Octavo Dia

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Congestion

A coworker told me to avoid, as I value my life, the George Washington Bridge, as it is always congested. He claimed that he once spent three and a half hours just crossing the bridge.

What a waste.

Even though the current toll is $8 for a car, and it collects $1 million a day in tolls, the toll needs to go a lot higher. The people crossing the bridge right now are already paying more than $8--they're paying it in time and gas. The time spent crossing the bridge is gone forever. The gas burned crossing the bridge is gone forever too. The money paid to cross the bridge... that's still worth something. Bump the toll up to $20 and use the extra money to expand capacity. Keep bumping the tolls and expanding capacity until you're not making people pay by wasting.

Book Review: Moon-o-theism, Chapter 8

Remember how I complained in my review of the previous chapter that it needed to be vastly expanded or omitted? I found the rest of the chapter here. It needs to be moved back into the last chapter.

It's hard to advise this in a chapter that finished up with footnote 3507, but this book also needs more cross-references. So many topics are addressed in so many places that it continues to be rather repetitive.

There also needs to be a chapter specifically devoted to the fertility religions which Islam incorporated, and their influence today. That topic is scattered throughout the book, and it should really be brought together in one area.

I really liked the distinction he made early in the chapter between Christians and Muslims. A Christian is a child of God. A Muslim is a subject of Allah. If everything else was identical except this point, you could say without a shadow of a doubt that the God of the Bible is not the god of the Koran. That thought alone is enough to make reading the chapter worthwhile.

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Book Review: War on the Mississippi


Korn, Jerry. War on the Mississippi: Grant's Vicksburg Campaign. The Civil War. Time-Life Books; Alexandria, VA, 1985.

I started this series several years ago in a different state. I discovered that they had them in the library here, so I read them occasionally. Now I discover I'm going to be moving again, and can't count on being three times lucky, so I'm doing my best to finish up the series before I go.

Once he established the siege, I thought Grant's strategy was brilliant. He devoted only a token effort to keeping Johnston's forces out, but all of his work to keeping Pembrooke's force in. He argued to Sherman that if Johnston broke through, he would just be delivering more men into the trap. I never would have thought of that. Something so apparently simple as a siege can take so many forms, like the Soviets encircling Stalingrad, and then heading west, rather than taking the city, so that any breakout attempt would have farther to go.

Anyway, these are fun little books that only last me two days commute.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Review: The Bloodiest Day


Bailey, Ronald H. The Bloodiest Day: The Battle of Antietam. The Civil War. Time-Life Books; Alexandria, VA, 1984.

War is an interesting thing. People rarely go to war without a chance of winning, which means that the two sides are relatively evenly matched. I believe that is why so many battles were won or lost based on the tiniest margin. A tiny opportunity taken would have won the day, or even the war, but it's so hard to gauge. After having thrown thousands of men at a position, you have no guarantee that a few hundred more will make it all worthwhile, or whether you should consider the losses a sunk cost and move on. General Lee seems to have had a sense of just when to take that extra little gamble.

Speaking of General Lee, I wonder if, had I a time machine, I would be able to convince him that he would serve Virginia better on the Union side.

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You're underpaid. Get over it.

Just about everyone is. Except the unemployed and the soon-to-be unemployed.

What brought this to mind was the New York Times article The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers. According to the article, a good kindergarten teacher creates $320,000 worth of value a year. One can easily argue that such a teacher should receive a good deal more of the value that they create than they do now, but they'll never receive all of the value they create. If they did, no one would hire them.

Very rarely is someone hired for altruistic reasons. A worker is hired because the person who hires them can make money by hiring them, which means that the employee is producing more value than they receive. If you're receiving as much as you produce, there's no reason to continue your employment. If you cost them more than you produce, you'll join the reserve army of the unemployed.

Even if you're self-employed, you don't capture all of the wealth you produce. What you make is worth more to the customer than the money they spend on it. If it wasn't, they wouldn't buy it. The extra wealth you create goes to the customer.

Everyone is underpaid. Some are just underpaid more than others.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Conservatives should advocate tax increases!

Not only that, they should advocate that those tax increases be as broad, visible, and burdensome as possible.

Benefits received from governments are readily apparent and appreciated. If taxes are hidden, or postponed by borrowing, people will vote for more government benefits because they seem cheap. Low, hidden, taxes are a side road to the expansion of government.

By making taxes broad, visible, and burdensome, people will see the true cost of government, and choose to have less of it. Can you imagine how much the simple change of making the "employer half" of Social Security visible on people's paychecks would have?

Don't run a deficit. Let people see what their government really costs.

Book Reviews: Bringing Up Girls

Dobson, James. Bringing Up Girls: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Women. Carol Stream, IL; Tyndale House Pub., 2010.

You know what this book reminds me of? It reminds me of syllabus day in college. You spent the first day of class reading the syllabus, and the rest of the afternoon panicking because there was no possible way you could get that all done.

Reading this book about everything that can go wrong, everything you should do, everything to keep on guard against, and it seems almost impossible.

The only upside is I've got the rest of her life to be a good dad. However, the downside is, I've got to be a good dad for the rest of her life. That's probably the scariest parts of this book.
He includes several women's reminisces about their fathers, and most of them include tiny little things, offhand remarks, that they've carried with them for years.

Good thing there are two parents.

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Book Review: Moon-o-theism, Chapter 7

I'm in volume two!

Only a few hundred more pages to go (unless I decide to delve into the back matter).

Chapter seven argues that Judaism had becomes very much an astrological religious by the time of Mohammad, and it was these features that Mohammad adopted.

This chapter needs to be either vastly expanded or omitted.

This is so far outside my realm of understanding of Judaism, and I presume, therefore, outside of most everyone's, that it would take much more than the 19 pages devoted to it to convince me. If this is critical to the thesis, it needs to be developed much more thoroughly.

If it is not critical, however, it should probably be left aside. When making a revolutionary argument as these volumes do, it's best not to go off on equally controversial tangents.

Perhaps there is more on this in later chapters. We shall see.

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