Freesteel Blog » 2018 » October

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018 at 12:24 pm - Kayak Dive

Isle of Wight weekend tour

A quick weekend to take advantage of Becka’s trip to Southampton University to work as an examiner. Unfortunately the university library was card controlled, so I hung out in the Burgess Road Public Library skimming through a tourist book about the Isle of Wight (containing no useful information) and then reading part of a Douglas Adams book.

We drove over on the ferry on Friday afternoon to stay with an old hang-gliding buddy, who is now the last hangie on the island. This, down from a time when, during the 1980s and 1990s, one of the largest hang-glider manufactures in the world was in operation.

It was too windy for that game, and blowing from the north, so we took our kayaks, went out of Freshwater Bay and paddled to The Needles.

It seemed too windy and scary to get out to the far needle, so we got back and gave our friend a trip round the bay, then walked up to the battery to see the stunning white cliffs from another angle. It was cold and windy.

On Sunday we took the cycle trail from Newport to Sandown, emptied all our tuppences into a machine, and cycled back again, pumping up the tyres every couple miles due to a slow puncture.

I’ve been doing my best to get through the book Tailless Aircraft in theory and practice that I nicked from my friend’s bookshelf on the way out. More on this later. The mathematics in it feels a bit shoddy, which might be why I’ve never got through such engineering books before. Foundational assumptions, such as the optimality of the elliptical lift distribution, are stated in passing because the practitioners have so internalized them they don’t even notice. It’s as basic to the equations as the conventions of using (x,y,z) for the axes and t for time. Also, these engineering guys will divide anything by anything just to get a dimensionless constant.

Then on Monday I put it in practice by driving over to Treak Hill in the peak district and bombing out to the bottom landing field, while everyone else had a lovely time flying all round Mam Tour. (The airforce glider is a two person glider that also went down, because it’s quite heavy. I packed it up while the pilot went up for a proper fly.)

Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018 at 9:51 am - Whipping

Finally some clarity on the harm and dire uselessness of the stock market

This comes from three pages at the start of Chapter 21 “What Is Money For?” from the 1926 book Today and Tomorrow by Henry Ford and Samuel Crowther.

I have photographed and transcribed it, and have nothing better to add to what he said, except to observe that not one thing has changed in a hundred years, and that you don’t find business experts talking like this in modern times — probably due to the long-term re-education process by the finance industry and their deep conflicts of interest combined with a total lack of intellect.

The most common error of confusing money and business comes about through the operations of the stock market. And especially through regarding the prices on the exchange as the “barometer of business.” People are led to conclude that business is good if there is a lively gambling upward in stocks, and bad if the gamblers happen to be forcing stock prices down.

The stock market as such has nothing to do with business. It has nothing to do with quality of the article which is manufactured, nothing to do with the output, nothing to do with the marketing, it does not even increase or decrease the amount of capital used in the business. It is just a little show on the side.

It has very little to do with dividends. A large part of trading in stocks is without reference to dividends. Except with the sober investing class, the dividend is of little consequence; at least, it is not the main objective. Some of the most “active” stocks do not pay dividends. The profits sought from stock trading have no relation to the earnings of industry by the production of goods. The price of a stock often depends wholly on how many people want to buy the shares that are for sale.

The state of the stock market may make a deal of difference to the officers and directors of a company if they are dabbling in the stocks and trying to make money out of the securities of the company instead of out of its service. These stock-market companies are of little consequence: they flicker and die out. But they do serve to convince people that the stock market has something to do with business, whereas, if not a single share of stock changed hands, it would make no difference to American business. And if every share of stock changed hands tomorrow, industry would not have a cent more or a cent less capital to work with.

The whole stock activity, therefore, is on par with organized baseball, so far as the fundamental interests of business are concerned: it is a side show, unrelated to the basic principles of business and supplying none of the necessities of business. It has only a spasmodic and accidental relation to values. If the extreme speculative element were removed, the natural buying and selling of stocks would be but a mere side line of banking.

We further hold, however, that strings on a business held by those not engaged in it are hindrances, because often it compels the business to become a money-maker instead of a commodity-maker. When the chief function of any industry is to produce dividends rather than goods for use, the emphasis is fundamentally wrong. The face of the business is bowed toward the stockholder and not toward the consumer, and this means the denial of the primary purpose of industry.

The absentee stockholder is one of the principal, though concealed, items in the unnecessary and preventable costs of living.

All this is defended, of course, by the statement that stock represents a contribution to enable industry to function. The story, however, is not so simply told. When preferred stock, for example, becomes a burden on production, the benefits of industry become private instead of public, and this cannot be defended on any terms. There comes to mind an instance where a charge of fifty dollars was added to the cost of an article to meet the demands of stockholders. In another case one hundred and twenty-five dollars per article was added for the same reason.

Industry is not money — it is made up of ideas, labour, and management, and the natural expression of these is not dividends, but utility, quality, and availability. Money is not the source of any of these qualities, though these qualities are the most frequent sources of money. Any business is better off when its money comes from the buyers of its product. Such money is not a charge on the business or on the public. Money that enters in any other way becomes a charge on the business. Its main interest is its own increase, and the public never gets through paying on the original investment.

But stock speculation is not without value — some really good men lose at it and in consequence are compelled to go to work. The stock habit takes too many men’s minds off their legitimate business. Anything that drives them back to their proper sphere is a benefit. Wealth is not increased by stock activity; at best, it only changes hands. Wealth is not created; it is but a score in a game. I was once quoted as saying that the stock market was a good thing for business. The reporter omitted my reason — “because it drives so many men back to legitimate business by breaking them.”

Monday, October 22nd, 2018 at 4:33 pm - Kayak Dive

Puffin Island dive

Still not getting out much at all. Mostly just doing work (not paid of course). The time seems to go somewhere; still not sure what I’m getting done, if anything. I’m not even generating much 3D printing scrap, like I used to every week.

Anyways, we got tempted out on a kayak dive last Saturday, which went very well.

However, the point of the dive was to demonstrate kayak diving to the duttons divers, who do training in their own Vivian Quarry and run dive boat trips out to Puffin Island. We had their timetable, and they were about an hour and a half late (they were supposed to be in the water at 11am). Sometime after 12 we gave up waiting and did a dive anyway, in the drop-off on the north side of the island, in the stiff along-shore breeze. It was terrible timing. They then came by and dived without us while we were underwater. Ho hum. So I’ve failed to spread the goodness of kayak diving, as I’d hoped, because we didn’t faff enough.

Paddling back was a bit of a slog against the wind, almost making no progress across the sound past Perch Rock. Then, back on the mainland, we gave up trying to paddle up the coast to where our car was parked, landed, send Becka to get the car and bring it back, while paying the £3 car parking at the end.

Then it was back for lunch and apple pie with our friend in Menai Bridge, and then off to meet people at Vivian Quarry a couple hours later once they’d finally got off the boat and finished faffing. It was cold. We drove home, dropped me off, and Becka went off to Yorkshire to dig gravel while I washed up the gear and did another day of unaccountable work. Today I skipped a chance to go flying to watch Fahrenheit_11/9 at its single screening, which Becka thought was a bit heavy for daytime entertainment. I still feel guilty at not having gone to the People’s Vote march.

Monday, October 1st, 2018 at 3:46 pm - University

The Hague Visitation

I was over at The Hague last week for Sensible Code taking the overnight ferry instead of burning the planet with the so-cheap-and-convenient.

The highlight of the trip was a visit to RevSpace, probably the tidiest hackerspace in the world. As I cycled back to my hostel at 1am, I was wracked by the guilt that I’d walked out on two empty cans of diet coke and some crumbs at my desk space. It’s quite a nocturnal place, and I had to quickly run away before I accidentally stayed there till the sun came up.

I spent most of the evening trading tech with WJ who warmed up when I showed him how our hackspace in Liverpool manages its affairs through Github issues, and he couldn’t believe that we had things like Issue 807: “Replace the toilet seats” in public on there since last May. RevSpace doesn’t have a somebody-should/work-to-be-done list because all work has already been done as soon as somebody notices it.