Rhode Island’s economic crisis

Just finished reading Aaron Renn’s takedown of Rhode Island’s ambitions at his Urbanophile site. He argues that Rhode Island needs to develop its own policies to deal with its reduced circumstances; there is no fortress industry in Little Rhody any more, since the building of the Erie Canal, so the state is stuck like an older relative, living with inflated expectations.

First, for any polity, a policy of reducing expectations is unlikely to win any votes.

Second, there is a cost to policy generation of the kind that Aaron is looking to foster. Assume it costs at least $80k including benefits for an analyst to sit in a Providence office for 40 hours a week and come up with new policies to implement. I would hope that the policies generated would save at least $160k, but who knows? It’s a lot easier to amortize policy generation across a raft of clients.

Third, the Federal government is an equal opportunity supporter, and state activity mostly goes on at the margins. The business environment is largely the same no matter where you are.

Fourth, the dollar is everywhere. You could recast your state as a low-wage state, but those wages are being paid for in dollars. It would be great if you could pay wages and pensions in “R.I.yals” and then maintain a currency exchange so that imports from the rest of the U.S. were made more expensive. That would help support local industry.

Fifth, the pensions are still out there and need to be paid. It’s hard to reduce costs when the big costs to government are already incurred. If Aaron could fix this, the world will beat a path to his door.

Storage places

I was a happy customer of the Extra Space Storage on West 142d St & Lenox until we moved into a larger apartment. It met all my criteria:

1. Near subway and bus line, so you can visit your stuff along the way to somewhere else and not pay a second fare;

2. Near a liquor store, for an endless supply of free, new clean boxes;

3. Near a goodwill, so I could drop off stuff I didn’t want anymore without having to cab it or drive it away.

It was my practice while the stuff was in the storage locker to keep going through it and combining contents of boxes into new boxes and getting rid of things I certainly didn’t want any more.

Slums and pedestrian casualties

Two points here, this one, from the pages of Governing magazine, and this one, my comment on an Invisible Cyclist blog post.

It’s obvious in NYC that noxious environmental conditions stemming from highways and excess traffic conditions degrade residential neighborhoods in the vicinity, however the point you make, that the systematic process of slum development has also affected the ability of locals to get around without automobiles, is not often made.

Funny, because it seems even more obvious. If you build a large highway through original neighborhoods, spillover traffic from that highway will make it tough for anyone to get around without driving.

You see this in the Bronx. The highway development there divides neighborhoods, creates unappealing choke points along crossings, generates excess noise and pollution, breaks up the grid to make it harder for traffic to flow smoothly around obstacles, streams extra cars onto city streets from off the highways, blocks access to waterfront areas, and alters mental geography to make relatively close-by places seem very distant.

Logitech Media Server, how to set up

I pulled my old Squeezebox Duet out of the closet today.

The previous installation was using its own Linux server kitted out with an external hard drive. That box seems to be a little difficult to access these days, but earlier today I realized I could use the spare household Win 7 laptop as the server and the external hard drive that I used for iTunes as the music library. (Unfortunately, I can no longer run iTunes on my computer because there’s some kind of weird memory issue.)

I downloaded the latest copy of Logitech Media Server from the logitech web site (LMS is the new name for Squeezebox Server) onto the server candidate PC.

I set up the internet connection options to use a static IP address so I could bookmark the server web access on different computers on my home network. The IP address is not in the range I use for DHCP on the router. I also adjusted the power settings to allow me to shut the lid without turning the computer off.

I plugged the Squeezebox Controller into the mains and let it charge up. I fussed with the networking settings to find the server’s static IP address, then picked out the name of the library that I set from the LMS setup screens.

Basically, there are three ways to listen to music with the squeezebox server system: either through the Receiver, which is plugged into my stereo system (into the Video/AUX port); through the controller, which has a small mono speaker and an audio-out line; or through the computer’s sound system using the SqueezePlay software (see http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/SqueezePlay ).

I pressed the big button on the front of the Receiver to reset it, then I got the controller to find and ‘pair’ with the Receiver by noodling around through the Controller’s networking and choose-player screens. It then went through a software update and started fine.

So now I can use the web interface for the LMS to find and direct the playing streams, or I can use the controller, or I can use SqueezePlay. The key to victory is setting up the server with the static IP address.

Lee Semel’s answer to What are some stupid things that smart people do? – Quora

Engaging in zero sum competitions with other smart people .

There are whole industries – semiconductors, computers, most software, mobile phones – with too many smart people and not enough dumb ones. (Although, we should note that RIM tried to get less smart by having two presidents, and HP has done their part at least twice.)

27 Feb

This part about the zero-sum competitions is pure genius. Link to the Semel post is here: http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-stupid-things-that-smart-people-do/answer/Lee-Semel-10289