Octavo Dia

Friday, August 15, 2008

How to power an electric car.

Electric cars are not functional at the moment because of concerns about the range of the battery and the time it takes to recharge. Both of these problems are issues because we make the batteries integral to the cars. If the batteries were changeable (pop one out and a new one in), it would not be an issue at all. Just like you have gas stations now, you'd have battery stations then. Battery runs low? Pop in a new one!

The trouble is, this would require infrastructure, and no one wants to invest in infrastructure because no one wants to be on the losing end of a format war. This, to me, seems to be a legitimate government market-intervention. Get the industry representatives together, have them decide what kind of battery cars are going to have, and make it an industry-wide standard. Every car would run with the same battery--which would make it worthwhile to create battery stations around the country to change the battery. The infrastructure will be built piecemeal otherwise.

That's how you make an electric car and make it work.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Don't say anything at all.

A coworker asked me if I could think of one thing that President Bush had done right. I gave three:

1. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
2. Chief Justice John Roberts.
3. General David Petraeus.

Bernanke was widely lauded as the best man for the job, and though there is some debate about his decisions, none of them have been headslappingly wrong. Given what he's facing, he's doing a good job.

John Roberts embodies the ideal of a Chief Justice. By focusing and ruling on the narrow issues coming before him, he has aggravated those on both sides of the aisle--and there is no better testament to a cautious approach, which befits a chief justice. Let the Scalia's of the world writing the opinions with the grand pronouncements to influence the interpretation. Influence, don't enact.

David Petraeus, also lauded as the best man for the job, has presided over a (so far) turn around in the war. That achievement, and that he wrote the book on counter-insurgency, demonstrates his quality.

I suppose it's only one thing that Bush does right. He finds good people (yes, I know about Harriet Miers). The trouble is that he is President, and not Cabinet HR.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

God is Imaginary: #17 Think about Leprechauns

Think about Leprechauns.

They have set up a straw man in this post by adding "therefore it exists" to the end of the argument. The argument as I have read and heard it runs as follows: without the attributes of God--omniscience and omnipresence, for example--it is impossible to prove that something does not exist. All one can do is demonstrate a probability to that effect. It may be highly improbable for God to exist, but improbability does not constitute proof.

All of their proofs are simply links back to their previous articles, so I'll skip them.


Of course, in the real world, any object that provides no evidence for its existence is classified as imaginary.

Using the discussion of Shakespeare in the comments on the previous post as an example, if you ascribed everything that Shakespeare did to someone else (Francis Bacon anyone?), and rejected the testimony of all contemporary witnesses as pro-Shakespeare propagandists, and all archaeological remains as belonging to someone else, you would quickly find that there was no evidence for Shakespeare either.

What evidence has God left? The earth and heavens and all that is in them, to use a Biblical phrase. Of course, the nature of the universe is simply the way things are--requiring no creation. The complexity of life is random chemical reactions coupled with biological processes. All sedimentary evidence of a global flood is the result of millions of years of sedimentary accumulation. The history given in the Bible is mythology, the product of story tellers and wandering minstrels, with the occasional odd fact thrown in for authenticity.

In conclusion, if you reject all disconfirming evidence, you will have no problem maintaining your thesis, whatever it is.


Back to the Fifty Reasons.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

National ID

Just thought I'd share the best argument I've read against a national ID. You don't have a single key on your key ring, because multiple keys keeps an intruder from gaining access to everything with a single thing. The way the system works now, to be able to do everything, you've got to defraud the bureau of vital statistics, the post office, the DMV, the Social Security Administration, the various electoral commissions, and the State Department. At every step, a fraud can be caught. If you have a national ID that's good for everything, and you don't catch them, you've lost your opportunity.

After their kind

Answers in Genesis makes a big issue about creatures reproducing "after their kind" as Scripture says. But that was part of a non-cursed world. What if reproducing "after their kind" was an arrangement maintained by God in a perfect world? If that is the case, we should expect to see a steady degradation of kinds as DNA is swapped between non-related organisms. In this view, reproducing after their kinds should have lasted for however long it took before the fall, but there was no death prior, so that would leave no fossil record. Post fall, pre-Deluge, there would be a degradation of kinds (or baramins), but the fossil evidence of that would be masked by the massive die off and sedimentary deposits of the flood. Post deluge, as populations splintered, any gene transfer would be overshadowed by the population bottlenecks of the post-flood expansion. So it would only be relatively recently that gene transfer would have a noticeable impact on populations.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

How to sell water.

People don't like paying for water. Water is necessary for life, they argue, and it comes freely out of the sky. Why should we pay for it? There is some truth to that, but absent a market price, water is consumed freely and wastefully, which doesn't really matter in the wetter parts of the country, but in the southwest, and last year, in the South, it does matter.

Rationing is not an effective solution, because rationing encourages waste. Cutting consumption by a flat percentage is also not effective, because it forces those who have already cut consumption to cut more, while allowing the profligate to simply reduce their surplus.

The ideal solution, it seems to me, is to fix a non-zero point above which water costs and below which water is subsidized. The average individual urban consumption is 31ish gallons a day. Fix the limit at, for example, 25 gallons a day. If you use less than 25 gallons, the people using more subsidize your water use. The more you use, the more you pay and the greater your rate. The less you use, the less you pay, until you start earning credit for reduced consumption.

This would discourage waste all around, and encourage even the most frugal to reduce their consumption.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

God is Imaginary: #16 Contemplate the Contradictions

Contemplate the Contradictions.

So... one minute we have God carving into stone, "Thou shalt not kill." Then the next minute we have God telling each man to strap a sword to his side and lay waste to thousands. Wouldn't you expect the almighty ruler of the universe to be slightly more consistent than this?

More precisely, one minute we have God carving into stone, "Thou shalt not... murder." and the next minute authorizing a lawful authority to use its power. The difference is who is being told. You can drive your car without breaking the law. I can drive my car without breaking the law. I can drive your car if you give me permission without breaking the law. However, if I drive your car without your permission, I'm breaking the law. That I can do something legally when I have been authorized doesn't mean that I can also do it without authorization.


I'm going to skip the slavery example, as they've already discussed it.


According to the Christian faith, he plans to torture them for eternity in the fires of hell. Since we all know that torture is always wrong, we have a contradiction.

Masochists derive pleasure from that which, if it were done by another, would constitute torture. If one willfully does something which to oneself which can be construed as torture, one cannot hold another responsible--particularly if the other party warned you and did everything short of preventing you from doing so. Since God has done everything to stop us, we can scarcely accuse Him of being responsible for our torment.

In the "Understanding the Rationalizations" box, they criticize the "separation from God," hypothesis as requiring a rereading of Scripture. It does not. If you recognize that God is the source of everything that is good, the removal of God will leave nothing but unquenchable fire.
The active malice and cruelty in hell comes from within--all that is left once God's blessing has been removed.

Back to the Fifty Reasons.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Bail out and break up.

It seems to me that a company which is to big to fail would also have deleterious effects on the economy, particularly if it starts to teeter. To reduce the moral hazard of bailing out these too big to fail companies, we should extend the anti-trust act to include them. If you need a bail out, we'll break you up. That's the deal. Bail out the GSE's, and break them up.