Sunday, September 26, 2010

Baby videos

All of the studies I have seen on babies watching videos intended to teach them vocabulary show that babies essentially pick up nothing. This always seemed a little odd to me, I mean they are watching shouldn't they learn some of the new words?

I have spent most of the past year listening to Spanish radio when I drive. This was a combination of my car not working well to play MP3s and getting annoyed over all of the celebrity gossip and repeating the same five songs so much. In that year of Spanish radio I perhaps learned 10 words. Essentially nothing. Now it makes more sense how those babies don't manage to pick up much of anything.

Used Ford Focus

I am now fairly certain I will buy a 2002-2005 ford focus. Probably a 4 door hatchback. One of the things I have most been hearing is people concerned that buying such an old vehicle I will have poor reliability and spend a lot on maintenance.

I just found estimated repair costs for major repairs on the vehicle:

It includes all of the typical major repairs. The exhaust system, A/C, transmission, brakes, timing chain, shocks and so on. In total the list covers 10 different major repairs. If I add up the cost of all ten repairs, I get a number that is still less than I have spent on maintaining my old Jaguar S type over the last 13 months. I really could buy quite the lemon and still save money this year.

Google Maps

Messing around on google maps looking at parts of the world I know nothing about is always interesting. Some things just don't look like they should exist:

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That is right in the middle of the Sahara desert. Clearly they have managed to procure water and grow crops but just on those little circles in the middle of a wasteland.

This is apparently a common practice in the desert as I was able to find quite a few similar places:

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There seem to be no shortage of places on earth that don't look like they could be real:

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I guess the orange leaves on the trees made that area look bright orange.

It is also impressive how much information of potential military significance you can get.
Here is a cute little town just inside North Korea:

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Here is a nuclear power plant:

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I guess they know they can't hide something so big, so why bother.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

$5000 car

I just found out the hard way that the minimum insurance you must have in the state of California is $5000 dollars. That really inspires me to have a $4000-$5000 car.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cost of College

one of my fantasies is starting a college, but running it like one from 1980. While the inflation adjusted cost of college has nearly tripled, there is nothing that makes a 1980 style college impossible. In exchange for tenure there is no shortage of PhDs willing to teach. All the education at a third the cost must still appeal to someone these days.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Car

I woke up today to find that my poor 2000 Jaguar S type with 260,000 miles had been rear ended. The bumper and trunk were torn up pretty bad and broken glass was all over the ground. I have a card from the police department saying "your vehicle was hit by a suspected DUI driver"

I haven't been able to get any information about the insurance for the other company. So it is hard to say what will happen. However at least an 80% chance they will total it. Hopefully I can talk them out of at least the last six months of repair costs for the car(close to 3k) but it is hard to say.

Anyways, barring a miracle giving me a new bumper and roof to my trunk I am in the market for a new car. Actually I am in the market for a used car. Five years of the Jaguar make me want the cheapest car to maintain I can get. Having a 1000+ dollar repair every few months has got really old. This year has been an easy one compared to the last two, yet I have still payed over $3500 in maintenance I have little remaining tolerance for blowing money on high cost status symbols.

I have decided on a few criteria:
I want a 4 door car.
I want high gas mileage, over 30mpg would be ideal, but really 25 would be acceptable. I drive the LA to San Jose drive a lot and making that drive cheaper would really help be.
I want power locks. I realize this is an odd one, but really it is too easy to leave cars unlocked with manual locks.
I want a working AC. I have never been able to afford fixing the AC on the Jaguar. The repairs it typically cost just to keep it running was all I could justify.
I don't want a hybrid. I just don't think that the cost of the battery makes sense. High mileage cars without them just seem to make more financial sense.

So far my list of potential cars consists of the: Ford Focus; Toyota Corolla; Honda Civic; Toyota Camry; Mazda Protege; Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Elantra.

I suspect I will limit myself to about a $5000 car. I just don't believe in digging myself into much more debt. Four years in a $5000 dollar car should really be enough for me to pay off my credit cards, pay off my student loan debt, and perhaps save up for a $10,000 car. Or perhaps a second $5,000 car while I save up for a house.

Right now a Hyundai Elantra is the top of my list. They have depreciated really fast. A 2003 one is something in the range of $3000-$4500 while a 2005 one is $5000-$7000. This seems to be more based off of poor image of the company, than an actual deficiency of the car. This seems like something I should take advantage of. Also, I shouldn't be paying much for future depreciation which is the most expensive part of owning a car. I still haven't driven one though. I may decide that this is a little too wimpy of a car even for me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stuff White People Like

Okcupid's blog just came out with an article seemingly inspired by blog about what white people like. When users create a profile, they put down a list of things they like. Since there are millions of profiles, a half million were picked and they were sorted by race. Then they did a search for the most common phrases found in these profiles. The results were rather amusing, and really did support a whole lot of stereotypes.

More interesting, they then did an analysis of writing level. They then showed how several races and religions compared to each other:

Not only am I a stud, apparently I should be an elitist stud... Poor white people though. Comparing there interests and writing levels to those of Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern people it is easy to see why these people make more money on average.

More evidence I am a Stud

Okcupid's blog continues to put out some amazing things. They just have so much data, that it is easy for them to convince me that I am a stud.

The latest line of evidence comes from a graph of how often women contact men of various incomes:

Pretty much, it is really tough to attract women as a male making less than 30k a year. Once you get to my current income, it is enough money to be above average at attracting women, even if I went several decades with no raises.

As an interesting aside, I suspect this has something to do with the low number of men in college. As a student, you will be bottom of the barrel when it comes to dating because you make so little money. Of course most well paying jobs require college, so eventually the well educated people come out ahead.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Craiglist being harassed

Craigslist has been under a whole lot of pressure recently to shut down its adult services section. Apparently it was a popular place for prostitutes to advertise. Today, they gave in. Sort of. They replaced the adult services section with big black lettering saying Censored. I imagine they will put it up again, but if not than this whole thing is ridiculous. If there are prostitutes standing out on a street. you don't bulldoze the street!

It is the responsibility of police to police things, it is not the job of craigslist to play police officer. If we as a society think it is worthwhile to have prostitution illegal, than spend the money to hire a few police to arrest prostitutes advertising on craigslist. Don't shut down a legitimate service because it can be misused.