The Suckiness Of The Potential Budget Deal In Two Graphs

July 7th, 2011


From Mark Thoma at Economist's View:

Why, again, are we spending so much legislative time trying to figure out how to cut the deficit in the short-run -- which will make things even worse -- instead of focusing on job creation? We do need to get the budget under control in the long-run, but deficit reduction can wait until the economy is on better footing. We need more help for job markets right now, not the creation of additional headwinds that work against the recovery.

So, focusing on short-term deficit reduction now makes no sense because it will hurt employment. Why is the Obama Administration pursuing a deal to achieve what amounts to anti-stimulus?

At this point, the unemployed are more likely to drop out of the job market than to actually get a job.

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From Calculated Risk.

And then the potential budget deal to reduce the short-term deficit sucks -- most likely aggravating inequality (because increasing revenue is not really on the table) and likely hurting employment and the safety net.

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From Ezra Klein at the Washington Post.

Worse, I think, is the failure of anyone in power to actually point out that the goal is idiocy and that the potential deal sucks. Obama has adopted the insane Republican view of the federal budget and associated erroneous and misleading talking points for reasons that escape anyone that has a clue.

Even politically it's dumb. Rhetorical (and stupid) question: Can any sentient being believe that cutting spending now will stop the Republicans from screaming "Obama has done nothing about jobs" come November?

And, this time the Republicans will be right.

(If you would like a reminder of why this is so depressing, read this.)

Ah well.

Atomic Theory Applied To Bicycles

July 4th, 2011


"Did you never study atomics when you were a lad?"

"No," I answered.

"That is a very serious defalcation," he said, "but all the same I will tell you the size of it. Everything is composed of small particles of itself and they are flying around . . . . These diminutive gentlemen are called atoms. Do you follow me intelligently?"


. . .

"The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are half people and half bicycles."

I let go a gasp of astonishment that made a sound in the air like a bad puncture.

. . .

"Are you certain about the humanity of the bicycle?" I inquired of him. "Is the Atomic Theory as dangerous as you say?"

"It is between twice and three times as dangerous as it might be," he replied gloomily. "Early in the morning I often think it is four times . . . When a man lets things go so far that he is half or more than half a bicycle, you will not see so much because he spends a lot of his time leaning with one elbow on walls or standing propped by one foot on kerbstones. . . "

-- from The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien

Showers Pass Touring Jacket Review (Update)

June 28th, 2011


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A rain jacket that is waterproof and costs less than anything Showers Pass makes. Image by RevoltPuppy. Some rights reserved.

[This is an update to my original review. A more recent post about the jacket is here.]

I think Showers Pass knows they have a problem with their Touring Jacket, and they have a bullshit way of addressing it. Here's the response I received from Showers Pass when I asked about the seams leaking:

To keep this jacket at a price point of $150, we chose to seam tape the most prominent seams. The Elite 2.0 jacket is our fully seam taped 3 layer rain jacket. If you want to return your jacket directly to us we can offer you the Elite 2.0 for $125.

Some comments about this response: a) They admit they cut corners to save money, i.e meeting a "price point" is more important than actually making the bloody thing waterproof. (How about telling customers this before they purchase the jacket? Perhaps Showers Pass should advertise the Touring Jacket as "darn expensive but not profitable enough for us unless we make it leaky.); b) The jacket would work right, i.e. actually be waterproof if they had made it better; c) the Touring jacket isn't waterproof but if I am willing to pay even more, roughly $275 total, I could get a jacket that will do what the Touring jacket is supposed to do.

And what the heck are "prominent seams"? The ones the customer will see in the store? Seams which would make the customer think the jacket is waterproof?

I'm disgusted. Showers Pass sells a leaky rain jacket and uses the defect to upsell a customer. It's bullshit.

Showers Pass Touring Jacket Review

June 25th, 2011


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Here's the bottom-line: I'd like to return the bloody thing and get something better made and better designed for touring.

Here's why . . . .

After years of using non-cycling specific rain gear, I finally decided to buy a rain jacket just for biking. Several reviews and the information on the Showers Pass website convinced me to buy a Showers Pass Touring Jacket. Suits aside, I had never spent so much on much on a single piece of clothing, but Showers Pass sounded like they should know what they were doing and did it well:

Inspired by the challenging rides and weather of northern California and the Pacific Northwest, we have been combining top-notch fabrics with innovative, functional design elements since 1997. The result? Truly superior cycling outerwear.

When the jacket arrived, I was ecstatic. Deep pockets, extra long flap in the rear, room for another layer, great vents, and sturdy material. Riding in it in the cold and light rain was wonderful.

Then, within a week, part of one cuff fell off.

Full story »

So True

June 25th, 2011


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Yehuda Moon by Rick Smith & Brian Griggs.

Not just bike groups. True for any grassroots advocacy groups. Sometimes it's wise to create a "fake" shell group as a strategy, but most of the time "working together" means moderation, compromise, and mediocrity.

The Sound of Raindrops On the Tent . . . Ouch!

June 18th, 2011


Julie and David from are in northern Canada:

[M]osquitoes were as thick as in a Deep Woods Off commercial while setting up camp. There are so many it sounds like raindrops hitting the tent. Swatting the inner tent makes them sound like a maddened swarm of bees.

This bike touring stuff can be trying.

Feeling Gouged

June 18th, 2011

When New York State Parks charges me $26.75 for a sodden, tiny, rutted tent site, I feel gouged.

China eventually outlawed special "foreigner prices," but New York feels quite comfortable hitting out-of-staters for an extra $5. Then there's the mysterious $2.75 "service charge" that no one can explain. It can't be a booking fee: I paid in the park office.

There's a lake nearly a mile away, but the beach is closed. Showers aren't warm. We were awakened by grooming at the adjacent golf course.

From Elsewhere

June 14th, 2011


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  • Gerty and I took the White Pole Road on our trip through Iowa. Not exactly Disneyworld but interesting and fun. The history of the Road is an good example of the history of auto roads in the country and contained this tidbit: "Iowa then made history and set a record in road building when ten thousand farmers engaged in building a 380 mile road out of existing lines of dirt road in one hour flat . . . ." Wonder whether it's true.
  • Numbers and a scary chart on Chinese auto sales.
  • If it's not a hoax, another demonstration that some police officers are real nutters: NYPD Officer Stopped Cyclist For Wearing Skirt. (Yes, I'm not sure I believe this.)[via]
  • [Also via], the story of a driver who purposely hits a cyclist who turns out to be an off-duty cop. It's long but interesting. Most interesting, I think, is that all vehicular assault charges were dropped.
  • Freewheeling, in the context of a book review, discusses his view of "the divorce" of reason and religion. I agree and would add that religion is not the only counterbalance to materialism. I think we, as a world, would benefit greatly if we genuinely valued something other than what we can buy. Unfortunately, sometimes discussions (not Freewheel's) of non-material values lapse into the binary choice of materialism v. religion.
  • Democrats and jobs: not going to happen. Robert Reich visits Washington.
  • Brad DeLong says, "The task post-crisis is to actually create the high-quality savings vehicles people though they had before the crash--not to spray-paint lead bars with gold, but to use a real philosopher's stone to create real gold bars themselves." I wonder whether this has every really been done.
  • Julie and David at are now both riding CruzBikes. CruzBikes look a bit taller than many recumbents and have front wheel drive.