22 May 2008

Back in NY

    New York, New york
    Does it feel right?
    Does it taste light?
      Deborah Harry and Moby

Right now I am under the Hudson river. Literally. On on the NJ Transit 7:30 New Brunswick express out of NY Penn Station... wait... yup, back in NJ.

I'm back working in the city, though not much fun in it I have to say. Fixing someone else's "Heart of Darkness" code. It's scary stuff - 1200 excruciating lines of SQL that could make your eyes bleed. It took me a day just to figure out what the hell it was trying to do, then a day just to figure out what I might be able to do with it.

One little positive is that I get to ride in one of these:

The new (for me) NJ Transit Bi-Level cars. I admit it - train geek am I. As evidence, I will note that having ridden twice now, I've made a point of trying both the upper and lower level. There is actually something of a difference. The upper level feels a little smoother. Being up that high makes things a little more scenic. In contrast, the lower level feels faster. I think it feels faster because you're closer to the ground. When you're at a platform, you eye-level with people's feet, it's cool watching the edge of the platform speed by when moving. The new seats are nice, also. With the low ceiling, there's almost this airplane vibe going on. Definitely the way to commute to the city.

Anyway, we're going through Edison, so my stop's coming up. Time to publish and pack up.

02 May 2008

Buyer's remorse for the obsessive

    Does that make me crazy?
      Gnarls Barkley

Okay, I admit it, this is just a little obsessive on my part. We just got the new Gnarls Barkley album, The Odd Couple. It's great, a worthy follow-up to St. Elsewhere, and lives up to my expectations. Except....

You see, on the album, "Run" just fades in from silence. It doesn't have that "kick-off" beginning that you hear on the radio and in the video. This kept bugging me throughout the rest of the track, sort of like Roger Rabbit with the unfinished shave-and-a-haircut. (TWO BITS!).

I went a-googling and found out "Run [Radio Edit]" is what I was missing. A little more googling and I found it online for £0.79. Yep, it's only available in the U.K. But hey, they take PayPal, and PayPal handles the exchange rate (currently $.50 = £1.00). That's a little more than the iTunes $0.99 songs, but it's also a 256K MP3 I can use anywhere. I figured what the heck and embraced our global economy.

The radio edit is playing right now. I have no regrets.

01 May 2008

Bad gas holiday

    This isn’t an idea designed to get you through the summer, it’s an idea designed to get them through an election.
      Barack Obama

It turns out that economists think the so-called gas tax holiday is a really bad idea.

I think it's crap. It's the kind of shameless pandering I expect from McCain, and now Clinton gave me one more reason to be glad I voted for Obama. Regarding the gas tax holiday, Obama had this to say:

It would last for three months and it would save you on average half a tank of gas, $25 to $30. That’s what Senator Clinton and Senator McCain are proposing to deal with the gas crisis. This isn’t an idea designed to get you through the summer, it’s an idea designed to get them through an election.

Spot on, as usual.

Better yet, many economists don't think we'll even see that half-tank of gas. Suspending the gas tax won't have any effect on the gasoline supply. However, demand will increase and with it, the price at the pump. We will end up spending just as much money on gasoline, except now more of that money goes to oil producers.

As Paul Krugman said on this issue, "It’s Econ 101: the tax cut really goes to the oil companies."