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Checksum Arcanius worth B$2,630.67?

Well, during my conniptions with Google, I discovered an interesting website – Blogshares. It appears to be an online trading site for shares in blogs. I’m not sure why someone would go to the trouble… but whatever. Unto each their own. Apparently, Checksum Arcanius is worth a whopping B$2,630.67!

Strange Google Droppings

Google seems to have deemed Checksum Arcanius unworthy. As a result, this site is no longer #1 in a search for “Arcanius” (as mentioned earlier). That alone was not too disconcerting to me (although I was not particularly happy either). What did begin to concern me, however, was when I googled for Titan Robotics, as I sometimes do, and Arcanius was nowhere to be found on the first page. Just a month ago, I remember my site being second in that list. Now, a fellow silverfir.net’er, The Deliverator, has taken up that spot. And I have nothing against The Deliverator (heck I like him, and read his blog, and hang out with him fairly often), but why did I lose the spot? What is going on here?

My search for an answer led me to this interesting article on slate. Ok, it’s silly (and scary) to even think about regulating Google. People who have suggested need to go and choke on a slurpie or something. Seriously, government is not a solution. It is a problem that can, when used in extreme moderation, solve a few worse problems. But moving right along, the article, while interesting, didn’t really answer my question. Clearly, Google has judged this site unworthy. But why? That is the rub.

No Longer #1

Earlier Today (er, yesterday) I discovered that a google search for “Arcanius” no longer yeilds my site as the top result. This is distressing and confusing, especially since this site tells me my pagerank is higher than the other site.

It must be that durned rel=nofollow attribute. Or something. Anyways, link to me to help restore me to my proper place. Or whatever.

The Real Cost of Your Commute

While reading the news today, I came across a link to this nifty propagandistic tool output by none other than the bureacracy is most benefits, the Metro King County transit authority (see here for why this is expected). Well, I immediately spied some problems with the skewed perspective that this little web application delivers. However, I will be lenient – for it is hard to accurately model the cost of sitting enxt to stinky people, not being able to listen to your own radio, change the temperature, roll down the windows, or otherwise control your environment. However, they also left out some very-easy-to-calculate costs. The most obvious example here is, the value of a person’s time.

So, to calculate the real costs of the commute, first head to Metro’s Commute Calculator, and enter the numbers applicable to you. While at MapQuest looking up the trip miles, also take note of the estimated trip time. Then (in another tab, if you are a cool user of Firefox), head over to Metro’s Trip Planner, and find out how long it would take, leaving about the time you normally leave wherever it is you leave. Finally, multiply your hourly wage (or approximate hourly wage if salaried) by the difference in time between the MapQuest time (or the real time you usually encounter, if you prefer) and the time it would take on the bus. Multiply this number by 2 (for the round trip), add the cost of the bus fare ($2.50 usually), and multiply by the number of commuting days you used in the Metro planner. That is the real cost of the commute, unless you find public transportation an ideal work environment.

I used that analysis on my schedule, and came up with the following:

My house to Work to BCC and back is a little less than 50 miles. I rounded up to 50, because I wanted to give the bus system a fighting chance. My truck gets an impressive 17mpg city/21mpg highway. I used 17mpg, once again, to help out that bus system. I go to work about 20 times a month. With these numbers, Metro tells me that my monthly cost for commuting alone is a whopping $147.06. Whoa. Makes me think that busses are worth looking into, right?

Well….. On the other hand, if I took Metro (which doesn’t coincidentally, come to my house, or anywhere within walking distance for that matter – but thats another one that I’ll donate to the bus system as a gimmie), I would spend about an hour and a half each way (to the nearest Park and Ride, that is). I would have the distinct pleasure of transfering twice. Ok, thats another gimme. Anyway, the ride normally takes me 35 minutes at the most – maybe 45 if I go during the abosolute peak rush hour and there’s an accident along the way blocking one lane. But usally I get there in somewhere about 25-30 minutes. But I’ll say 45, just to help out Metro’s cause. So, take the difference – 45 minutes (3/4 hour) – and multiply by my hourly wage – $15 – and we get $11.25. Multiply that by 2 (for round trip) to get $22.50 add $2.50 for the bus rides, then multiply by 20 rides per month, and we get a whopping $500 in costs and lost productivity. And this is tilting every assumption in favor of Metro. It is a wildly conservative estimate.

Suddenly, taking the bus doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.

There is one more point to concede – it is possbile to get some amount of work done on the bus. Certainly reading is possible, whereas it is not suggested while driving. Nevertheless, I also tend to enjoy driving – when not stuck behind bus – and my normal commute time of one hour round trip still compares favorably, reading or not, to a three hour (plus a drive each way at the beginning and end to get to the Park and Ride) commute.

Given facts like this, it is easy to see why so many people have chosen, now choose, and will continue to choose to drive themselves. Pouring more and more money into public transportation will not significantly change these equations. [Another aside – the bus ride doesn’t really cost $1.25 or $1.50 each way – it actually costs somewhere around ten times that. The rest is paid for by everyone not travelling on the bus – the taxpayers – your neighbors, your mom and dad, your children – bear that cost.]

There are several short-term solutions to this problem. One way it to do it is to follow Kemper Freeman Jr. and initiative 883 and build more roads. The Libertarians promote what I see as both a short-term and a long-term solution: stop-free toll booths. This way, rates can be adjusted to always help maintain optimal traffic flow, and the procedes, helping to even out the traffic flow, the costs would be borne directly by those using the service, and the funds collected could be used to increase capacity in whatever way worked best. Another long-term solution is to let cities grow naturally. Today, people are forced to commute due to insane zoning laws. Ridding communities of these artificial restrictions would allow them to grow in ways that would make commuting less neccesary for many people.

I would like to point out here that all of the problems we see with transportation today are the direct results of government policies. Their monopoly over the transportation system has disabled the free market’s natural reaction to increased demand for transportation, and now we are faced with congestion. Their liberal use of zoning restrictions has created urban sprawl, which they then try to fix by with growth management acts and the like – another perfect example of government trying to fix their own problems with ever more legislation. The solution is, of course, LESS legislation, fewer problems, and more freedom for everyone. That way people pay for what they want, appreciate what they get, and make the most of what they have.

My Favorite Bands (A Scientific Approach)

Discussion of favorites are very often dominated by fickle emotions and very little hard data. Well, earlier today, I decided I would figure out which bands were my favorite by a more scientific means. I took my carefully crafted “Favorites” playlist from foobar2000, my computer music player. Then I sorted based on the number of songs by each artist. Here are the results (top 15 only):

  1. Linkin Park – 61 songs
  2. Evanescence – 22 songs
  3. U2 – 15 songs
  4. Nirvana – 13 songs
  5. Pearl Jam – 12 Songs
  6. Smashing Pumpkins – 12 songs
  7. Silverchair – 11 songs
  8. Metallica
  9. Stone Temple Pilots – 9 songs
  10. Screaming Trees – 8 songs
  11. Alice In Chains
  12. Collective Soul
  13. Santana
  14. Bush
  15. Alanis Morissette – 7 songs
  16. Eve 6

I was actually somewhat surprised U2 did so well. But they do have a lot of good older material, so that made sense in retrospect. I was also surprised that Collective Soul did so poorly – but really they only had one brilliant album – their breakout 1995 self-titled release. Nevertheless, I am confident that this will cause me to reevaluate some of their music, and perhaps add it to my list.

This post also premieres a new category – “Music.” YaY!

Free To Choose

I finally finished Milton and Rose Friedman’s Free to Choose: A Personal Statement. The book’s facts and figures are outdated, but its message is even more true today than when it was published 25-some years ago. The book is highly recommended. (I have a copy that I am no longer using). I purchased the book about 4 years ago, for my economics class at BYU. I never ended up reading it for that class, as it was optional reading, but I always meant to. When I finally started, at least a year ago, I made some good progress but the book went to the wayside before long. A new recent thrust has finally seen me finish the book. Hopefully this is a sign of more to come.

The Friedmans are actually more libertarian than I am – which is something hard to come by in this world (although I have met a few since I became affiliated with the Libertarian Party of King County). In actuality, I am about really only a hardcore libertarian at the national level. I encourage states and local governments to take more active roles, as their citizens desire. Personally I feel that, in that sort of environment where people of a state had to live with the consequences of their policies, and the consequences would be clear because there would be no national homogenization forced by the federal government, the limited government model would tend to prove to be the most effective. But I could be wrong, and I think that people who think they have better ideas (greens, communists, socialists, democrats, and republicans, to name a few) should be allowed to try out their (as I see them) misguided terrible ideas. I just want to be able to leave wherever they plan to carry out their idea without leaving this country that I love. Anyway, I digress.

The fact of the matter is that America is in the position of leadership that we enjoy today because it brought together a unique blend of economic freedoms, which lead to prosperity, and personal freedoms, which keeps government minimal, helping to maintain those economic freedoms. However, ever since the Great Depression and the Second World War, government has become larger and more intrusive, and with this change our personal and economic freedoms have dwindled. Fortunately for us, the technological revolution has kept the economy growing. Otherwise, with the amount of governmental interference we see in the economy today, I feel that the economy could have very well stagnated completely.

The economic freedom to rate of growth relation is perhaps the easiest thing to see if you only know where to look. What amazes and saddens me is that so many people are so ignorant or apathetic about this data, and willingly choose to allow our government to continuously usurp more and more of our choices away…

The trend will not stop. Liberals, pay heed: the government that can take my money without my consent (confiscatory taxation) is the same government that can repress your freedom of speech without blinking an eye. Conservatives, pay heed: the government that can tell someone who they can and cannot marry is the same government that can tell you who can and can not own a gun. The centralized power now in the federal government is the most dangerous thing this country will ever face. No terrorist or foreign nation can defeat the United States. Only we can defeat ourselves. All great nations fall not from without, but first from within. In this country, we are well on our way to proving once again that history does not lie.

Those that fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them…

Test Pattern

Kiro TV Channel 7 displays a test pattern at about 3:58 am on Saturday morning. Then the station restarts for the new day.

Just so you all know.

I was actually looking forward to today. ******.