Recent books

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:20 pm
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[personal profile] mindstalk
Salt: A World History, Mark Kurlansky. Pretty engaging tome on the history of salt's use and extraction, and its legal or military entanglements. Trying to fund a government off of salt tax or monopoly has been common, and commonly hated, from Legalist China to British abuses in India. The US Civil War can partially be told as a history of fights over saltworks. The Chinese were drilling for brine and using by-product natural gas by 100 AD, and doing percussion drilling around 1100 AD, down below 3000 feet by 1835.

Eye of Cat, Roger Zelazny. Time-dilated alien-hunter Navajo, teleport booths, assassins, psi, Navajo shamanism... a weird book, I don't anticipate re-reading.

The Sharing Knife: [Beguilement and Legacy], Lois Bujold. I'd read this series in 2009, and am enjoying it again. Lakewalker powers and their fight against malices gives me RPG ideas, interacting with inspiration from Martin and Hobb and what I think of as "Wraiths and Rangers". Like much of Bujold, has many laugh-out-loud moments in an otherwise serious story.

Penric's Demon & Penric and the Shaman, Lois Bujold. Novellas set in her Five Gods universe, which I finally got paper copies of from the library. (Released as DRM ebooks, which I refuse to support.) Good, and funny, and I'd happily read more.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Patricia McKillip. My first McKillip after all these years. Enjoyable, with a fairy-tale quality to the story and and writing.

transit and mode share

Sep. 14th, 2017 11:29 pm
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[personal profile] mindstalk
I've been reading a bunch of kchoze posts the past couple days. This one is on the economics of transit, and transit efficiency.

'if transit is economically inefficient, why are third world cities dominated by transit and not by personal cars? Why do the Japanese pay 10% of their income on transport versus 20% for Americans and Canadians?'

There are some numbers, and discussion of cost per mile vs. cost per trip. But there's one thing which I sort of gut felt that he spells out: transit friendly cities are denser, so they're more walkable as well.

Let me spell that out. In a sprawling car-centric city, up to 100% of trips may be taken by car. Actual numbers are more like 90%. [Caveat: that's share of trips to work, not all trips.] But you'll never see a city that's 90% transit mode share. (Some cities listed do get up to 70% transit, but again, that's commuting to work.) A city that has lots of transit is a city with lots of walking, too, especially if uses are decently mixed.

(I'm sort of imagining a degenerate case where there's no point to walking around one's residential neighborhood, not even for groceries or school or church, and having to catch transit elsewhere...)

So the reasonable target is not getting transit share really high, but car share low, with the slack being taken up by a mix of transit, walking, and bikes.

This has an extra economic effect: in Sprawlville, the cost of cars (roads, parking, cars, gas...) can be spread over almost all trips. Naively, the cost per trip of transit is doing to have a smaller denominator, only 40% of trips rather than 100%, even though the other non-car trips are part of a coherent dense system that must include transit.

Name five female...

Sep. 12th, 2017 06:26 pm
mindstalk: (Default)
[personal profile] mindstalk
Writers? Trivial for me.

Singers? Not hard.

Instrumental composers? Uh no, though I don't know that many composers period, especially living ones.

Visual artists? If comics and webcomics count, I can do it.

Painters? Haha no.

Equifax breach and credit protection

Sep. 10th, 2017 02:13 pm
mindstalk: (CrashMouse)
[personal profile] mindstalk
Couple of similar articles on what to do after the breach: https://www.consumerreports.org/equifax/how-to-lock-down-your-money-after-the-equifax-breach/ and https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/your-money/identity-theft/equifaxs-instructions-are-confusing-heres-what-to-do-now.html?_r=0

They skip checking if you're affected (answer: probably yes), and recommend putting security freezes and fraud alerts on your accounts. Big three, plus this other one, Innovis? Anyway, I tried.

Equifax: fairly easy for both. Claims it will pass the alert on to the other Big Two. Their idea of a freeze PIN is amateur hour bullshit.

Experian: freeze in place for $5. Option to provide your own PIN, or accept their random 10 digit one. Rejected my alert attempt.

TransUnion: failed to do anything, even by phone. Requires making an account to try things online; rejects 21 character account passwords.

Innovis: freeze and alert in place. I was not given a freeze PIN via webpage.

I also turned on my credit card's activity alerts, and got a ShopSafe number, basically a number you can use online with its own credit sublimit and expiration date. You can have many, so in theory you could have one for each vendor or subscription. My bank doesn't do activity alerts, which has me thinking about a different bank...

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