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Generic Confusion

When you leave, my blog just fades to grey
Nu ma nu ma iei, nu ma nu ma nu ma iei

News? Check. Politics? Check. Music? Check. Random thoughts about life? Check. Readership? Ummm.... let me get back to you on that. Updated when I feel like I have something to say, and remember to post it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Major math fail

A contributor to the Huffington AOLpost has a very interesting comparison. The subject is the costs of two rail projects, the high speed rail he rejected and improvements to an existing and popular slow rail service.

He or she compares an annual cost of "as low as" $750,000 to a one-time cost of $12 million, and goes on to say that, with those numbers, Scott Walker is supporting spending 16 times as much. That's a major failure of mathematics. Assume both of those figures are accurate, and that there are zero cost savings from the $12 million construction. At 5% interest, a perpetuity of $750,000 has a present value of $15 million.

It's also a failure of logic. I don't expect people to understand the theory of interest. But a perpetuity is the easiest thing to calculate. The value of a perpetuity (a level stream of money) of 1 is 1/i, where i is the assumed interest rate. Still, it doesn't take a genius to understand that directly comparing a one-time cost to an annual cost makes no sense.

The bottom line: Even under the least favorable monetary calculations, Scott Walker is spending less money.


Monday, March 14, 2011

The dangers of....

Best comment of the day, at Instapundit:

Reader Andrew Medina says we’re lucky to face nuclear-plant problems, because if the tsunami had hit a solar farm instead, “10,000’s of Lbs of lead and cadmium telluride would have been swept into the Sea of Japan poisoning just about everything.”

The risks of nuclear power can't be underestimated, but this comment highlights that even the greenest source of energy is a potential toxic disaster. We shouldn't fear the risks of nuclear power, which is a lot safer than coal.


The New York Times has satellite pictures of Japan before and after the devastation wrought by the tsunami.