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wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: May 24, 2017

Maybe a Venezuelan shopping for USD?


When the exchange rate catches up to the money-changer's price in two or three days, it's hard to complain about the spread.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: May 24, 2017

On the way to packet pickup for the Devil Dog Double, I bought some bitcoin at a gas station ATM.

The machine by the door was dollar-based, so I hunted around and found a Satoshi1 machine in the back.

The process was quite painless. Enter a mobile number, receive a five-digit verification code via SMS from Austin number 512-233-6843.

The exchange rate was quoted as $1588 buy $2188 sell for up to $1000, a bid-ask spread of 27%, fairly high for a currency exchange. The spread was 16% ($1765 buy $2110 sell) for larger purchases, up to $10,000. (The price on BitStamp was between 1920 and 2010 that day.)

I fed a 20 in and elected to receive a new paper wallet rather than showing my own QR code. Out came a thermal-printed receipt with my new stash.

I tried a second transaction using a Google Voice number, but it was immediately rejected as a voice-over-IP number.

Smart money says you should not trust a wallet generated in a gas station, so I am trying to transfer the value out before I spill something on the receipt. This has been a learning process. Contray to my earlier dismissal, transaction fees are no longer less than a penny. My client software suggested that I include a fee worth more than a dollar, which struck me as pure frivolity. After insufficient research I offered 0.00025 BTC to the mining gods, still over fifty cents. Now I realize that my offer of 97 satoshis per byte is likely to leave my transaction unconfirmed indefinitely. Apparently the network will forget about my transaction in a few days and I'll be able to try again.

Bitcoin remains a stark example of the Subjective theory of value, that a thing is worth whatever someone is willing to exchange to get it.


At the race, I pushed hard to set a good PR at my first 5-miler, but did not even hit my conservative goal of 40 minutes. Then it was tough to find motivation to run the half marathon, and the lazy pace evident in my pace chart resulted in a finish almost half an hour slower than my best. Probably I should have walked up Hospital Hill.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: May 17, 2017


No crashes to report. I continue to make efforts to avoid, rather than survive, any wreck. After seeing rumors of daytime lights being useful, I ride with front and rear lights at all times, and always use eye protection and no headphones.

Apart from the few car drivers I encounter at unavoidable intersections, mamils may be the biggest threat. One sped past this morning sporting a teardrop helmet, sure to escape the beautiful weather and arrive at his meeting ten seconds earlier.

Someone at the office always removes their front wheel before locking, making me wonder if he or she knows something I don't. This morning the wheel was sitting loose, and the frame was secured by nothing more than a brake cable.

The Future

It's getting silly out there. I skimmed a report that predicted, with arguable plausibility, 90% more better everything thanks to Transport as a Service. From page 8:

    Oil demand will peak at 100 million barrels per day by 2020, dropping to 70 million barrels per day by 2030. That represents a drop of 30 million barrels in real terms and 40 million barrels below the Energy Information Administration’s current “business as usual” case. This will have a catastrophic effect on the oil industry through price collapse (an equilibrium cost of $25.4 per barrel)

This would be comfortable win territory for my double-or-nothing oil bet.

I got out of the habit of checking cryptocurrencies for a few weeks and everything went wild. Ripple took second place after Bitcoin in market cap with an ongoing hockey stick tear. A guy at work who kept saying "bubble" last week went to a Bitcoin ATM last night and bought in.

In other news, cryptocurrency ATMs exist. He said something about two-factor authentication and I was impressed that someone could get a machine to comply with know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering requirements. But when I pressed for details about the transaction, he said he didn't have to smile at the camera and showed no ID. Enter mobile number, insert cash, then get (or display?) wallet address QR code and you are a player. I aim to give it a try, but if anyone else can test drive the system please do report in.

Also: Urbit.

An oat goo cup set of six but one is a lot of oat goo to eat, and you may get ill. Can you do it? To me raw oat goo is as bad to eat as an old hat.

Try Pez, a set of 40 can get you to the end. Mmm!

It is May Ten, an apt day to gab in the Mad Ape Den way. You may not say so, but to me it is a lot of fun.

Do not dis it 'til you try it!

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Citogenesis

It's a shame; Toni Morgan has made so many great contributions to Wikipedia.

This story came to mind while walking to school this morning and I had to explain a spontaneous LOL to the kid. I told him the half-remembered story of what I called a coatl, a cat-like creature that lives in Madagascar. He is familiar with Wikipedia, though he was surprised to learn that anyone can change articles. I told him pranksters described the animal as a Brazilian anteater, so now when students write papers for school they could include the wrong information.

"It's okay," he told me, "because if the teacher checks it they will see that it's the same, so the kid will get an A+!"

I love Wikipedia because the reader can't forget that it is entirely written by Toni Morgan and friends. (Readers never forget that, right?) Rather than maintaining Britannica and the National Academy of Sciences at an exalted level of reliability, I think we should consider them all a bunch of nonsense-spewing keyboard-mashers until we have reason to do otherwise.

Another healthy practice is to take apparently superficial threats to my worldview seriously. If it's total nonsense, it should be easy to debunk, and if it's not easy to debunk, then...

For example, #49, "The 2014 findings of gravitational waves are actually just dust" turns out to be completely true.

This article came up in personal correspondence.

    Where, in short, are the flying cars?

    Where are the force fields, tractor beams, teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, tricorders, immortality drugs, colonies on Mars, and all the other technological wonders any child growing up in the mid-to-late twentieth century assumed would exist by now?

Is he serious? Eradicating disease and laparoscopic surgery don't count, GPS and Facebook Live don't count, we need to violate the laws of physics to show progress?

    While many of the historical trends Toffler describes are accurate, the book appeared when most of these exponential trends halted. It was right around 1970 when the increase in the number of scientific papers published in the world—a figure that had doubled every fifteen years since, roughly, 1685—began leveling off. The same was true of books and patents.

Graeber isn't very good about citing sources. Doesn't your gut tell you these assertions are dubious? You can fact-check these in less time than it takes to type a few sentences of praise for Graeber.

scientific papers: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/05/global-scientific-output-doubles-every-nine-years.html (Relying on the URL here; the article took too long to load for me to pull a quote. They can put a man on the moon but they can't deliver an article to my desktop in less than 30 seconds!)

books: PDF report "China alone, by now the second largest publishing market worldwide, accounts for more than half of the BRIC countries’ global market share (to be exact, over 12% of global publishing). The Chinese publishing industry is expected to grow further..."

patents: Total Patent Grants 1970 67,964; 1980 66,170; 1990 99,077; 2000 175,979; 2010 244,341; 2015 325,979

    Defenders of capitalism make three broad historical claims: first, that it has fostered rapid scientific and technological growth;

Only an idiot would deny this.

    second, that however much it may throw enormous wealth to a small minority, it does so in such a way as to increase overall prosperity;

"Overall prosperity" depends on definitions. I can't think of a definition by which the trend is not upward.

Total wealth divided by total population? Obviously long on the rise with no end in sight.

Wealth of the wealthiest? Skyrocketing.

Prosperity of the "middle" class? Despite all the talk of stagnation, I think they're doing well. The worst reports I see say inflation-adjusted income is stagnant. That means they are doing as well as 1992, or whenever the flat trend began, no worse. Inflation is hard to score, and I doubt many would be willing to give up Netflix and iPhones and go back to 1992.

Wealth of the poor? This is the best news, in my view the only really important news. Poverty has not been eliminated, but the number of poor (both absolute and as a percentage of population) has long been declining. The places where poverty has stubbornly remained are often those where markets are repressed and dysfunctional: Venezuela, North Korea, much of Africa.

    third, that in doing so, it creates a more secure and democratic world for everyone.

"Secure" is also a judgment call, but if it means you can afford locks on your doors (indeed, a house with doors at all), and reliable transportation and your neighbors are also less poor and so more inclined to trade with you than rob you, this looks like progress. One of the greatest counters to war is the mutual benefit of good trade relationships.

I don't know what he means by "democratic."

    It is clear that capitalism is not doing any of these things any longer.

Still looking for those citations, Graeber.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Bad manion's june gloom

Same here.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: May 3, 2017

I ran home from work twice in February, about nine miles, but don't really have time in the morning to do it both ways, even though I'm now working about five miles from home.

I really hope to get some long training in before this fall, but don't see a way to make that happen without an alarm clock and head lamp, two tools that require more motivation than I've been able to muster.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: May 3, 2017

Biking to work about every day and I hope I never have a daily car commute again. I spend more at lunch (and still get hungry again by afternoon) but figure I come out ahead on expenses even before considering mental and physical health.

Of course, you find a few jerks wherever you go.

First it was this road racer, doing a U-turn right in front of me, blocking the trail twice while staring at an array of electronics strapped to his handlebars.

Then this loudmouth idiot had the nerve to give me a hard time while he was blocking my lane. Share the trail, buddy!

    this is federally mandated

What is mandatory?

    0.001% of the defense budget

The defense budget was not always so large. Making excuses for bad programs, entertaining arguments that spending more will fix problems, and ignoring evidence are some of the ways it grows.

    If it saved only 1% of what it claims to save Americans a year than the program would still have a net benefit to consumers.

I am perplexed when you say I should not use a cost-benefit analysis, right after you use a cost-benefit analysis. How should we decide whether this is a good program, if we don't weigh the pros and cons?

Actually, though you say "net benefit," yours is a benefit analysis and does not consider any costs. The Americans who are potentially saving energy costs are also the taxpayers who pay for the program.

You provide no evidence that the program saves even 1% of what EPA claims. Should we cross our fingers and hope it's true?

Blue stickers do not save any energy. Presumably they are meant to help consumers select more energy-efficient products than they would without the stickers. Do we have any evidence that this goal is met? Does it work often enough to balance the times the stickers are applied to less-efficient appliances, leading to increased energy consumption?

NPR worries that the "vast majority" of products display blue stickers. Sears sells a lot of appliances, and the online catalog has an "Energy Star Compliant" filter.

  Energy Star Compliant


  294   16 Dishwashers

  156   34 Washers

  131  130 Dryers

76 84 Dryers (under $1000)

49 42 Dryers (over $1000)

  500+ 371 Refrigerators

278 67 Refrigerators (French door)

129 131 Refrigerators (top freezer)

166 193 Refrigerators (under $1000)

406 173 Refrigerators (over $1000)

For appliances on which blue stickers are not practically automatic, there is a pattern of "gold plating" in which the Energy Star is bundled with additional features on more expensive models. French door refrigerators average over $2000, are less energy efficient, and they are 80% Energy Star. Top freezer models average below $800, are more energy efficient, and they are 50% Energy Star. Are we still saving?

EPA has moved to third-party certifications rather than letting manufacturers make the call. Many of these compliance companies signed the letter to keep Energy Star alive. It's a voluntary program for manufacturers.

What then, is the role of the EPA?

Is it to set the standards? Other organizations can set standards.

Is it to police the use of the blue stickers, which anyone can buy on eBay?

Is it something else?

I have a bias against government programs, which made me suspect that Energy Star is probably not a worthwhile program even before I learned anything about it. Do you have a different reason to think that it is probably a worthwhile program?

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