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Electric Vehicle Question

If a rechargeable battery for automobiles could be perfected so that it provided an adequate range per charge, and could be fully and efficiently recharged from household 240VAC service in 8 hours, how much would annual household electricity usage increase for 12K miles driven from a starting point of 15,000 KWH?

Food for Thought

If an alien spaceship were to visit the US and quietly abduct 50% of the economics PhD's, would they make better eating than an equivalent number of fast food cashiers?

Would they be better for founding a new colony world?

Would their abduction damage the US economy more?

Monetary Problems

From Ludwig von Mises :

"...Monetary problems are economic problems and have to be dealt with in the same way as all other economic problems. The monetary economist does not have to deal with universal entities like volume of trade meaning total volume of trade, or quantity of money meaning all the money current in the whole economic system. Still less can he make use of the nebulous metaphor "velocity of circulation."

US Post Office Too Fast

Mid-day on Friday, the thirteenth, I took a Priority Mail box to the local post office branch. In the normal process of paying, I stuffed the receipt in my pocket and proceeded home. There, glancing at the receipt, I noticed the timestamp :


It was a relief to see that the post office was 2 seconds too quick. If the timestamp were 123456, what lottery would I have missed winning by throwing away my luck on mailing a package?

Help Me Find an Adjective

I'm looking for a word, or more than one, an adjective that is used to describe a title to a property or asset which limits the range of freedom that the owner has to use or dispose of the asset or property. For an historical example, a property title that explicitly forbids resale to a black.

My starting point is 'restricted' or 'encumbered'. Any other ideas?

Thanks, Don

Variable Star

Variable Star -- A lost Heinlein novel, completed by Spider Robinson

The Negative Externality of a Common Currency at the Lowest Level of Trade

Assume a fictitious, isolated French economy on the gold standard. Assume that the original non-monetary uses of gold, though necessary for the evolution of the gold standard, have now decayed away to insignificance and that all remaining demand for gold is a monetary demand to hold.

The Rockechilde family owns a large part of southern France, and its holdings include extensive wine producing properties and a gold mine.

All of the wine is sold and consumed domestically and the gold resulting from both wine sales and mining are used to buy goods from the rest of the French economy. Read more »

Recycling a Social Security Comment

From Macroblog, one of my comments that seems more coherent than usual --


I think that you have a pretty clean picture, but that it might be clearer with a couple of assumptions that could be true, but which don't have to be to contribute to the big picture. Read more »

Probability and Coinless Retail Change

In a previous post, I suggested that coins could be entirely eliminated in making retail change by making change with a single additional dollar on a probabilistic basis. This needs to be read before understanding the following problem/puzzle.

Of no particular practicality, consider the following mechanical probability generator :

Assume a transparent drum mounted and rotatable on a central horizontal axis. Further assume that it is internally divided into a top and bottom half. Read more »

Why Stop At Eliminating Penny Change?

FWIW, the following procedure would losslessly eliminate any need for coins in change at all and any need to change prices.


1. Determine what change is due the customer, exactly as at present.

2. Give the customer the change determined above truncated to dollars.

3. Give the customer one additional dollar if and only if an electronic random calculation so designates. Read more »

Why Is Firmware So Bad?

Why Is Firmware So Bad?


Why Do I Take My Mental Health in My Hands Whenever I Dare to Press a Key on My Remote Control to My Cable DVR Set Top Box?

The latest generation of Motorola STBs fielded by Comcast seems to be highly prone to entering one or more modes where it cannot process a remote or front panel key faster than once in 30 seconds. It seems to enter this mode apparently at random in response to using some exotic function like PAUSE, or FF, or PLAY. Read more »

An Amazingly Simple Invention

Sometimes an invention appears that is so simple and useful that it is a mystery as to why it wasn't in common use 50 years ago. I don't know when it was actually invented, but it just came to my attention this morning.

If I describe it carefully, can anyone identify it and its purpose?

What we have is a hollow plastic cylinder, appearing either blue or violet depending on the light.

It is about 3/8th inch in outer diameter and almost 1 inch long. The ring walls are fairly thin, but the piece is completely rigid. Read more »

Preparation For Responsibility

If you had to individually choose a President or other primary leader purely on the basis of resume, what entry would you rank highest?

A legacy Harvard or Yale graduate?

I don't think so.

To frame my answer with a question, has any state AG ever been a West Point graduate?

An Economic Integration Problem

Assume two isolated free market island economies of significant size separated by 50 miles of ocean, East Island and West Island. Neither island has any trade relations at all with the rest of the world or each other. Both economies are on the gold standard, with all prices denominated in troy ounces of gold, independent of physical form. Government plays no role in either monetary system. Non-monetary uses of gold are only historical at this point in time, so all demand for gold is monetary demand.

One of the major industries on each island is the production of chicken eggs for sale and consumption.

On East Island, the EIEPA (East Island Egg Producers Association) keeps track of the state of the egg industry by sending out monthly questionaires to both the egg consumers and the egg producers of East Island.

Egg consumers are asked for their estimated egg demand schedule, i.e. the number of dozens of eggs that they would expect to buy at each possible gold ounce market price in the coming month. All of the consumer questionaires are processed to produce an aggregate egg demand schedule, adding up the number of dozens of eggs expected to be purchased at each possible gold ounce market price.

Egg producers are asked for their estimated egg supply schedule, i.e. the number of dozens of eggs that they would expect to bring to market at each possible gold ounce market price in the coming month. All of the producer questionaires are processed to produce an aggregate egg supply schedule, adding up the number of dozens of eggs expected to be supplied at each possible gold ounce market price.

With both the estimated aggregate demand and supply schedules now in hand, they are inspected to find the expected market clearing price for East Island, where the quantity demanded is equal to the quantity supplied.

This procedure has historically produced very good results in predicting the monthly consumption of eggs and the market gold ounce price for a dozen eggs on East Island.

An entirely parallel, but independent procedure is carried out by the WIEPA with equally good, but independent, results on West Island. Read more »

Beating the Drum