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27 April 2006

CUPS and Gnome and the Samsung ML-1710

This could apply to the Samsung ML-1710, ML-1740 and ML-1750. It could possibly apply to others as well.

I'm running Ubuntu Breezy 5.10, and have had the ML-1740 working on that and on Hoary. I believe it also works on Dapper.

I had problems using the Samsung Linux drivers.

You'll be having problems printing, and problems administering it. Initially I was unable to print, although administration worked OK. Despite being unable to print (I got distracted), I attempted to share it using a combination of this and this. The sharing didn't work, but it did break the administration. At first when I tried to add a printer it simply didn't work. No new printer was installed after the "New printer" process had been completed. Returning to backups didn't solve the problem. I removed and reinstalled all the cups-related packages, but that didn't work either. I'm still not sure what actually changed to break the administration.

I got this error when running System > Administration > Printing:

CUPS server could not be contacted.

And this error when running gnome-cups-manager from the command line:

Removing the Allow from x.x.x.x for IPs other than 127.0.0.1 in the <Location /></Location> part of /etc/cups/cupsd.conf fixed the administration problem.

This process let me print.

editing /etc/cups/mime.types and uncommenting the line application/octet-stream also editing /etc/cups/mime.convs and uncommenting the line application/octet-stream application/vnd.cups-raw 0 -

From myhandyrestaurant

26 April 2006

So much scooting

I've been doing so much scootering lately. All over Newtown to visit friends and run errands. It's so much speedier. The thought of walking home from somewhere late at night stops being annoying. Not that walking around late at night is always annoying.

I think I'm getting better at scooting too. I'll have to show Robert some of my tricks. I'm getting pretty good at going over bumps and riding on wet granite. I haven't fallen off it in ages.

sysdir plus

I keep forgetting how to set the ado install path, when you don't have write access to the default path. This is it.

sysdir set PLUS youradopath

You'd use it if you get an error like this when you try to install new libraries:

could not rename c:\ado\plus\stata.trk to c:\ado\plus\backup.trk

25 April 2006

How to provide health care

I'm quite opposed to private health insurance. Mostly because it's unethical, but also because it doesn't work at all unless you're willing for some people to die of being poor. Which most of us aren't I suspect.

But you have the problem of how to discourage people from using health care a lot when they don't have to pay for it, or pay higher premiums if they're expensive customers. This is more of an issue about "the gap" than about private health insurance, because it would be less of a problem for private insurers if the industry was deregulated and they could discriminate. But there are obviously other problems with them being able to discriminate.

One of the things health policy people get muddled about is how much the gap should be, whether there should be any gap at all, and whether there should be exemptions. How to you discourage people from consuming arbitrary amounts of health care, without excluding people who are very poor, or particularly bad budgeters. Tertiary education had the same problem, and it mostly solved it with HECs. I think you can apply the same principle to public health care. Except don't lend people money which they pay back later, give them money which they only receive if they don't use it on health care. Give every family a $1000 allocation at the beginning of each year. When they go to the doctor, they don't pay anything but an amount gets taken off their allocation. At the end of the year give a cash payment of whatever is left over, or nothing if they've spent it all. The effect is that the day to day problems of money shortages (which affect the poor most strongly) don't impact on the decision to take your kid to the doctor, but you'll think twice before visting the doctor every day. If people spend the whole amount, then everything after that is just free. You're not trying to recover your costs in any way, just attempting to ration health care out sensibly.

For students, a large friendly HECs-type debt is unlikely to be a reason not to go to university, but it will stop people from spending their whole lives there without a good reason. Hopefully it will work for sick people too.

Rewards from Work

Welfare to Work - Budget 2005-06

Other allowances will be changed to improve the rewards from work.

For instance, most allowances will be eliminated.

What does it mean to parents? New parents applying for welfare with a youngest child aged 6 and over will receive a payment and obligation that recognises their capacity to work part time.

Why bother going through the hassle of making people look for work to get a payment? Much easier to just assume they have a job.

23 April 2006

Lovely

Drupal is so rewarding. The more you use it, the simpler everything gets. And everything is so transferable. I reckon I'll use it for more stuff.

22 April 2006

Boosting Incentives

There has been much talk in the press lately about the lack of incentives in Australia. A recent OECD report claimed that our tax system was killing incentives to work. And they're not wrong. The wealthy pay 47 cents in the dollar. Who wants to work with a tax rate like that? It needs to be reduced to 45 per cent for individuals to have incentive to get out of bed every morning. It's a simple case of supply and demand. We have to stop taxing productivity and start encouraging it. Reducing the top marginal tax rate to 45% is the best thing we can do to encourage the wealthy to return to work.

But this doesn't help us motivate the poor to work. It is difficult to incentivise the poor because they already pay hardly any tax. So we have to consider other options. The simplest way to encourage hard work is to reform the welfare system. Public health care, church charities, and social security all cut the legs out from under incentive for workers. They disrespect the poor by telling them that they don't need to work, and they can just sponge off others. They are an institutionalised insult to the many unemployed who would work if only they had the incentive. The right incentive is to eliminate these institutions. What better incentive to work is there than hunger? Or the need to pay for your diabetes medicine? The state should abolish any institutionalised handouts, and leglislate to prevent the church and other charities from so blatantly undermining this country's productivity.

It will not be easy, and we must look to other countries for an example. India is surely the best model Australia could hope to find. In India children starve to death and die of sickness every day. What better reminder of the virtues of hard work than to have your children die before your very eyes because you cannot afford to feed them? It is the perfect incentive to boost productivity, and is what this country sorely needs. The proof is in the data. Last year India's economy grew by 8% while Australia's economy grew by a paltry 5%. Australia has performed well in the past, but the new era requires a change. The government must be open to positive incentives, but it also must not be afraid to use alternative, though well-tested, forms of incentive. So reduce tax on the wealthy by at least two percentage points, and eliminate our perverse welfare system. It is the only way Australia can hope to survive in the new millenium.

21 April 2006

Allofmp3

I reckon Allofmp3 is one of the best designed sites I've ever used. It's so simple, and it looks so good in every browser. I don't think I've ever had it go wrong either. It's just an all round great business model, that's implemented perfectly. Apart from the whole legality issue of course.

20 April 2006

Fire and Rain

Fire and an umbrella
In the Solomon Islands

19 April 2006

Kindly Insurgents

Mulhearn, a well-known Catholic pacifist from Maitland, is a former "human shield" who was captured and later freed by insurgents during her second trip to Iraq. Pine gap protesters face NT court

I don't know why the US wanted to capture her, but it sure was decent of those insurgents to free her.

15 April 2006

Skirmish

We played some paintball today. It was pretty awesome. Just like the old days of Lock On, except painful. Although not nearly as painful as I expected. I have one very vaguely respectable bruise on my belly, but that was it. I got hit in the head a few times, but they don't even hurt. Kind of disappointing.

There were some pretty nice maps. I like the one where our team were stuffed into a shipping container with windows and holes all through it. The other team surrounded, and we were left to scrabble over the few spots where you couldn't be hit from outside.

I think it was probably a good thing that Libby didn't come. Quite a few partners came, but none of them seemed to been having a super fun old time.

At the start they tried to upsell us on better guns. The basic gun was shite. Accurate to about 15 metres. The best guns were accurate to about 70 metres. The man was there telling us that we'd probably better go for the good guns, because the whole other team had got them. We didn't. I don't think it made a lot of difference. I tried one of the middle-best guns, but it just jammed a lot.

It all does remind me just how much I like guns and weapons and shooting and running around with camo overalls. Not that I've ever done it before. So it can't really remind me of it. But my childhood dreams were not disappointed. I'd been wanting to do this since I was about 12 years old. When I got to 18, I realised I couldn't afford it. It's got cheaper since then.

You can go for four hours for $45. I'd definitely do that. My legs were too tired to really run around by the time we'd finished.

If anyone wants to go out there some time I'd be totally up for it. It's only 30 minutes drive from Hornsby.

13 April 2006

Sweeeet

Drupal is so noice. It's huge, but so clean and well designed. With lighttpd it's pretty fast too.

12 April 2006

Black market for bombs

I just had an odd thought. One of the problems with modern fighting is that you don't need big armies to do a lot of damage. Fortunately, you still needed a lot of money and backing to do a lot of damage. I suspect that has changed a bit. You can get a few guys together and a couple of hundred thousand dollars, and probably build a bomb or something. That's pretty cheap. Most middle-class Australian families could afford it. But what if some body with a lot of money who didn't want to get bombed created a market for bombs. Maybe they could offer $50 million for bombs of a certain size or something. Or base the money on how big they were. Would it create a demand for bomb-makers, or would it make it very expensive for people to get them built? You'd probably ensure that they were only sold by people who didn't care about money. But would North Korea rather sell to some cheapskate terrorist or an international organisation with loads of cash?

I reckon it would work except for the fact that people might start building bombs just for profit. Maybe the reason there aren't any bomb makers out there tinkering away is because no one has any money to pay them. If the ability to make a bomb was one of those rare things that the vast majority of people could never do then it might be OK. They'd build one bomb, sell it, and then live on some nice island somewhere under the watch of whoever they sold it to. You don't need too many lots of $50 million before you lose interest in risking your life playing with explosive chemicals.

Of course, it would be pretty risky.

Flexibility is the key

In October 1994, anxious to intimidate the allies and the UN into lifting sanctions on Iraq. Saddam Hussein mobilized his forces on Kuwait’s border. Within 72 hours thousands of U.S. troops, ships, planes, missiles, etc. were either in the theater or on the way, leading Iraq to retreat. This episode shows the importance of flexible organization. Although U.S. forces are undoubtedly technologically superior and forward deployed against just this possibility, their ability to deploy as a combined force on land, sea, and air within 72–96 hours sufficed to deter Iraq. Stephen J. Bank

I don't think this little anecdote says anything about the value of "flexibility". I think it says a lot about spending more money than your enemy on guns (by a factor of thousands I'd guess). I don't think Saddam moved his troops there because he didn't think the US would be able to stop him. I reckon he did it because he hoped they wouldn't bother. It was a bluff, that cost America a lot of money, but gave them a chance to "project their power" or whatever it is those crazy kids like to do.

11 April 2006

Sad State

Whenever I had to read about international politics I end up reading about all the shitty things the US has done to Central America. It makes me want to cry. I just can't believe most of it. Not only did they fund the most obscene violence and oppression, but whenever any country looked like having any chance of success, it would kick it in the teeth. As far as I'm concerned Nicaragua is damn effective proof that socialist works. It was so incredibly successful that it required vast US resources over a decade to topple it. I end up coming to the same conclusion every time I find new information, but I forget because we always act as though everything is normal with the US.

How can we continue to talk to the United States as though it deserves anything but contempt? I guess because our country deserves it as well.

I want to go to countries like Zimbabwe and Iran. Just to find out what's going on. I feel like I have no reason to believe anything the media says about countries with socialist tendencies.

I'm curious about the Contras too. The Sandanistas must have done some messed up stuff as well to convince so many of their former supporters to rebel.

French Students Delay Progress

France has decided to withdraw the law that removed restrictions on firing workers under 26. Which makes me so happy. I'm sure that economic efficiency will suffer as a result. It's so reassuring that in some places in the world the government is responsive to the belief that other things count. I'm not even convinced that firing restrictions are the best way to solve the problem of job insecurity. But the economists that be aren't interested in alternative solutions. It's much simpler to assume there's no problem that needs solving. Or that it's obviously far too difficult for us to bother trying.

People will say that you can't stop globalisation et al, you can only slow it down. But I reckon that delaying it is one of the most important things we can do. Most of the harm occurs because social structures are fractured by its speed. Its existence isn't the main threat, and probably isn't a threat at all.

I should add that I love economics, and capitalism, and free markets. Brilliant things all of them. Sometimes I probably don't make it clear enough that I think that.

10 April 2006

Crowds of Sad Entrepreneurs

The idea of crowding out investment is when governments borrow money, which raise the interest rate, with means that business will borrow less. The argument goes that the government shouldn't borrow, because investment drops and the economy suffers. This might be true if the government borrowed money and then kept it in a box, although even then it wouldn't really be true, since that would cause deflation. But I suspect it's fairly uncommon for governments to put loan money in a box, because as economists will tell you, all governments do is spend as much money as they can.

So if private business invests a little bit less, and the government invests a little bit more, what happens? Nothing. Depending on how well you think the government spends its money compared to how well business spends its money. I tend to think the governments spends it better, whilst others think the opposite. Regardless of what you think, one thing that doesn't happen is that the economy suffers. At least not from lack of investment. Over the long term, maybe the investment is more or less effective than it would have otherwise been, but that's something of a different issue. So the term "crowding out" is a little misleading. Perhaps, "displacement" is a better one, give how similar the replacement is.

The other interesting thing is that when government investment raises the interest rate, people are more likely to save money. So there is more saving/investment, and less consumption. That's something that economists usually like. The government doesn't mind so much borrowing at higher interest rates, because the money tends to stay in the economy anyway and they tax the interest income.

I'm not sure about crowding out at all. Maybe I need to have it explained to me better. But it doesn't seem to be like a very good reason for governments not to borrow. I can think of other reasons for them not to, but they're not as popular. Things like inter-generational equity and such.

Contract Curves

Edgeware Box

This might not make very much sense. Because my drawing is bad, but mostly because it's just kind of silly. It's part of how you prove that people who are free to exchange will be happier than those who aren't. Which is nice. But as I said yesterday, I don't think anyone really cares that much. While Anne is being so completely screwed over by society, no one , least of all Anne, cares that P is the best possible outcome given the initial endowments. Something is very wrong if you think it's worth spending time discussing this.

Despondent

Nearly everyone will tell you that aid dependency is a bad thing. Perhaps one of the worst things. The right will say that it's discouraging national responsibility and the left will tell you that it means you're disrespecting people and not targeting the problem. Of course, there is some truth to it. In the long run there are issues with dependency. We're using children and their parents as an analogy to understand the relationship, and it seems reasonable that if children need to grow up and become independent then so do nations. I guess my problem is with how well the analogy fits.

Obviously, nations aren't people. The very concept of national responsibility is rather strange to me. Or the right to responsibility rather. It's like national identity, but even more prone to confusion. I suspect vast majority of people living in developing countries are completely unaware of the financial arrangements their country has with other countries. In the Peruvian village I lived in, no one knew where Australia, Asia or America were, or even what the federal government were doing most of the time. National responsibility and identity are both interesting ideas but I'm not sure how useful they are in making decisions that affect the physical wellbeing of billions of people.

The other issue that complicates it, is that vast quantities of wealth are appropriated from poor countries all the time. Wealth is transferred out of those countries at a much faster rate than it is returned in aid. In a financial sense rich countries are much more dependent on poor countries. Of course, aid attempts to direct money to the poor. And much of the wealth appropriated by wealthy countries would be taken by the local elites, but the relationship isn't nearly as simple as aid flows suggest. Giving a $100 million a year to a poor country every year, no questions asked, when that country is paying you $1 billion a year in interest repayments, doesn't strike me as unhealthy dependency.

On top of this is the fact that aid is about dependence. We do it because the quality of life of people who are independent is so crap. As soon as you increase someone's quality of life with external resources you've made them dependent on you if they want to sustain that quality of life. So it's about timelines and lifecycles. We obviously accept that there will be a period of dependence. The issue is how long that period will be. Except that whenever we observe any situation where there is dependence (in strongly inverted commas), we condemn it, without regard to where the country may be located in that period of necessary dependence.

Australia was dependent on Britain in some sense for two centuries. Yet no one suggests that it has impaired our long term ability to function well. I don't think that nations function the same way people do. Although I do think a far better solution to aid would be far better to stop stealing money from the poor in the first place. Even if the idea of dependency is spurious, it still consumes the discourse, and probably does seep into the way people think. More because of the way we treat them than because of the impact of our paltry aid contributions.

9 April 2006

Big Feast

I had planned to have a giant feast tonight. I started making it. But before it had even really kicked off, I suddenly got too full. Very disappointing.

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