Actual time served

The story Statistics prove Hilton is getting a raw deal  shows the seamy underbelly of American penal system. Because convicted car-criminals aren’t considered dangerous, they usually end up serving absurdly short amount of time — even for a serious offense like driving without a license while on probation for DUI! Hilton eventually served the full 23 days — but we are told that the “normal” amount of time actually served for similarly situated (but non-celebrity) individuals is 4 days. With FOUR TIMES the number of folks being killed on the highways as by “old fashioned” murderers (roughly 40,000 versus 10,000 per year in the US) perhaps it is time to rethink the notion of who is more dangerous.

The Los Angeles Times analysed two million jail releases and identified 1,500 cases since July 2002 that involved defendants arrested for drink driving and then sentenced to jail after violating their probation by driving without a licence.
Around 60 per cent left jail after four days…

Continue reading Actual time served

Pigovian tax

Definition from wikipedia

A pigovian tax is a tax levied to correct the negative externalities of a market activity. For instance, a Pigovian tax may be levied on producers who pollute the environment to encourage them to reduce pollution, and to provide revenue which may be used to counteract the negative effects of the pollution.

The best answer to America’s “problem” with energy, and with private automobiles in particular is to simply tax (mainly fuel) to compensate for the negative externalities. Pollution, mayhem, free parking, noise — all of these have a cost which is not being paid for by their users.

See Mankiw’s ( past chairman, Council of Economic Advisers in the George W. Bush administration)  The Pigou Club Manifesto.

Money collected via such taxes would best be used to lower payroll taxes — or to lower taxes on wages and/or investment generally, as Holman Jenkins points out in his column…

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2006 Fatality Stats – preliminary

[ U P D A T E : final stats ]

NHTSA’s preliminary Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data for 2006 (a.k.a. highway traffic fatalities):

  2006 2005
alcohol-related 17,941 17,525
drunk 13,990 13,613
pedestrian 4,768 4,881
motorcyclist not yet available 4,553
pedalcyclist not yet available 784
total 43,300 43,443
     
All other transportation(e.g planes, trains)   2,193

(Figures released May 25, 2007; updated table with 2005 numbers June 16, 2007)

Continue reading 2006 Fatality Stats – preliminary

Is a Bikelane part of the Roadway?

Is a bike lane part of the roadway?

Briefly, the accepted answer in Arizona as well as everywhere in the United States except OR, is simply ‘yes‘. What follows is a possibly interesting counter-point…


Borromeo V. Shea ( to read full case, search LegalWA.org, supreme court decisions fo: Borromeo v. Shea) affirmed that the bike lane was indeed part of the roadway in the State of Washington. Washington’s definition of roadway is virtually identical to Arizona:

(WA) RCW 46.04.500 “Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk or shoulder even though such sidewalk or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles.

(AZ) §28-601(21) “Roadway” means that portion of a highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder…

The definition of vehicle, though, is completely different — in WA bikes are explicitly defined as vehicles, and in AZ they are explicitly excluded from being vehicles:

(Wash) RCW 46.04.670 “Vehicle” includes every device capable of being moved upon a public highway and in, upon, or by which any persons or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway, including bicycles

(AZ) §28-101 “Vehicle” means a device in, on or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway, excluding devices moved by human power…

The Washington Supreme Court reasoned from the plain meaning of their statutes that bike lanes are part of the roadway.

So, what about Arizona?

In Arizona, on the other hand, bicycles are clearly not vehicles and so bike lanes are clearly not “designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel” — vehicles are banned from them! [§28-815(D) ]. Thus the “plain meaning” of Arizona’s statutes indicate that bike lanes are not part of the roadway.

However, case law from the Arizona Court of Appeals found in Rosenthal v. County of Pima (local copy) that a bicyclist in a bike lane was required to follow the rules of the road (in this case, required to ride in the direction of traffic). The case seems pretty straightforward. I note that the definition of “roadway” or “vehicle” doesn’t even appear in the opinion (perhaps that is a shortcoming of the case as brought?):

(appellee’s argument that, which the trial judge agreed with) those who ride in bike paths, because they are not roadways, are not (subject to the rules of the road). The argument both defies logic and is contrary to the express statutory language of A.R.S. §§ 28-728 and 28-811.

164 Ariz. 98; 791 P.2d 365; 1990 Ariz. App.Rosenthal v. County of Pima (link to opinon on Leagle)

The twist here is that since the bicyclist was a minor, the  applicability statute cited was §28-811 , and §28-812 was not considered (also see Applicability Statutes – why are there two?). Confusingly, both say when and which statutes apply to bicyclists; 811 says that “this chapter [chapter 3 – Traffic and Vehicle Regulation] applies to a bicycle when it is operated on a highway or on a path“, whereas 812 says the rules, chapters 3, 4 and 5, apply to a “person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder” [this confusion is explained in applicability-statutes-why-are-there-two; and seems settled based on a 2013 Court of Appeals decision Arizona v. Baggett]

In any event, Rosenthal doesn’t shed any light on whether or not a bikelane is part of the roadway. Thus the “plain meaning” of Arizona’s statutes stands: bike lanes are not part of the roadway. This is not in conflict with Rosenthal, it just means that the appellee’s argument was mis-constructed from the beginning. They were apparently counting solely on 28-811, overlooking (presumably because it wasn’t helpful to the case) 28-812 entirely.

Would the outcome have been different had the cyclist not been a minor? I would think not — since the rider was definitely either “on a roadway” or “adjoining a roadway”, then 28-728 would definitely be applicable. Or another way to say it, is that it still wouldn’t matter whether or not a bike lane is or is not part of the roadway.

Tucson Bike Lane

This occurs to me later: Tucson had almost no bike lanes [as of the time this was written, in 2007. It seems it may have changed in the meantime]. They are often incorrectly called bike lanes; they are also referred to under various made-up terms like “bike shoulder”. But they are not bike lanes.

Would this matter to the case at hand? The opinion refers to a couple of times “bike lane” and other times as a “path”. But again, this doesn’t seem to have made a difference. It’s just sloppy terminology. Most likely, the collision occurred on a SHOULDER.

US CO2 Emissions down 8%?

Lies? Statistical manipulations? US CO2 emissions (which comes primarily from fossil fuel use) down 8%? — I don’t think so! Just the usual WSJ editorial spin.

Take your pick. Under the vaunted Kyoto, from 2000 to 2004, Europe managed to increase its emissions by 2.3 percentage points over 1995 to 2000. … Meanwhile, in the U.S., under the president’s oh-so-unserious plan, U.S. emissions from 2000 to 2004 were eight percentage points lower than in the prior period.

— Wall Street Journal column, June 8, 2007, Bush 1, Greens 0, by WSJ editorial board member Kimberley A. Strassel

[UPDATE: reference to data for CO2 emissions from the EPA, US Emissions Inventory 2006. 1995 was 5325 and 2004 was 5988 in metric tons. That’s a 12% increase. The inventory lists every year from 1990 to 2004 there is no way shape or form that there was any 8% decrease]

According to EIA (Table 1-3 Annual Energy Review) fossil fuel consumption was ever-increasing from 77.49 quads (quadrillion Btu’s) in 1995 to 86.23 in 2004. That is an increase of ~12%. That doesn’t account for differences in a particular fuel’s carbon content, but a casual glance at Table 1-3 shows that natural gas (the least carbon intensive of the fossil fuels) use was flat, while both coal and petroleum useage were up more.

A more recent editorial (An Inconvenient Reduction, December 3, 2007) said “The Bush Administration announced last week that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide fell by 1.8% from 2005 to 2006” (and GHGs overall were down somewhat less at 1.5% reduction). This is supposed to mean that a policy of doing nothing is superior to doing something. They go on to point out that for the period 2000 to 2005 U.S. carbon emissions were UP 2.5% vs. the EU-15 at 3.8%

I wonder what the per-capita emissions for EU vs US are? Since they (the WSJ editors) don’t want to talk about it, I’m guessing that EU is significantly below US. [UPDATE: yes, it is. At least a casual glance at the list broken down country-by-country. The large European countries all run something like 1/2(!) US’s emissions. The GDP-efficiency list is much the same story which is to say the United State’s economy is twice as energy consuming (CO2 emitting) per dollar of output.]

DUI Interlock

[update: the legislative session ended and the repeal was not enacted. In other words, the interlock will be required for all DUI offenders. Rep. John Kavanagh had a lengthy letter advocating repeal in the Tucson Citzen]

Earlier in this legislative season, AZ lawmakers passed and the governor signed a bill that requires a DUI ignition interlock device be installed for any DUI conviction. Previously interlocks were required only on repeat DUI offenders, or extreme-DUI convictions. A new bill/amendment has been introduced which would reverse the interlocks for first-time offenders. (it would be unusual to pass and rescind a law in the same legislative session)

There seems to be endless legislative fiddling with DUI penalties.

Continue reading DUI Interlock

Nettop Motherboard

(actual date Mar 14, 2009)

After my disappointment with the Amazon and the MSI Wind Nettop, I instead went with an Intel D945GCLF2 retail motherboard.

Newegg $86 w/shipping.

There are a bunch of reasons why this board works out to be cheaper than the MSI Wind: it uses standard i/o like ps2 keyboard connectors (i don’t have a spare usb keyboard), it has a parallel IDE connector (i have old, extra dvd burners and hard drives), it uses desktop ddr2 memory instead of so-dimm (i have extra of that, too). And it has a pci slot.

Power / Power Consumption

This mobo requires a standard ATX-style 24 pin (20 is ok too, just leaves the upper 4 pins open) plus a 4-pin 12V plug.

The neatest solution for power would be PicoPSU, a fan-less atx-style dc-dc converter. Mini-box.com sells them, e.g. a 60W bundle (includes the 12V dc “brick”) for $55. But I’m too cheap for that 🙂

In the meantime, I powered it with an extra, old atx power supply I have laying around. One that is already quiet, and relatively low-power.

ULtimately, at 36 Watts idling and 4W standby in windows is pretty good — though markedly higher than the MSI Wind Nettop which used only 24W/<1W.

BIOS

I couldn’t figure out what version I had, so I ran the latest from intel, version 0150 and I chose to do the windows version. I worked fine but was scarey, because the whole thing just goes dark for awhile. (though at some point when it rebooted it said checksum was invalid, and hit a key to continue).

Noise

The reviews were quite good, though a common complaint being the northbridge cooler fan (there is no cpu fan) is too noisy, a good replacement was suggested to be this $4 one: Scythe SY124010L which i probably would have ordered but was out of stock.

As promised, the northbridge cooler is pretty noisey. I tried it at 7 volts, and that was better.The color code for the cooler is white/red/black : tach/+12V/Gnd.

Speedfan sees two fans, the cooler fan jack (the 3 pin that is closer to the cpu; the motherboard says “MCH Fan”) is called Fan1 and the rear fan jack (motherboard says “sys fan”) is Fan0. The cooler fan runs at ~4400 rpm by default.

The bios has fan speed control — but here’s the catch; only “sys fan” is controlled. So I plugged the cooler into the sys fan jack, and set it to “not smart” and 50% PWM. Now it runs at 3500rpm and is pretty quiet (somewhat quieter than at 7 volts). I’ve seen some reports that say their fans won’t run at this speed, but mine seems fine.

There is much talk about the fan, see e.g. on silentpcreview. This guy is selling a Pabst 40mm fan on ebay. In any event it apparently is a standard 40mm x 10mm thick fan. And even 50%PWM or 7V is plenty to keep it cool. This guy did some heat sink mods.

Windows

Getting it booted up from usb flash drive, dvd, or hard drive was no trouble at all.

I loaded up XP Home, SP3 using an IDE DVD-ROM and a SATA notebook hard drive.That went uneventfully. At completion, many features were not working: graphics, audio, ethernet.

I ran the supplied on CD drivers install (which took a long time — 15 minutes?), and as far as i could tell everything worked great.

Windows 7 Beta

I had no luck loading the Windows 7 Beta (build 7000, 32-bit). The first phase; file copy and whatnot runs fine but once it reboots i just get the cool splash-screen and then a BSOD. I guess I could try the 64-bit, but i don’t have it downloaded. This guy says it runs fine.

MSI Wind Nettop

I bought one of the newer MSI Wind Nettop from Amazon, their description at the time said:

MSI Wind Nettop 100 Desktop PC (1.6 GHz Intel Atom  Dual Core N330 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, Barebone) Black. The price was $178 free ship which seemed pretty good.

It came in early March 2009 — despite it being on backorder, and despite amazon’s projected delivery of 3/31.

Anyway, it was a typo on Amazon’s part; it doesn’t really have Ram, or a hard drive — so I sent it back. Here is the same item at Newegg.

I can’t exactly find it on the MSI website, but this one is pretty close. The one i got definitely had the N330 Atom, though.

So while i had it, i put in a 512mb so-dimm (it only has one mem slot) and an extra 2.5″ sata hard drive. I tried out both Ubuntu live cd, and Windows XP sp3.

The only peculiarities were 1) the front sd slot isn’t available for booting (bios limitation? Which is weird, because i can boot from the sd slot in my msi wind netbook), and 2) Installstion of XP from cd booted fine from a usb dvd-rom drive, but then hung — I had to rustle up a sata drive to boot from. The sd slot wasn’t accessible to windows until i loaded the included cd of drivers.

The unit drew ~ 24 Watts running windows. Which is great.

Noisey

MSI claims that this pc is “Ultra Quiet” and “offers a true noise-free comfort even during heavy game playing or intensive computing applications“. This is not true.

The only source of noise is a 50mm(?) case fan which is controlled by the motherboard. The bios seems to have no settings for this. It only reports the fan speed. The CPU and chipset are covered by a machined aluminum heat sink.

It starts up with a brief roar, then settles down into what could be fairly described as nearly inaudible. Unfortunately the slightest activity (e.g. opening up a tab in firefox) causes the fan to speed up and become quite loud — for a minimum of a couple of minutes. then if it’s idling, the fan will revert back to nearly inaudible. It’s pretty annoying.

One ray of hope: the latest bios, 1.7 said “Fine Tune Smart Fan”. My hopes were quickly dashed when it turned out my machine already had the latest 🙁


Cycling, traffic safety, traffic justice, and legal topics; energy, transit and transportion economics