Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hiding from Poor People is Expensive

I stopped by the Blackstone homes models in Brea today. A fairly boring housing track isolated from anything of interest. It was sort of on a hill, but it didn't seem like there was any kind of view to speak of.

What was impressive was the price. For homes which are virtually identical, prices in Brea were ~200k higher than new homes in La Habra. These developments are only five miles apart. From what I can tell almost the entire price difference comes from less poor people near the homes in Brea. It is amazing what people will pay to hide.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why aren't radishes more like green beans?

I usually pick a couple wild radishes every winter. They get really woody and hard to eat when they are large, but when small they at least taste like normal radishes.

Rat's Tail Radishes are a variety of radish which is grown for their seed pods instead of roots. Buying them convinced me to try and eat some pods of a wild radish plant. I no longer understand why ancient people decided it was the root they wanted to breed radishes for.

The pods and roots taste fairly similar. Both have the stereotypical radish taste. However with the wild radish the total amount of food you can get off of a plant from the root is tiny. I couldn't imagine it being easy to make it a large part of your diet. On the other hand a single plant can produce dozens of pods which are quite easy to gather.

One article I found suggested that the answer to my confusion is that the podded radishes were common before the Civil War. They only became uncommon recently.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Book Ratings

I thought I would update my book list since I haven't done so in years. Old scores were left in place off of the logic that I probably had a better idea what was in the book sooner after reading it. It is probably more accurate for the past year than the two years before it. I am sure I have forgotten a great many books which were not memorable.

5 Stars
Green Metropolis 
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
For the Love of Physics
Triumph of the City
Hyperion (4 book series)
Song of Ice and Fire series books 1, 2, and 3
Energy for Future Presidents
The Black Swan
Made to Stick: Why some Ideas Survive, and Others Die
In Defense of Food
Kabloona: Among the Inuit
Guns Germs and Steel
The Solar Fraud
A Case for Nuclear Generated Electricity
The World is Flat
Surely you're Joking, Mr Feynman!
The Omnivore's Dilemma
The Tipping Point
Ender's Game
Speaker for the Dead(book 2 Ender's Game)
Predictably Irrational
Stumbling on Happiness
Beyond Oil
Atlas Shrugged
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Glass Castle

4 Stars: 
Galactic North
Four Fish
Agent to the Stars
Powering the Future
House of Suns
Lions of Kandahar
The Invisible Gorilla
Dark Elf (3 book series)
Gang Leader for a Day
Quantum - Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality
Rama (4 book series)
At Home
Song of Ice and Fire Books 4 and 5
Stranger in a Strange Land
Ender's Shadow
Sword of Truth Series Books 1 and 2
Earth Abides
The Alchemist
Disc World (40 book series, I have got through perhaps 30 of them) 
The Invisible Man
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Eragon (4 book series)
Relationship Cure
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Animal Farm
American Soldier: Audiobiography of General Tommy Franks
The Republic
American Gods
Darwin's Radio
The Father of Spin(biography of Edward Bernays)
Sleeping with the Devil
The End of Oil
The Art of the Long View
The Wheel of time(11 book series)
Harry Potter(7 book series)
Team of Rivals
A Scanner Darkly
The life of Pi
The Kite Runner
I am America(and so can you)
Don't Lets go to the Dogs Tonight
A decade of Curious People, and Dangerous Ideas
Confessions of an Economic Hitman
The Know it All
Our Inner Ape
His Dark Materials (3 book series)
The Origin of Species
Starship Troopers
Sway: the irresistible pull of Irrational Behavior
Altered Carbon
Anansi Boys
Snow Crash

3 Stars  
Wicked Plants
Packing for Mars
The Left Hand of Darkness
The World Until Yesterday
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
History of Western Philosophy
Call of the Wild
Shannara (long series I got three or four books in then stopped)
The Dark Tower(7 book series)
Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
The Bear and the Dragon
The Soul of Battle
Slaughterhouse five
A Man in Full
Fast Food Nation
The Case for Democracy
The Bottomless Well
Microtrends: The small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes
What Happened

2 Stars
The Sound and the Fury
Sword of Truth Series Books 3 through 12
The hero with a Thousand Faces
Fahrenheit 451
Death of a Salesman
Revolutionary Wealth
The World of the Ancient Maya
The Warning
The Ancestor's Tale
On Bullshit
Status Anxiety
Alexander the Great and His Time

1 Star
Tomorrow's Energy
Are Men Necessary?
Xenocide(book 3 Ender's Game)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fat Map

I often hear older people tell about how much harder it is to keep off weight now that they are not in high school or college.

I have long thought this was totally misreading things. Someone who was 30 in 1980 almost certainly gained a lot of weight in the past 33 years. However it has little or nothing to do with aging. It has to do with now being in a country with diet and lifestyles which cause us to gain weight. The whole country young and old ballooned up at the same time.

Here is a wonderful map showing how quickly America got fat.