Wow, been a while....


Still here, still alive.  Working on closing further funding before the end of the year.  Nothing to say about this at the moment.  Might be able to share some news on Friday.

All I can say about the last few months is that shit is getting real.  The complexity of running the business is getting in the way of running the business...  plus we're getting to the point where we need to hire people and that adds it's own problems.

Too precious for words


Apparently I've upset John C Wright who felt moved to school me in things.

As a Left Wing Social Justice Warrior he felt the urge to explain things to me and used a comparison to a Vox Day comment as an example.  I'm still giggling over that one myself.

Seriously, funniest thing I've read in ages.  What a complete idiot.

I'd boycott his books but as I've never read one and his brand of SFF isn't what I read I suspect, strongly, I'm missing little.

He should get out more though.

Ah.  What it is to be reviled.

I'd actually play a little longer with him but I really do have too much to do.

So that good/bad thing I mentioned....


Good :)

We closed $150,000 of our target $500,000 a week ago.... it's a weird feeling to see a number like that in your bank account.

So payroll has depleted it but Nick and I are now up to date for pay, which is a nice feeling and I have paid my taxes and American Express.  Which is also a lovely feeling.

So this week I have been running around the Bay Area and San Francisco like the fly avec le arse bleu...  upshot... subject to Due Diligence taking place, we have the remaining $350K....

I'm a little gobsmacked at the moment.  After a lot of years living with no income and supporting the company it's a little weird to become an overnight success story :)

Anyway, I'm knackered.  I've too more meetings tomorrow and then I'll collapse somewhere.

Winning the internet...


I read this and had to share.

If it were correct, they wouldn't have to keep coming up with new versions, would they?

The context was the IPCC reports on Climate Change.

I wish I could make this stuff up.

Stranger in a Familiar Land...


I'm back from 2 weeks in the UK.  I'll discuss Loncon3 another time.

To be honest, I'm still thinking about the weirdness of being a stranger in my homeland.  This is the longest trip I've had to the UK since we moved to the US in 2007, and the first where we did some self catering and therefore spent some time in supermarkets.  It was an interesting experience and something that triggered some waves of nostalgia and also some interesting questions.

There's a conceit that food in the United States is plentiful and cheap.  It's certainly the former, but my time in the UK leaves me questioning the later.  I'll come back to restaurants later, but supermarkets are the main thing for now.

So here's my revelation.  Not only, with one exception, is food cheaper in the UK, but the quality is now significantly higher.  The exception being meat prices, where I'd estimate the US has a 10-20% price advantage, but even that has limitations.

Fresh produce, on the whole, was astonishingly cheap in comparison.  A 1kg bag of new potatoes in a Waitrose (which maps to Whole Paycheck really on the insanely pricey scale) was 1.50GBP, compared to a similar bag in my local supermarket at $5.99.  A loaf of freshly baked artisanal bread was also around a quid fifty in Waitrose, compared to $4.99 and up in my local QFC.  Salad, fruit and other items were all similarly discounted.  Cheese?  A piece of good cheese was the price of a blob of Orange 'something' in the US.  The strange thing being the range.  The same space is given over in either country to the products, but in the US there's actually less choice.  There is the illusion of choice, but in reality the options are variations on the same thing.  Especially in cheese.  You can pick between different types of cheddar, with some options on craft cheese, but you can pick multiple options on craft cheeses, for example.  All of which are selling for a fraction of the cost of the US version.  Wine is the same.  Coffee?  A 500g bag of coffee in Waitrose was 2.99, compared to $8.99 upwards in Seattle, a town hardly known for it's shortage of local coffee roasters.

I've touched on the ready meal thing before, and also the canned produce thing, where a tin of tomatoes is about a quarter the price in the US.

The only significant difference was in the meat counter... but even there the differences were large.  FAR more choice in the cuts available - especially of beef and pork.  An entire chilled compartment given over to lamb - shoulder, leg, chops, rib roast etc...  Yes, the prices were higher than in the US, but it was more than countered by the fresh produce difference.  Then there was the deli meat options.  Pate, LOTS of pate.  Ham...  cooked ham was probably two thirds the price of an equivalent here.  We bought a pack of sliced ham for 2.50GBP,  the closest I could just find in my local QFC would have been $7.99...

I'll not mention the Wine, but the UK does have a built in geographic advantage on that one.

Still, it's shocking to see the difference so close up.

Weird Day


Dog in surgery today to remove the broken tooth.  Poor thing was doped on Tramadol last night and spent the evening wandering around the house confused.

She should be home tonight, she's young and in good shape so 15 minutes under should be a breeze for her.

A friend had his car towed last night from outside his house.  There's a weird Seattle statute that cars left for more than 72 hours without moving can be towed.  We live in a pretty suburban part of the city and typically the only way this could have happened is if his neighbours complained.  it's a newish Toyota Truck, I'm wondering if his new neighbours didn't realize it was his too.  I've suggested he ask them if they say anything as he thought it was stolen.  Either they'll come clean or not.

Economics....


In a discussion elsewhere about economics I was getting caught up over an assertion that economics is currently too primitive a 'science' to be useful.

I disagreed.  I think actually we're getting to a point where we have economic theory and models that do a pretty good job of modeling complex macro-economic situations and we have a tool box that includes some fairly well understood methods of dealing with different problems.  That's not to say that we won't hit a new set of economic conditions that we'll need to adapt to (secular stagnation being a worrying example) but on the whole we've a fairly good set of historical information and models that do a very good job of telling us that if we do X or Y then Z will happen.

It's not a 'science' like, say physics, but there are some parallels.  Keynesian economics is no more dead than Newtonian physics just because we have Special Relativity.  You just have to know what circumstances in which to use the correct models to get the expected outcome.  Modern economics actually does a pretty damn good job with explaining the mess of the last few years and explaining how to deal with it and also explaining why we don't have German style hyperinflation.

It's also a lot like engineering.  Most engineering is actually models based on observational evidence that kinda, sorta, maybe explains whats going on.  The only significant difference is it's really easy to model fluid flow in pipes and repeat, but a lot harder to do that with economies and see what happens next.

The core problem then actually is political.  Politicians like to claim that economics is wrong, or that there are competing theories at work, whereas, really, there's a lot of consensus and looking at the data there's a lot of very clear models that just work.  But then, people get involved.  And as we've seen.  People are a problem.

Anal Expression


Something dog owners learn about.  After attempting to do it myself, I realized that the simplest thing to do would be to take him to a professional.  Made for an interesting day.

I have been known, on occasion, to argue with cranks on the interwebs.  There's a lot of them, and many of them push my buttons.  Although I think I managed to give up Rand Simberg a few years ago, to be honest, he stopped being entertaining and just became sad.

Mostly though, these are people I don't know, or at least don't know well, that changed at the weekend when I got into an argument with an old co-worker about UKIP.  For non-Brits, UKIP is an emerging 'new' force in British politics.  In fact, they're essentially the Euro-skeptic wing of the Conservative Party with a bunch of loons and cranks who don't feel at home in the current Conservative Party due to, er, stuff... mostly about dark skinned people and gays.

The former co-worker was explaining how Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, was going to be the next and a great British Prime Minister, I immediately assumed he was trolling me - but was shocked to find that he wasn't.  It got worse.  He was 'saddened' that I was so out of touch that I didn't see how over run with foreigners Britain was and how immigration had to stop.  He chided me for living in a real country with strong immigration laws which wasn't being ruled from abroad.

It was, frankly, a bit of an eye opener.  Firstly, given that he earned a living working on a Finland based account for a Swedish company which used Polish and German engineering, I'd have assumed he was a bit more nuanced about the benefits of trade.  Secondly, as the child of an immigrant, yes people, Ireland is a separate country, honest, and being married to one, I take exception to being lectured on immigration policy.  It must be noted that Farage of UK has, I believe a French wife.

I did point out to him that not only was US immigration a serious issue here, but that companies like Microsoft were setting up development centers in Canada because they couldn't get visas for their engineering staff anymore.  I also mentioned that I think he'd find a certain Clivden Bundy and friends *do* think they're being governed by a foreign power, just one in Washington DC and not Brussels.

All in all, it is very disheartening.  It's one thing to see disaffected poor working class people getting riled up by 'them' and 'us' propaganda, it's quite another to see somebody who is firmly middle class, relatively wealthy and who has benefited dramatically from the EU getting in on the act to.  Having watched Farage at work, he is very good at distilling complex arguments into a soundbite, safe in the knowledge that there's no single, easy, way to refute what he just said as being the turgid pile of bollocks it invariably is.

He likes to talk about Europeans coming to the UK in vast numbers, even though the numbers appear to be anything other than 'vast', while ignoring the rather large numbers of Brits who've made their homes in Europe.  If the UK becomes unfriendly to live in and starts requiring visas, why shouldn't Europe counter with visas for Brits?  I certainly would.

He also makes the oft used argument that the UK could have the same trading agreements but be outside of the actual EU like Switzerland or Norway.  Firstly, assuming that the EU would even allow that, and reading current complaints about Switzerland, that seems unlikely, that ignores the issue that both Switzerland and Norway actually have to obey most of the rules and regulations that the EU puts in place anyway.  Exactly what Farage complains is destroying the fabric of Britain.

Finally, UKIP describes itself as Thaterite and Libertarian.  And like many Libertarians they seem to have a really nasty authoritarian streak which always seems to suggest to me that they want personal freedom and responsibility for them and the stuff they believe in but not for anything else.  Reading about some of the UKIP supporters and their actual opinions on rape, homosexuality and a raft of other issues that really should be libertarian, I'm left thinking sadly, that in times of economic hardship Europeans, Brits included really do like somebody who can make their problems seem to be down to somebody else.

I really wish that on both sides of the Atlantic, people were more interested in politicians who told you what you needed to hear and not what you want to hear.

The Importance of Being Stupid


There's an old saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  I'm rather feeling that about the US GOP, and many others, and their attitude to the magical elixir that is tax cuts.  To quote Homer J Simpson, "is there nothing they can't do?"

Presented, for your consideration is this from Kansas and Missouri.  Basically the great state of Kansas decided that they had to cut taxes, so cut they did.  The idea being, that lower taxes would spur growth because people would have more disposable income and therefore money would 'trickle' down - etc... good old Supply Side economics.

So here's the thing, even after 30 odd years of trying this on a national level, the data is pretty mixed, and by mixed I mean, it's highly suggestive that it simply doesn't work.  Reagan's miracle actually didn't do all that much, despite the hype, his levels of job growth weren't that much more than had happened under Carter, and his tax cuts were more of a tax shuffle.  Not to mention, the fact that by relaxing credit rules, they fueled the boom that had people mistaking more debt for more wealth that led to the mess we just lived through.

Anyway, fast forward to Kansas in 2014, where the net result of the tax cuts is a $90m+ shortfall this April, on top of a larger one last year and now a downgrading of their debt on the basis that without more revenues the state is going to go into a death spiral.  Oh and guess who bails out states like that?  Yes, you and me.

Anyway, to compound this stupidity, the great state of Missouri decided to follow suit, and cut taxes too.  The Republican Governor vetoed this on the grounds that he didn't want to be part of driving the state's economy into the ground, only to be over ruled by the state legislature.

And, here's the kicker.  How much money does this actually save per year for the average Missouran?  Oh, right, $50-$70 dollars.  Yup.  They'll be able to buy a whole extra tank of gas, or a cable for the AppleTV they can't afford either.

*sigh*

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