Craig Fratrik

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Wanted: Browser that uses OpenVPN for http requests

I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to set up my Asus RT-N66U router as a OpenVPN server. I flashed it with a version of Tomato USB, though you should probably use the Shibby version as it seems more up to date.

Now that I have a cool OpenVPN server, I get to decide when I hide my internet traffic from public wireless accounts. This is less important than it used to be, as more and more people are implementing https. Still there is the occasional holdout, and it would be nice if other people couldn’t sniff your traffic.

What I really would like is a browser plugin that let me direct http requests through the OpenVPN server, but would send https directly, for performance reasons. Does anything like this exist? 5 min of googling yielded nothing.

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Evaluating Government Stimulus

Marginal Revolution has the goods: Chris House on stimulus spending.

All programs should meet the cost/benefit calculation. Many object to such calculations to start with. Chris House’s post is addressed who think that the calculation should be changed when fiscal stimulus is necessary. Concerning the classic hole digging hypothetical, it’s pointed out that the world would be better if you just paid the individuals, instead of paying them to do useless work.

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Stories and Science

Universal Preschool has been in the news recently. I remember a very compelling Planet Money episode from a couple years ago. It tells a very convincing story.

Over at Brookings, Russ Whitehurst dives into the science. You really should go read it. Here is his conclusion.

This doesn’t mean that we ought not to spend public money to help families with limited financial resources access good childcare for their young children. After all, we spend tax dollars on national parks, symphony orchestras, and Amtrak because they make the lives of those who use them better today. Why not childcare?

It does mean that we need public debate that recognizes the mixed nature of the research findings rather than a rush to judgment based on one-sided and misleading appeals to the preponderance of the evidence.

It is very hard to separate the stories we tell ourselves from the way we evaluate

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Decode DC misses a mark

Decode DC is generally a very good podcast. They do a good job trying to report deeper than is typical with political coverage.

However, the recent episode that described the fight over the stimulus doesn’t do justice to critics. The Untold Story of the Stimulus. Seabrook says that economists “across the spectrum” were recommending a big stimulus bill. This paints the Democrats recommending 1.7T in stimulus as the reasonable ones, and their opponents as totally unreasonable. I don’t think this does justice to the many economists who opposed the spending. For one example (taking from a recent post, not at the time), see Scott Sumner.

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Taco Cabana Expansion

Matthew Yglesias has the goods.

When a TC comes near you, make sure to take advantage of the Queso and tortillas. They were a hit at Rice.

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Adam Savage - Kids and Sex and the Internet

This is a very self-reflective story by Adam Savage for The Moth.

I think he does a great job of describing a parent’s goals: affecting the code your children run. It highlights the limitations, that you can’t control all the code. Do go ahead and listen.

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