Tag Archives: Economy

It’s Not The Economy, Stupid!

Both candidates for President have tried to frame the economy as being the most important issue. This is an assumption that is carried forward into mainstream news media, and just about every corner of political commentary.

But is the economy really how any of us are going to make our decision for president? Personally, I don’t buy it, and I think most of the reasons we vote for one guy or the other have little to do with the issues as everyone wants to frame them.

First off, many of us simply vote party lines. We’d rather vote for a dead republican than a live democrat. Now one could argue that we some of us choose the party we’re affiliated with because of economic philosophies, but those are general principles  not specific to an election cycle.

Many people don’t want to vote for Obama because he’s black, Muslim and not born in this country. Hopefully these people are in the minority, but there has been enough nonsense tossed around about these issues by news outlets like Fox News that more people believe them than ever should.

Many people have other wedge issues, abortion, gun rights that trump everything else.

Many people are uncomfortable with the fact Romney is Mormon. If you’re the kind of guy who makes his decision based on who you can have a beer with, or even coffee, Romney’s not your man. And I do think that there is a difference between evangelical Christianity and Mormonism  one that makes a lot of conservative Christians less than comfortable with him.

Many of us just don’t like the other guy’s personality. We think Obama is cold and a technocrat, and we think Romney is an arrogant jackass.

Most of us have still had jobs these last four years. As concerned as we might be about the economy in general, and whatever scares we might have been through, the story for the majority of Americans is one of continued employment. I’m not saying you can’t still be worried about the economy if you have a job, but I do think it leaves you more open to other factors in making your decision.

Many of us are concerned about international relations more than social issues. Iran is a threat and Syria is a human rights debacle. We want someone who is tough on our enemies  and doesn’t piss off our allies.

And lastly, most of us made up our mind about who to vote for months ago. In these last two weeks the candidates are fighting for an incredibly small but valuable piece of the pie. But even undecided voters will probably make their decision for a lot of the reasons I expressed above. It’s not like we don’t know both side’s opinion on how to handle the economy. In the end we just have to go with our gut.

Politics is sports, we root for the home team no matter how they are doing. Who won these debates is largely determined by who you liked in the first place. We cheer for our guy, and can’t believe how people could ever like the other guy. Its 6:28am and Romney still sucks, etc. We like to think that we are making these decisions for important reasons, and many of us are, just not the ones the candidates want to think we are.

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The Gigabyte Tax

Image Courtesy of XKCD

Hard drive and flash drive manufacturers are taxing your devices. It’s insidious and I think the public has a right to know the two ways your drive is being taxed!

Ever notice that the size of a folder is sometimes smaller than the size it takes up on the disk? You can see the truth in this by looking at the properties of any file or folder. The reason is the size of your file chunks. See, a file is not stored right next to another file or even all the pieces of itself. It’s broken up into buckets of the same size. For big files the empty space in these buckets is small but for small files it can add up quick.

These chunks can’t have pieces of two different files inside them, and the chunks must all be the same size. NTFS, the standard file system on Windows hard drives, has chunks of 4 kilobytes. Many programs have thousands of tiny files, storing settings and other data. Let’s say we have 1024 one kilobyte files, or one megabyte. Since each file needs its own bucket, and the buckets are 4 kilobytes in size, our 1 megabyte of files takes up 4 times as much space. On flash drives there is even more wasteful storage spending, with chunk sizes of 16 or 32 kilobytes. Our 1 meg in files can take up as much as 32! (For CDs and DVDs this is not true since they use a file system that uses every bit of space).

But that’s only one tax you have to pay. When you buy an 8 gigabyte flash drive what you get is only about 7.47 gigabytes. That’s a more than 6% tax! It gets even worse at higher capacities. I bought one 64Gb drive that was 59.5Gb and the same brand a month or so later and only got 57.5! That’s a 33% tax increase in a month, raising my rates to more than 10%!

See drive makers aren’t using the engineering definition of a gigabyte. They’re selling you a GB not a Gb. A GB may be a 1000 megabytes instead of 1024, or even less. My own hard drive tax is 200Gb+. That’s 250 movies or 1000s of songs and pictures.

However you vote this November, make sure they are willing to sign a pledge to stem the tide of the gigabyte tax. It hurts small businesses and digital hoarders everywhere.


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