Saturday, March 26, 2005

'The ingenuity of drug traffickers is amazing,'

Really??? That's a big surprise...

That quote if from a story on about an under-construction submarine that was confiscated by Colombian police.

Of course the ingenuity of drug traffickers is amazing--they're motivation is profit. This "amazing" ingenuity is exactly why the War on Drugs has never worked and will never get any more successful.

Drug traffickers have as their motivation profit--what could be a more tried and true motivation for accomplishing anything? Some might suggest patriotism, and I would agree, but only if the patriotism is actually patriotism and not nationalism, and even then only for a brief period of time (maybe enough to win a revolution, but then not much longer).

So this story illustrates two things:
  1. Profit is the best motivation for accomplishing almost anything.
  2. The War on Drugs will never be successful.
Translation: "yes" to free markets, "no" to War on Drugs.

Friday, March 25, 2005

One of my biggest driving petpeeves

Like most people, there are many things that bother me while driving. But this has got to be one of my biggest petpeeves.

This image to the left shows a two-lane roadway under normal, everybody is happy conditions. Sure, the road is wide, but the cars know that since there are no white dashed lines subdividing their respective lane, they must drive in a single file.

The image to the right, however, illustrates my petpeeve. It occurs when drivers IGNORE THE LACK OF WHITE DASHED LINES and decide to form two lanes on their own. Such behavior on the roads will lead to chaos!

These de facto lanes usually form when some impatient driver decides that, "Well, the road is wide, so that must mean there are multiple lanes." That driver then tries to pass other drivers on the right. This is horrible!

I can't stand it. So I try to be a vigilante and behave like the green car in the image on the right. I try to just drive in the middle of the lane to prevent cars from passing on the right or left. But that rarely works. Other drivers assume I'm the stupid one and pass me regardless.

The only time you can drive next to someone is when there are marked lanes, as shown in the image to the left. That's it!

Please fellow more de facto lanes!

UPDATE: For comments, see the original blog post here.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Speaking of libertarian presidents...

Tim West at Liberty for Sale muses on the possiblity of a Bob Barr presidential candidacy for the Libertarian Party in 2008 here.

Meanwhile, Stephen Gordon points to the possibility of former Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Ed Thompson running for something in the future.

Hmmm...two legitimate potential candidates...this is interesting. Bob Barr was a Republican representative for the 7th District of Georgia from 1995 to 2003. There's more information on Bob Barr here.

Ed Thompson ran for governor of Wisconsin as a Libertarian in 2002 and got over 10% of the vote.

A Barr/Thompson ticket for presidency could finally elevate the LP to a legitimate party in the eyes of the national media. Sure, Barr's not perfect, but so what.

UPDATE: For comments, see the original blog post here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Libertarians need passionate people

Libertarians need someone like the character Richard Schiff plays on the West Wing. Someone that's passionate to a fault about libertarianism.

But not because libertarianism is so philosophically consistent. But because the implementation of libertarian policies can actually help people's lives.

That may sound a little Wellstonian, but it's what Libertarians need to shed their stereotype of being objective, emotionless squares.

A libertarian-leaning president?

The character Alan Alda plays (the Republican nominee for president) on The West Wing, is being made out to be a pretty libertarian-leaning Republican. Anti-tax, pro-business, pro-choice, pro-environment....Okay, maybe that's more centrist, but it's certainly closer to libertarian than George Bush or almost any other prominent Republican around today.

Too bad real Republicans aren't really like that.

Why so many nerds are libertarians

Have you ever noticed that a disproportionate amount of so-called "nerds" are libertarians? Why is that?

Here's my take: because nerds, after at least a year's worth of physics, actually understand the principles of conservation:

You know; the conservation of energy, the conservation of mass, the conservation of momentum, etc.

Nerds understand that you can't get something for nothing. And so do libertarians.

But most politicians don't get it. They're constantly offering something for nothing. They're constantly offering government programs and regulations that address the latest media-hyped problem du jour.

If only they'd get it...You can't get something for nothing. You can't generate wealth with programs and regulations. You can only generate wealth from one source--human labor.

Think about it. The world exists. Everything that's here has always been here. The only new thing that's added to Earth is life (which is essentially energy transformed from matter). And only human life is capable of *innovation*. Innovation (via human labor) allows life (humans) to further transorm meaningless matter into meaningful matter.

Think of it like this: humans are essentially potential energy. The potential is essentially limitless, especially when you consider the fact that there are over 6 billion humans with innovative capacity.

Human labor is that energy in motion--it's kinetic energy. And the result of human labor is wealth (new products, new ideas, new materials, etc.)

Wealth, then, is essentially potential energy. It's the energy that's not wasted after our potential energy is transormed into kinetic energy.

So there you go. The only thing that adds potential wealth-generating energy to this Earth is human labor.

So why would you tax the only thing on this *planet* that is capable of generating wealth (and increasing the standard of living for all people)?

I don't know. That's why I'm a libertarian.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Pop can tops--notoriously unusable

Pop can top (current design)Who hasn't had trouble opening a pop can top? Unless you have strong, claw-like fingernails, opening a can of pop can be unnecessarily difficult. Sure, sometimes you just happen to get your finger underneath the tab, but invariably the task is way more difficult than it has to be.

Pop can top (with added indentation)So, here's my proposed solution. Simply "extend" the groove that runs around the circumference of the top of the can so that it goes underneath the tab, thereby allowing the user ample room to get their finger underneath the tab. Sure, this may introduce some manufacturing complexities, but I can't imagine it's not possible.

Interestingly, Norman's four crietria for usable designs don't really tell the whole story, though: For the current design, we can observe the following:
  • Conceptual model - good; the "perforated" edges of the tab over part that gets opened lets users know that this part is meant to be opened)
  • Visibility - good; you can see everything you need to open the can easily
  • Feedback - good; you know when you're [not] opening the can
  • Mapping - good; nothing too tricky here
Even if we look at Norman's affordances, we still don't get a good explanation for why the pop can top is unusable. After all, the tab clearly affords to be's just too hard to get underneath it with your fingers.

So, in the sense that the pop can behaves without any surprises, the design is usable; it behaves as we expect. But in the sense that we can't open the can, it's clearly unusable overall.

I'm tired.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

First post! First post!

This "blog," as it were, will highlight some examples of physical, tangible products that are either highly usable or highly unusable...according to me, that is.

UPDATE: For comments, see the original blog post here.