Friday, April 13, 2007

Naked Economics

I started on Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan which is about how basic economic stuff shape our society and make the wheels go around. We had some basic economic theory in high school in the history classes, so I didn't hold my hopes too high but I've already learned some profound insights after having read the first chapter. It's a great book.

One of the first thing he writes about is the market and pricing system as a decentralised system for distributing goods. Think about it.

Having worked a couple of years on decentralised large-scale software systems for the internet, it makes a lot of sense. Centralised software systems have many scaling issues. They easily break down or are very inefficient, or both. But it's not exactly easy to construct a large-scale decentralised software system that is sustainable in the long run either. And software, as complex as it is, is nowhere near the complexity of a human society.

The book also points out flaws of capitalism and how government tries (or should try) to amend those, e.g. through taxes on goods that harm the environment and thus incurs hidden costs to all of us. I'm looking forward to some well-founded thoughts on globalisation.

So far the worst thing about the book has been the foreword by some other guy (I've never heard of him, but he's probably famous). The book would actually have been better off without it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Battle scene revisited

I had a look at the battle scene of yesterday. I can see why the youngster was cycling in the middle of the bicycle lane, with the downhill corner and a thorny rose plant leaning over the lane.

But he made two mistakes. He didn't compensate for the fact that he had a sidecar mounted on his bike, leaving too little space for me to get past him unless I drove over the edge of the lane. And with such a dangerous path he failed to pay enough attention to whether someone was coming round the corner. I hope for him that he didn't bang his head so hard in the lane that he suffered a concussion. My little finger is surely still hurting.

In other news I watched Al Gore speak in An Inconvenient Truth today at NOVI. Disturbing non-news. I am still determined to buy a windmill if I ever get rich. A local upstart called ClimAid handed out adverts at the event, they appear to be selling CO2 reductions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The duel

What do a young computer scientist and a medieval knight have in common?

They both have to duel to get to work.

I dueled today on my way to work at lunch time. A malefactor rounded the corner downhill just before the tunnel I was parting through. I initially thought we would be able to pass each other without dispute, but no, he went for it with his sidecar. A big clang, my steed was forced to its knees and we were both down in the mud. My opponent hit the trodden road behind me. I landed on my hands, gauntlets taking most of the shock but little finger crushed, though not broken, then got on my feet to witness his fate.

He did not came back for another round, instead he simply glared at me, still seated on his charger on the ground, blood trickling from his face. A fair lady ran to his help; yet another tender champion ready for the hospital. Pity his ill fate. I turned my attention to my steed, its neck turned around, mud in the ear, but otherwise virtually unharmed. Checking up on my opponent again, I eventually left the scene of battle.

No young upstart shall bring a seasoned warrior down for good. A duel was fought, blood was spilled, but in the end we both survived, without permanent injury I believe.

But I don't think I'll be able to dig the rest of the garden the next couple of days.