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24 November 2004


  • Singapore
  • Egypt
  • England
  • Netherlands
  • Germany
  • Luxembourg
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
  • Hungary
  • Austria
  • Czech
  • Vietnam
  • Thailand
  • Cuba
  • Jamaica
  • Panama
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Brazil
  • Bolivia
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Nicaragua
  • Honduras
  • Guatemala
  • Mexico

I doesn't look like so many in a list like that. I might have forgotten a couple.

18 November 2004

All Done

Uni is finished. Good stuff.

17 November 2004

Blessed Hackers

Hackers are a blessing. Imagine what the world of internet security would look like if there were no hackers to fight. Even the most hardcore security paranoids would have trouble staying interested when there was no apparent need for it. Hackers are a continual reminder that we still suck at programming, and that we have to get better. Think about the consequences of not trying to get better. If every government system still had the sort of security we used 20 years, and some other country wanted to disrupt things, all they'd have to do is a spend a little bit of money training up some warrior-hackers of their own, and make a huge mess of things. So I'm glad that there are hackers around.

16 November 2004

Uni Exam

My post titles have really gone to the dogs. I used to try and be a bit creative, even if they were bad puns or something.

Today was the accounting exam. I wasn't sure what to expect, but yesterday was such a surprise that I decided it was better not to expect anything anyway. But even though I wasn't expecting anything, I was still surprised all over again. It was super easy most of it. There were a few bits I had no idea about, but all the actual accounting stuff which didn't need you to remember obscure facts, were way easy. Everyone was finishing really early. I finished in two hours comfortably and still had an hour left. So I spent another half hour looking for all the major questions I must have missed. But I didn't find any, so I left early. I can't remember doing that in an exam before. I usually finish a bit early, but not so early that I can't use most of the spare time to check answers.

It's amazing how much happier I feel after a good exam. Yesterday I felt pretty crap. Something as superficial as an exam can even change what I think about things. Yesterday asking someone I like out seemed liked a terrible idea. Today it seems like a pretty good idea. It's a bit scary how variable that one is.

15 November 2004

Bah Humbug

Lousy comment spam. I've made it so that you can't post URLs in the URL field of comments now. Which is totally dumb, but I can't think of a better solution. Anyone who has the energy is welcome to remove the field from their comment form. Or you can post URLs without the http:// same as with the comment body.

13 November 2004

Lazy Unemployed People

This is the sort of stuff we get in our macroeconomics textbook. Stupid educated professors and their lousy theories about the rest of the world.

The higher the unemployment benefit rate the longer is the length of time that an unemployed person spends searching for a job.

And this little gem.

Unions say that workers are better off, firms say workers are worse off, economists say some workers are better off and some are worse off, politicians say that workers are neither better off nor worse off. Who is correct? Answer: Economists are correct.

No More Comment Spam

As a nasty, but hopefully practical, solution to comment spam, you can't put URLs in comments anymore - on the blogs at least. If you're desperate to put a URL in, just leave off the 'http://' because that's what it searches for.

11 November 2004

Business Bicycles

My textbook is talking at the moment about business cycles. Keynes reckoned that fluctuations in aggregate demand caused by random factors, were the key to recessions and and general ups and downs in the economy. Other people believe different things, but the Keynesian philosophy is the one most governments hold. The problem is that there's a big lag between their expansionary or contractionary policies and when the influence is felt. And they're never quite sure if we're going up or down to begin with, so it's hard to know which way to push the economy. Even so, it works pretty well, and they judge good most of the time.

However, I was wondering if instead of manipulating aggregate demand, which is kind of superficial and actually has no long term impact, if they could manipulate something else. And the number of hours in the work week seemed like a good thing. It's targetting the real issue of unemployment when people don't want to buy stuff. You'd take a hit in terms of overall productivity - because I suspect that for a single worker there are increasing returns to scale - but there's nothing saying that 40 hours is optimal. Maybe 20 hours really is. Maybe 80 hours a week is. 40 hours a week isn't a historical number. There isn't really an optimal number anyway. Also, if you made even a tiny dent in cyclical unemployment you'd get huge productivity gains, which would probably compensate.

You'd have problems with family budgets, because real income would fluctuate a bit. But banks could base their home loans on the minimum hours per week. Which might be 35 hours or something, so people wouldn't get stuck with home loans they couldn't afford. And even if the government phased each shift in gently. Over 6 months or so, I reckon you'd still get a much faster response to the input than with other methods. I suspect that workers would be faster to react to obvious changes in income than investors are. Investors are always making long term choices, because they're dealing with large chunks of money at once. Workers deal with smaller amounts, so it doesn't matter so much if they misjudge the economy. It doesn't matter at all really. So while there is unemployment the government could push towards fewer hours a week. And when there are wage rises, the government could increase the hours per week.

It seems that if people stop buying stuff then the best solution isn't necessarily to convince them to buy more. The obvious other option is to let them work less.

The unions would love it I reckon, because there'd be less unemployment and in the aggregate, workers aren't losing anything. Business would probably like it, because it reduce upward wage pressures and overtime costs during periods of strong economic growth.

In economicky language you'd be letting the government fiddle with the long run aggregate supply curve, to minimise the impact of the business cycle on employment levels. There's a the chance that you'd get problems with the government running out of hours to reduce, but they'd just have to budget their increases and decreases over the expected length of the business cycle, which isn't that long anyway.

There's a whole other interesting thing of how to distribute income, and the impact of the size of income chunks on the the outcome of monetary and fiscal policy. Funnily enough I reckon that the apparent "naive" decision-making on non-investors is actually more realistic than the clever investor growth predictions. Growth predictions are self-fulfilling prophecies. If your lifestyle and income makeup allows you to make decisions week to week (workers), rather than year to year (investors) then good for you. And, perhaps more importantly, good for the economy and the size of recessions.

Which leads me to the next obvious conclusion, which has been staring me in the face for months. Capital is shit. It's an artefact of inefficient information distribution and will one day hopefully die. Educated workers with access to information are far more flexible and therefore far more efficient at allocating income than investors, who can't afford to be wrong.

It's like "Where do butterflies go when it rains?" Where does the money go when the economy crashes? I reckon investors whack it into low risk portfolios which ends up as gold sitting in a vault, which is what kills everything. Saved up usefulness - which is what money really is - isn't meant to sit a vault. I would reckon that workers don't stick their money into vaults at the same rate investors do. When profit expectations drop, workers go and buy a meat pie instead of investing it. But investors stick it in a vault, because it's not their money so they can't buy a meat pie with it. And even if it was their money, they wouldn't spend it on pies, because they've got far too much money and nobody needs that many meat pies.

So, death to capital! Long live capitalism!

9 November 2004

God Bless The Tax Office

I finally submitted the last 8 year's tax returns a few weeks ago. The ATO just transferred $6000 into my bank account without telling me. Goodness me.

4 November 2004

Road Tax

Today the guy who I stuck my middle finger up at said to me "Why don't you pay some fuckin road tax?"

RTA Statement of Financial Performance

 2003-04 2004-05
Motor vehicle taxation$940,000$981,000
Total roads operating expense$2,797,978$2,858,690



One of the first people to join the BikeBus was Colin who works at the University of New South Wales UNSW). Colin has commuted by bike on and off for years depending upon where he has been working, but had never ridden to UNSW as he regarded the trip from Marrickville as “just too hairy to contemplate�. Off To Work? On your Bike! (RTA)

I had a bad ride today. I almost got squashed by a truck overtaking another truck on a blind corner. Then I got honked by two cars within the space of about two minutes for riding the middle of the lane. I stuck my middle finger up at the second one, and we argued for a bit. He threatened to break my neck, but I think he knew that if he got out of his car I'd just ride off. I haven't had a proper argument with someone in years.

So I just went to check the road rules. They recommend you ride in the middle of your lane whenever possible. But gee whiz it's hard work. I'm going to get killed either by a pissed off driver that wants to pass, or a stupid driver that comes to close.

New Fancy Clock

I got a new clock from the bargain shop yesterday. It's silver and I love it.

3 November 2004


Comment spam has got a bit silly recently. I've done something to Jem's blog that might fix it. If it works, I'll show everyone else how to do it too.

And, email addresses are no longer ever required when commenting. And even if they are included, they'll never be shown in the comment list.

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