Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Tyler McHenry
1,215 followers -
Professional Nerd
Professional Nerd

1,215 followers
About
Posts

Post has shared content
all the fish, etc.
Sad day.

The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations. Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
In September, Jenn and I spent a few days on the Big Island, staying on the Kona side and just missing the effects of Hurricane Olivia, which skirted the north side of the island the day before we arrived.

In the beach by our resort (pictured in the cover photo below), I was finally able to snorkel with sea turtles, something I had tried and failed to do on previous trips to Hawaii. The turtles also beached themselves at night, right next to the resort's outdoor dining area, while manta rays put on a show in the water behind them.

We also went to the interior of the island to hike some trails leading out to kipukas (vegetated areas surrounded by old lava fields), and took a scenic drive up through the Kohala mountains. While the Kona side of the island remained sunny, true to form, the Hilo side was grey and raining, so there was nothing photogenic in our excursions to the north and east.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
In late June, Jenn and I visited Formentera, Spain: one of the Balearic islands in the Mediterranean, and I believe the smallest with a permanent population.

Then, after swimming and relaxing on idyllic beaches for the better part of a week, we flew to the German-Austrian border and commenced a bicycling tour down the Danube River, covering more than 200 miles in 6 days of cycling, stopping along the way to visit lots of little towns, and many ornate, historic castles, churches and abbeys.

After arriving in Vienna, we stayed there for several days, visiting a number of museums, as well as major sites like Stephansdom and the Schönbrunn Palace (almost exactly 17 years after the first time I had been there), and sampling several world-class restaurants. TIAN, a Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant was especially impressive.

The cover photo below is among my favorite photos I have ever taken. It is the sun setting over the Danube, shot from our balcony at Hotel Donauschlinge. The happenstance presence of the silhouetted fisherman was just perfect timing.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Uber effectively designed a fail-deadly system. Their self-driving car was performing badly: it was emergency braking when it shouldn't have been. This annoyed them and made their demos look bad, so their solution was to turn off the emergency brake.

When emergency braking became necessary, the car was programmed to do nothing and keep driving, hoping that the human monitor would take care of it. The human monitor who has a substantially slower reaction time than the software, and who is distracted by babysitting the diagnostics.

Forget about whether Uber's self-driving cars should be allowed back on the road -- Someone should go to jail for this level of willful negligence.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Let's talk about price gouging for a minute. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, you've probably seen some reports and/or photos of heavily marked up essential items in the Houston area: up to $99 for a case of water, up to $10 for a gallon of gasoline, and so on.

The natural immediate reaction to price gouging is an emotional one: disgust. How dare these greedy businesses turn a profit on the backs of those suffering from a massive disaster! But if you're someone who has studied or even casually read up on economics, you probably also had a secondary reaction that may have seemed more level-headed and rational: Aren't higher prices just the natural result of massively increased demand and limited supply? Is that actually bad?

Yes, it is. I'd like to explain why your first reaction was the right one, and why its superiority isn't just an appeal to emotion.

First, let's talk about assumptions. There is no natural law of the universe that says free market economics are the preferred solution to all problems. Market-based systems do a very good job of solving classes of problems that involve optimizing for aggregate efficiency, but they do a pretty poor job at adequately solving other classes of problems where individual human outcomes matter, or where there are significant externalities to worry about. See: fire departments, social welfare services, etc. So it certainly shouldn't be taken as a given that just because a market-based system would produce a certain outcome, that is the preferred outcome. Handling disaster relief is a far different scenario than day-to-day commerce, and it would take quite a lot of evidence to convince me that disaster relief is a problem best solved by free markets.

But I've heard another argument: Raising prices prevents hoarding. (I'll assume for the moment that it actually does and get back to that later.) Here's where we need to think about outcomes. We shouldn't just do something because it would have an effect, we should do something because the effect would be the outcome we want. Here, hoarding has been correctly identified as a less than ideal outcome, and by raising prices the merchants have avoided that outcome and installed a different outcome in its place. The new outcome is that those who are able and willing to spend more money have easier access to essential supplies. That's a different outcome, but is it a better outcome?

There is no inherent reason why taking action is better than not taking action. Sometimes you shouldn't just do something, you should stand there. In this case, through either action (gouging) or inaction (not gouging), the merchants pick winners and losers. The winners are either those who show up first, or those who have the most available money. I don't see any good argument for why one of these two arbitrary groups of people is more deserving of survival than the other.

And the idea that gouging even prevents hoarding at all is questionable. This claim is based on the assumption that willingness to pay is a reasonable proxy for need. But the first thought about how the marginal utility of money quickly diminishes as one accumulates more of it shows how flawed an idea that actually is. Given the wealth disparity in the US, there's no possible price that can be set where a poor person would be able to fulfill a dire need and yet a rich person would not be willing to pay the same price to fulfill a minor need.

So what is the right answer? The right answer is that in an unavoidable rationing scenario, it is best to have a system where necessary supplies can be distributed based on actual apparent need, or at least based on random lottery. But this kind of a system requires preparedness. It requires a government which is willing to plan, prepare, and fund serious disaster relief efforts in advance.

Unfortunately, we live in a country that prefers to spend its wealth largely on things other than the welfare of its citizens, and to outsource great swathes of the responsibility for disaster relief to private charities and businesses. In this country, our actual realistic options, like hoarding and gouging, may all be bad. But some of them are both bad and greedy. It is right to be disgusted when that sort of option is chosen, and it is right to condemn it and insist on punishment.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
This weekend I took a break from civilization and went to go hide in the woods for a bit. I visited Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to the Avenue of the Giants: a scenic parallel to US 101 that meanders through enormous coastal redwood forests. But as nice as the drive is, if you stop hike away from the road for a while, you will find yourself in some breathtaking places.

I had very briefly dipped my toe into Sequoia National Park back in 2005 as a side stop on a different trip, and there I had seen a handful of Giant Sequoias (a similar but distinct species from Coastal Redwoods), however spending two full days hiking along rivers and through groves filled with these giants of nature was a new and thoroughly impressive experience.

We hiked a length of Bull Creek and visited the Rockafeller, Big Tree, Sephens, Children's Forest, Founders, Mahan, Grieg-French-Bell and Drury-Cheney groves covering a total of about seventeen miles of trails, much of it with our heads craned up in awe.

See also, Jenn's photos: https://goo.gl/photos/XayF1JurBA16ScNr5
Add a comment...

Post has shared content
Maybe next time call ahead?
Sunnyvale DPS headquarters is being evacuated and will be closed indefinitely. A citizen brought ammunition and grenades into the headquarters lobby for disposal. 911 services are in the process of being moved to County Communications. A bomb squad is enroute. Please stay away from the area.

Um. I'm glad the grenades were turned over to authorities, but...
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Last month I visited Yellowstone National Park. The landscapes were more gorgeous than I could have imagined, the land was teeming with animals of all sizes, and the thermal features created a surreal but captivating mosiac of bubbling water, colorful algae, rising steam, and the faint odor of sulphur.

Jenn and I spent about five days exploring the major thermal attractions, the lake, and the canyon, and then another five days day-hiking in the Mammoth, Tower, and Lamar areas (in the North where nearly all of the low-altitude snow had already melted). We traversed upwards of sixty miles on foot during the trip.

I shot a few thousand photos, and here are about one hundred of them.
Yellowstone
Yellowstone
photos.google.com
Add a comment...

Post has shared content
Jenn's photos from our recent adventure. Mine to come soonish.
May 18 - May 28, 2017. Photos from our trip to Yellowstone, with captions.
Yellowstone (public)
Yellowstone (public)
photos.google.com
Add a comment...

Post has shared content
This is at most one third of the people who turned out to a town hall of a Democratic congressman in a Democratic district on a Wednesday night. This is the overflow room, which itself overflowed, and was later culled after being declared a fire hazard.

These people weren't there to be angry and protest and complain -- they were merely there to speak with their representative and to remind him that his constituents are paying attention. If Trump's election has done one good thing, it is to ignite an unprecedented level of civic engagement.
Ro Khanna town hall in Fremont. Over a thousand people attended, but the room booked for the event was vastly inadequate for the size of the crowd. A second room was filled wall to wall, and we listened to the district director talk for a bit before law enforcement chased us out along with all standing occupants without a chair.

I would've liked to solicit Ro's opinion on the recent ICE raids and ask if he plans to oppose funding the plans detailed in the new DHS memos. (Ro is on the house budget committee.) Regardless of the poor end to the evening, it was still quite heartening to see the enthusiasm of the attendees.
Photo
Add a comment...
Wait while more posts are being loaded