use of property taxes to pay for local roads, I strongly suspect relates to the hypothesis that local property owners benefit most (and frequently materially) from establishment, maintenance and improvement of road access.

    7. And once again, I fail to see anything wrong with the suggestion - tongue-in-cheek as it is - that our public officials be forced to pass first-year physics and an accounting course prior to holding office. What, is the bar so low that people actually have a problem with this?

    8. After considering the source, I thought maybe this might bear repeating, from a comment on an earlier post:

      "...commuting subsidies make much more sense when you live on an island (i.e. 本州 ) with extensive rail networks that have been in place for decades - rather than a continent-spanning nation that mostly ditched commuter rail decades ago. Subsidized commuting also makes more sense when urbanization is more dense than sprawling, rather than the other way around."

  4. re: See Arr Oh on the Doyle lab, I can see where these novel nomenclature conventions could be hobbit-forming.

  5. The "We Are All Hamiltonians, We Are All Newtonians" article bothers me, a lot.

    1) "We Are all Hamiltonians." The premise of "We Are All Hamiltonians" is essentially that the conflict between Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian thought has largely played out on a stage dominated by proponents of Hamiltonian ideas (i.e. favoring a "strong central government with broad governing powers") - and that this stage has at best played the role of "enabling framework" for Jeffersonian ideals involving "small, (non-centralized) government and individual economic initiative"). This is fallacious reasoning - it boils down to saying "it happened this way (historically), therefore it *is* (inevitably) this way." It avoids contemplating that perhaps the historical evolution of the nation transpired as it did not because of 'Hamiltonism' but rather in spite of it - or even that significant episodes in the nation's economic history (e.g. the Great Depression, the current Great Recession) were created, worsened and unduly prolonged because of an insistence on Hamiltonian "solutions" that were in fact anything but solutions to the challenges at hand. We have been profoundly affected by the legacy of Hamilton, and others. We are not "all Hamiltonians."

    2) Mlodinow's contention that "we all reason like Newtonians" is absurd. Although I would agree that we use some language in common, as in Mlodinow's example, the fact is the vast majority of people on the planet are not capable of replicating Newton's thought process vis. calculus and physics. They probably could not even originate the ideas, given a hypothetical absence of Newton. Going further, Newton was decidedly a product of his time and circumstances, and those ideas and experiences that informed his thought process would be largely alien to people today. We stand on the shoulders of giants, but we don't think like them - by the same token, we are not Newton's children. We are the recipients of his incredible insights into optics, physics and mathematics, insights that go a long way toward a functional understanding of the behavior of our perceived reality. We are not however, spending years of our time trying to turn lead into gold. We do not reason like Newton, or Newtonians.

    3) Likening Hamilton to Newton is fallacious. Newton, as a scientist, was concerned with drawing conclusions from reproducible observations of physical phenomena. Hamilton, as a political and economic thinker, was concerned with speculations on the nature of man and political institutions. There was a profound difference in the methods, strategies, and resources used. There is a profound difference in the confidence we can have in the findings of each.

  6. 4) The "arch Republican" Nixon didn't say "We are all Keynesians now," although this is popularly ascribed to him. Apparently it was originally ascribed to Milton Friedman, who tried to clarify the quote shortly after the (erroneous) attribution in 1966. The quote originally was "In one sense, we are all Keynesians now; in another, nobody is any longer a Keynesian." Friedman dryly noted that the second part was at least as important as the first. Nixon was later quoted as saying, "I am now a Keynesian in economics," after taking the US off the gold standard - the cornerstone of the Bretton-Woods system. Context is important. See:
    The extent of Nixon's "conversion" is debatable. He inherited a weak economy from Johnson, with high levels of government spending from Vietnam and the "Great Society," rising inflation (at least partly Reserve-driven) and unemployment. Germany had left Bretton-Woods, and other nations were threatening to follow suit. There was increasing dissatisfaction with the Bretton-Woods arrangement by all parties involved. Therefore Nixon, acting principally on the advice of (Democrat) US Treasury Secretary Connolly enacted several measures to try to avoid an economic crisis:
    a) a 90-day wage and price freeze;
    b) suspension of convertibility of the US dollar into gold;
    c) imposition of an import surcharge.
    The results of the "Nixon shock" were to send the price of gold soaring, and stagflation. The mistaken and inaccurate Liberal-promoted meme that "we are all Keynesians" in reality died a hard, unpleasant death in the 1970s.
    Later Nixon said the following:
    "On August 15, 1971, I did something that went against my every instinct about what is good for the American economy: I imposed a 90-day nationwide freeze on wages and prices, to be followed by a gradual return to decontrol. History told me that while controls might be politically popular, they would be economically disastrous. Over my protests, an opposition-controlled Congress had given me power to impose controls. With inflation worsening, there was a swelling chorus of demands in Congress and the media that the power be used. When controls were imposed in August 1971 the nation stirred with excitement and sighed with relief. In the first day's trading, the Dow Jones average on Wall Street rose 33 points. But it was a false euphoria. In the short term, controls provided relief; in the long term, they made the situation worse. Once in place, they were more difficult to get rid of in an orderly way than I had expected."
    "We should address the deficit through spending cuts, not tax increases. The deficit exists not because the American people are undertaxed but because the US government overspends."

    So - in conclusion, we are not now, nor have we ever been, "all Keynesians." The "quote" was manufactured and spread, and continues to be used, to promote an agenda of increased government power and control by a single political party.

  7. 5) Concluding questions -
    What is the purpose of elevating Hamilton in this way? I suspect ultimately the Hamiltonian argument yields a nation that is not a democratic republic, and that this defense of the Hamiltonian idea is really an intellectual whitewash of a power grab by the Democrat-aligned bureaucrat class. In the last seven years, which zip codes in the US have become the wealthiest, and is that good for the nation? Has pursuit of these 'Hamiltonian' ideals led to greater transparency, or evidence of an embarrassingly high level of corruption, cronyism, misuse of office, and political suppression? Why have there not been any prosecutions for behavior that by *any* standard is absolutely outrageous? Why is our Congress considering legislation that is not accessible to public (and even legislative) scrutiny?
    We are not all Hamiltonians. Nor should we be.

    1. Anonymous: Looks like you have duplicated your comments from my blog here. Please see my post for a reply.

    2. Actually it was the other way around.

  8. I wish that I thought like this Hamilton (, but he gave me headaches when I was in school.


    1. Is mian liom go raibh mé ró. I was never blessed with that quality of mind.

  9. you guys have too much time on your hands to be writing these exposes.

    1. ...and yet you found the time to leave that comment.