Race riots

Reading the news coming out of the US about the protests fills me with dismay, not only for the senseless death and repression, but for how helpless I feel to assist.

It’s tempting to think we’re isolated from this sort of thing over here, but our society’s treatment of our Aboriginal Australian sisters and brothers is equally reprehensible. As too is Singapore and Malaysia’s attitudes to their foreign workers, many of whom risk and lose their lives to send remittances home to their families.

Earlier this year Australia was on fire for months due to climate change people are too stubborn to accept, stingy to address, or lazy to act upon. The COVID situation demands respect and directions from medical staff, social distancing, and responsible testing, which some have openly defied. The deplorable actions being protested about by those American patriots are borne of the same selfishness, willful ignorance, and small-minded callousness that even the word racist can’t fully encompass.

The message we should take from 2020: treat everyone like human beings with needs, hopes, and potential. If you disagree, you’re part of the problem. Few things are as black and white.


Music Monday: Japanese aviation fuel train

This video by うえP (UEP) shows an US Army aviation fuel transport train that runs in from the Tsurumi Oil Storage Facility (Azumi Station on the Tsurumi Line) to the US Army Yokota Air Base (Haijima Station on the Ome Line).

Normally I don’t get video recommendations because I only access YouTube via a proxy, but it was immediately under the live video feed I may or may not be watching continuously.

Play 【米軍燃料輸送】米タンの入れ替えを安善駅で観察【JR貨物】

I’m tenuously counting this as a Music Monday, because the opening background tune is lovely.


SpaceX Crew Dragon docks with the ISS

I had some late night work to do this evening. Witnessing such a momentus occasion as I typed away back here on Earth was worth it :).


Screenshots from the NASA feed via @LanceUlanoff.


Wealth inequality and falling interest rates

Anna Stansbury and Lawrence H. Summers wrote a paper for the American National Bureau of Economic Research this month, titled: The Declining Worker Power Hypothesis: An Explanation for the Recent Evolution of the American Economy. You can buy a PDF version for $5.

Rising profitability and market valuations of US businesses, sluggish wage growth and a declining labor share of income, and reduced unemployment and inflation, have defined the macroeconomic environment of the last generation. This paper offers a unified explanation for these phenomena based on reduced worker power. Using individual, industry, and state-level data, we demonstrate that measures of reduced worker power are associated with lower wage levels, higher profit shares, and reductions in measures of the NAIRU.

As an aside, I had to check what NAIRU was. According to Investopedia:

The non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment (NAIRU) is the specific level of unemployment that is evident in an economy that does not cause inflation to increase. In other words, if unemployment is at the NAIRU level, inflation is constant. NAIRU often represents the equilibrium between the state of the economy and the labor market.

Tyler Cowen from Marginal Revolution quoted Larry Summers and Anna Stansbury’s responses to the paper, where they draw a connection between wealth inequality and falling interste rates. Emphasis added.

If corporate profits are so high, how is this consistent with the persistently low demand postulated by Summers’ “secular stagnation” hypothesis?

Secular stagnation as we think of it is the product of a rising gap between the desire to save and the desire to invest (which, in an IS-LM type framework, would push down the neutral real interest rate).

Falling worker power redistributes income from lower and middle-income people to the rich. The rich have a higher propensity to save. Thus, falling worker power increases the desire to save relative to the desire to invest. Rising inequality has been posited by several authors as a contributor to the declining neutral real interest rate (see e.g. Smith and Rachel 2015). Under this view, secular stagnation is exemplified by low private return to capital investment – but, in a noncompetitive world, this may or may not be the same thing as an abnormally low profit rate or capital share.

This is also why stimulus spending is most effective being targeted at people at lower income levels. It’s not just the most ethical thing to do, it will have the most immediate economic impact.


Rubenerd Show 410: The apothecary coffee episode

Rubenerd Show 410

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

25:23 – Not knowing a place till you leave it, the fascinating triangular windows of the old Belle Vue in Singapore, faded knock-off Lego blocks, Albert Einstein’s travels, finding new coffee shops, apothecary tables, government posters, a 1990s-era glass foyer, and a borderline rant on my butterfly Apple keyboard. Recorded early May 2020.

Recorded in Sydney, Australia. Licence for this track: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Attribution: Ruben Schade.

Released May 2020 on The Overnightscape Underground, an Internet talk radio channel focusing on a freeform monologue style, with diverse and fascinating hosts; this one notwithstanding.

Subscribe with iTunes, Pocket Casts, Overcast or add this feed to your podcast client.


Shinjuku station in Fate/Grand Order

Speaking of Japanese trains! I was farming Fate/Grand Order quartz yesterday, like a gentleman, and came across this Shinjuku train station setting:

Screenshot from the game, showing a train indicator sign.

The circled red M would be the Tōkyō Metro Marunouchi Line. Maybe the green square could be the JR Yamanote Loop Line, and the blue bar could be the Chūō Main Line. The others I’m not sure about; there isn’t a purple JR line serving that station, or a circled T line on the Tōkyō Metro or Toei Subway.


Custom tab completions in oksh

A chat with @zoomosis made me realise that I never talked about oksh’s tab completion, which is half the reason I use and spruik it as a daily driver shell.

For a recap, I moved to oksh on my Macs and BSD boxes so I could keep roughly the same .kshrc config on each machine I own, even my ancient nostalgia boxes. FreeBSD notably doesn’t include a Kornshell, but macOS and NetBSD do. oksh adds a couple of nice features, while still being fast and lightweight.

oksh’s tab completion is the other reason. Using set statements you can define tab completions for commands you specify. I like to keep these in a separate file, and reference it in my .kshrc:

[ -f ~/.oksh_completions ] && . ~/.oksh_completions

The syntax is simple. Here are some common FreeBSD commands:

set -A complete_geli -- attach backup configure detach
set -A complete_iocage -- create destroy fetch get list rename restart set start stop
set -A complete_pkg -- clean info install lock search unlock update upgrade
set -A complete_pkgin -- autoremove avail install full-upgrade pkg-info remove search update
set -A complete_zfs -- clone create list receive send set snapshot
set -A complete_zpool -- create export import scrub set

Because it’s a shell script, you could do this for SSH hosts:

_SSH_HOSTS=$(awk '/^Host/{ print $2 }' ~/.ssh/config)
set -A complete_mosh -- $_SSH_HOSTS
set -A complete_scp -- $_SSH_HOSTS
set -A complete_ssh -- $_SSH_HOSTS

And for services:

_SERVICES=$(ls -1 /etc/rc.d/)
    
case `uname` in
    FreeBSD)
        _SERVICES="$_SERVICES $(ls -1 /usr/local/etc/rc.d/)"
esac

There’s a lot you could configure here, and I’ve probably only scratched the surface.


NetBSD used to default to csh

I suppose it makes sense, but I never thought about it:

csh(1) (‘C’ shell): This was the standard user shell until NetBSD 4.0, it supports filename completion (‘set filec’ and use the ESCAPE key) but does not support command line editing.

Some of my machines had NetBSD prior to version 4, but at the time I didn’t really understand the difference between all the different *nix shells one could use. All I knew was my professor telling me to use ksh so I could get command line history and tab completion… but then, didn’t csh do some of this?

I got pretty good at tcsh from using FreeBSD and early releases of macOS, and can still recite the set/setenv lines I had in my dotfiles for it. But I run ksh everywhere I can now, specifically oksh from the OpenBSD project. Using pdksh on NetBSD on the weekend made me feel right at home.

(As an aside, you really owe it to yourself to try oksh, especially if you come from the Linux world and either assume bash, or immediately reach for it from packages when trying another *nix. It’s pretty cool, especially how you can extend its tab completions. That’s for another post).

I know the whole thing about csh programming considered harmful, but dare I say I found scripting in it easier than the Bourne shell family too. Maybe it was down to not hitting many edge cases, and delegating to Perl when things got complex enough to warrant functions, etc.


Costa Rica recognises marriage equality

It’s some welcome good news in the fog, and announced by a President on Twitter no less! Translated from Carlos Alvarado Quesada’s original Spanish:

Costa Rica officially recognises equal marriage. Today we celebrate freedom, equality and our democratic institutions. May empathy and love be the compass that allow us to get ahead and build a country where all people fit.

Imagine having a leader who spoke like that.


It’s Alive! Brussel sprout kimchi

Play Brad Makes Brussels Sprout Kimchi | It's Alive | Bon Appétit

Brad’s It’s Alive! videos have been such a wonderful ray of sunshine in these troubled times. Claire’s videos too, now that I think about it.

Let’s spread the love together… bon appétit!