good site to see how the
GOP tax bill may affect you. all this stuff is way complicated and differs
a lot from individual to individual, even if you're making the same amount,
but it's a good place to start. basically, 75% of people are going to get
a tax cut for at least the next 8 years. after that, who knows.
what's interesting to me
is to see where people come down on this bill as it's a real intersection
of principles vs. individual interests. let's say you are one of the 75%
of people who is going to get less of your paycheck taken by the federal
government as a result of this plan. that would seemingly make you like
the plan. however, that gets complicated because some people (like me)
are more afraid of the added debt that the federal government is racking
up than we are interested in the projected $1900 savings that i'll get
from this bill. my principles are that we need to collectively stop taking
so many deductions (including the mortgage interest deduction which i use)
and start getting our yearly defiicts in order. republicans used to claim
they were for this, but, in reality, they lower taxes and increase spending
basically every chance they get. they lowered taxes under reagan, W, and
now trump. they increased deficits under reagan, W, and probably now trump.
one argument a lot of conservatives
will use when a tax cut goes through is this: if you're such a liberal
person and you want the government to take more money so it can afford
more social programs, then why don't you just write a check to the treasury?
i don't think the argument makes all that much sense because i think the
liberal position is that we should all pitch in and pay what we can to
help those who can't help themselves. it kinda only works if we all do
it and we're not all going to do it unless we're forced.
personally i wish the federal
government did less. if it did less then we could pay the same taxes and
not have the debt hanging over us all the time. i
net neutrality seems to
be the big story lately. i think it should be the law, but i find it a
bit odd because that's not how things currently are. there are a couple
providers that allow you to stream on youtube (or whatever site/service
they choose) without it counting against your mobile data plan. i'm not
sure how this is any different from a non-net neutral situation. giving
away some for free is the same as charging for others and is arguably worse
that throttling the speed for some sites. i mostly think that this will
be solved by the market and/or the states so i'm not as worried as most
heavy internet users seem to be.
something else i've seen
lately is talk about home broadband access as a human right. i've written
about this before in the context of the creeping notion of "rights" as
basically anything that people in the western world think is good to have
(health insurance, internet access, etc.). i think internet access is potentially
extremely beneficial for individuals and i'm all for it being in as many
places as possible for as cheaply as possible. that said, i think it's
interesting that people who talk about this often talk about it in terms
of "broadband access at home." this is different from "internet access."
it seems that most people these days access the internet on their phone
as much or more than at home. so, if you're arguing that internet access
in the country is awful then you use the metric "broadband access at home,"
but if you're trying to assess actual internet access per individual you
should use the broader definition of "internet access."
a big problem in politics
10 years ago was the idea that money bought elections. then citizens united
came along and (often liberal) people (including me) were very upset about
this. but as it turns out, money doesn't really determine the outcome as
much as we thought. money doesn't buy elections: one, two, three. trump
is the big example of this. he was outspent by all sorts of candidates
including jeb and hillary and still won.
roy moore was outspent
10:1 and barely lost. here's how the coverage of that election actually
went: "republicans would rather vote for a pedophile than a democrat."
and "better thank blacks for turning out and electing doug jones instead
of the pedophile." now, i have no love for roy moore or any of his policies,
but this is just the dumbest possible way to interpret the election. republican
turnout was quite low relative to 2016. this effect was especially true
in the more educated republican districts, which were more likely to vote
for jones than for hillary in 2016. so, a lot of republican voters didn't
bother to vote at all, of those who did, a lot more voted for write-in
candidates than in the past, and the more educated ones tended to vote
for jones. this reality doesn't comport with the narrative that evil republicans
like pedophiles more than democrats. further, jones was a particularly
bold choice for democrats and hard pill to swallow for republicans primarily
because he supports abortion rights. if you look at the election in a more
nuanced way then it's not quite as easy to simply say that alabama republicans
are pedophile supporters. as i mentioned before, you only need to imagine
being in their shoes to understand the closeness of the race. factor in
the other items mentioned above and it all makes for a more nuanced story.
usc won the pac-12 championship
so that's good news. good team this year overall. they had some injuries
to the o-line and both their lines actually had a few rough games, but
they lost to two pretty good teams so i think they're back to competing
at a high level again and last year wasn't a fluke. darnold is the real
deal, but turns the ball over way too much. not sure where they'll end
up. rose bowl is taken this year so that's kind of a bummer. they're forecasting
fiesta bowl vs. tcu, which isn't very exciting because they're not a big
name. i always feel like those are lose-lose situations. the perception
is that usc should beat any team out there other than big name schools
like OSU, TX, ND, AL, etc. even if boise state or TCU or whomever is really
good, it feels like it should be a win. that's the downside of being a
storied program. the upside is that you have a built-in recruiting advantage
had my biggest concrete
pour to date today. didn't go well. i called the concrete company a couple
days ago for a delivery and they couldn't get it out to me until today
at 1:30p. i knew that was going to be pretty late and i wanted to get it
done today. instead of shopping around i stupidly decided to go to the
landscape supply yard and have them mix up some for me and tow it in their
trailer. they do this all the time and i used it once before to do the
slab in the garage at picardy. well, this time the mix i got was super
wet and since the weather has been cool and the slab didn't get any sun,
it stayed wet and the bleed water didn't go anywhere. finally we tried
to finish it at about 430p and it was still soupy as fuck. there was no
way of saving it. i troweled it out and as best i could tell (it was dark
by then) it looks like crap. guess we'll see what the customer says. they're
putting a hot tub over it so maybe they won't be too picky, but i have
a feeling i'm going to be jackhammering it all up and doing it again next
week. these are the joys of owning your own business. as an employee there's
nothing you can do that will lose you money. you can be malicious or completely
incompetent over a long period of time and get fired, but you'll never
lose money, or pay someone to do a job for them (if you really fuck up).
luckily i think i've only
paid someone to work at their house once before. i was fixing a cabinet
that she put together incorrectly and as i was taking the back off to rebuild
it, it collapsed and was instantly destroyed. cost me $200 and i still
had to build it and install it. so i basically paid her about $100 to do
that job for her. if this slab needs to be taken out i'll be out the cost
of labor to demo, the dump fees, more concrete, and the labor to reinstall.
heard a stat from freakonomics
that 25% of people who make 100-150k/year "can't come up with $2,000 in
30 days." i find this to be astonishingly pathetic. in other words, they
can't scrounge up 1 week's earnings in 4 weeks. the researchers purposely
worded it as "come up with" because they wanted to allow for people borrowing,
using credit cards, using social resources, etc. if you make that much
money and you can't come up with 2% of your salary because you have a bad
transmission, then you're making bad decisions.
here's the thing when it
comes to personal finance, and a lot of other life decisions, these days.
i find that there are fewer and fewer legitimate excuses for not taking
control of your life to the extent that a quarter of people who are pretty
damn well off can't come up with $2k. when you're making that much money
it has almost everything to do with your decisions and these days those
decisions are so easy to farm out. the amount of good personal finance
advice out there is ridiculous. there are sites and communities dedicated
to eating cheap and healthy, to establishing emergency funds, to living
frugally, to bettering your credit, etc. all of which would allow you to
manage a problem on the order of 2% of your yearly income. all that said,
i guarantee that there are people who will see that 25% number and feel
sorry for those poor people making six figures who must live in expensive
cities or have such awful lives that they can't even afford to fix their
transmission. at some point, we have to start holding people accountable
for their decisions. right?
college football is looking
at some potential chaos scenarios that are pretty interesting. 538 said
last week that USC had about a 25% chance of getting into the playoff,
but i still consider that to be bogus.
alabama should be out,
but you never know. wisconsin holds their fate in their hands. same with
oklahoma. there's a decent chance that a two loss team could make it in.
ohio state could beat wisconsin and they would have a decent claim to getting
in. i don't think they deserve it, especially after how they showed up
last year against clemson. of course i'd like to see usc in there, but
they don't deserve it even if they win out. anyway, lots of interesting
scenarios to consider.
watching the WA/WA ST game
and found i was actually learning a few things from the color commentator.
turns out it was brady quinn. this is the second time i've noticed he's
done a good job, so i guess he's pretty good, even if he's from ND.
here's an interesting thought
experiment - would you rather vote for bill clinton or mitt romney? assuming
they're the same age. basically everyone i know is liberal so i assume
they'd all instantly say bill clinton. you can say he's more experienced
or he's better on the issues or he's not out of touch like romney. what's
interesting about all this, though, is that the cause du jour is sexual
assault against women and bill clinton has been accused of sexual assault
and rape multiple times. enough times that you have to assume there's something
to the charges. i'm wondering if i know anyone who would be able to hold
their nose and vote for someone like mitt romney over an alleged sexual
assaulter like clinton. i think thinking about it like this allows you
to view the republicans' ability to vote for a despicable person like trump
over someone like hillary. party and political issues win out over personal
the big one that got legs
against clinton was monica and the typical response was always that it
was consensual and no one should have asked him about it (which is why
he ended up perjuring himself). but as louis c.k. recently pointed out
in his apology, it's about power. he had power over the women he entrapped.
he had their respect and admiration and took advantage of that. surely
this is true of clinton times 10.
i think the outrage over
the issue from the democrats today is in contrast to their defense during
the clinton era. this is why this issue with clinton is getting relitigated
again today. at some point the republicans have to stop bringing this up.
they really do seem to be obsessed with the clintons for some reason...they
bring up hillary in their coverage even today. but, i do think it's fair
of them to bring up the obvious and relevant hypocrisy of democrats on
the sexual assault issue. democrats have long been up in arms about this
issue with trump, but they have some splaining to do when it comes to their
like of outrage during the clinton years and the issues that have been
coming out lately with weinstein and many other prominent democratic celebrities.
imagine an alternate universe
wherein ronald reagan encourages his secretary/mistress to get an abortion.
republicans say you shouldn't meddle in his affairs. 20 years later a bunch
of koch brother, ted nugent, chuck norris types are found to have also
encouraged their mistresses/wives/whatever to get abortions. the cries
of hypocrisy would be never-ending (and well-earned),
since i'm talking about
the past and hypocrisy. what about ice cube? he went on bill maher's show
a while back and chastised him for using the n word. gave him a hard time
and said it was our word now and you can't use it. he said he likes maher,
but you can't get too comfortable and use that word. okay, that's fair
imo. but to what extent should we look back at ice cube's lyrics and see
if he applies the same thinking to his music? obviously he uses the n word
all the time, but i'm not talking about that. what about his treatment
of women in his songs? what about his use of the word fag? he's called
easy e a faggot in at least one song i can think of and he's used the word
fag derisively elsewhere as well. what about how he treats asians in a
song like black korea?
i wonder where this stuff
is going to end. everyone seems to be getting caught up in this endless
looking back nowadays. everything you've ever done is likely to be on trial
if you're a public figure. and it's only going to get worse as we move
on because more and more stuff is online now and cameras are everywhere
and critics grown on trees.
i really think identity
politics are tearing us apart more than anytime since i've been alive.
i think the democrats are actually pulling these strings more than the
republicans, but both are playing this game and it's dangerous and unhelpful.
i could go into this a lot more, but i just don't have the energy right
haidt is someone i've been following for a few years now. this guy
really seems to get the political landscape in a way few people do because
they are so wrapped up in their own team's righteousness that they're blind
to the other side.
right thinking people know
why trump is so dangerous. but what i wish more of those people got upset
about was the expansion of executive power during those times when their
team (democrats) are in power. obama uses the executive order to an unprecedented
level and they say it was necessary. democratic congress uses the nuclear
option and they turn a blind eye. this kind of stuff normalizes bad behavior
and makes the executive more powerful. seems acceptable when it's for a
good cause and seems horrible when your worst enemy has that same power.
another thing right thinking
people need to get under control is their sense of outrage and fear mongering.
i remember people talking about bush being the worst president ever (i
actually almost agree with this one). "he's going to institute martial
law." "he's going to suspend elections." "diebold fixed the election for
him." etc. romney came along and he was morally corrupt, the worst of the
1%, he's got binders full of women, who knows what he's hiding in his taxes,
etc. trump comes along and it's the same song and dance. at some point
both sides need to dial back the rhetoric or else normal people aren't
going to believe them anymore. i've wised up. i never really believed the
republicans when they said that shit and now i don't believe the democrats
either. and i think most smart people probably get that this is just the
game they play. "chris, you're taking it too seriously...of course they're
going to smear romney as badly as bush and trump even though he may not
be as bad." but at what point do they pay the price for this? the answer
is never. because those same people won't ever hold their party accountable
for muddying the waters with bullshit. and then they wonder why politics
is such a dirty business. why both sides are so scummy. because it works
and they never pay the price. some people sit out of the game entirely,
but that doesn't bother the parties.
i think all the harvey
weinstein and related outings is great. the paradise papers, too. there's
no such thing as privacy for these people anymore...at least it's getting
to be less and less. the downside is that you can't believe in people like
bono anymore. all these people are tainted. so many of them hide their
money or molest people or whatever. it was good to see ben affleck confirmed
as a piece of shit. i've suspected as much for a while now.
i'm hoping that the child
molesters in hollywood are going to get outed next. corey feldman has been
rumbling about this for a while. elijah wood also commented on this a while
back. i don't doubt that there's more to this waiting to be outed like
the weinstein thing.
something that gets peoples'
blood boiling is talking about the fairness of our tax system. this is
getting debated a lot now with the gop tax plan. it also came up a lot
with romney and trump and their taxes either not being release or finding
out that they don't pay very much in taxes. i think there are some issues
like this with individuals on the margins (hedge fund managers are a classic
example), but, from my research, it looks to me like 1) our tax system
is more progressive than many liberals would have you believe when they
talk about anecdotes like romney and 2) if should be thanking the rich
who pay more than their fair share. so, i'm not talking here about hedge
fund managers who get by on the carried interest loophole or romney/trump
types who make a lot of money on capital gains which used to be taxed at
a lower rate. what i'm going to talk about is the broad group of people
known as the rich...i'll just present some facts and hopefully that will
give a view that isn't really talked about in most of the mainstream media
when it comes to sound bites and platitudes and horse shit about this topic.
people who earn $250k+
a year make up just 2.7% of all the tax filers yet they pay 51.6% of all
the income taxes. that's according to pew.
"In 2014, people with adjusted gross income, or AGI, above $250,000 paid
just over half (51.6%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted
for only 2.7% of all returns filed, according to our analysis of preliminary
IRS data. Their average tax rate (total taxes paid divided by cumulative
AGI) was 25.7%. By contrast, people with incomes of less than $50,000 accounted
for 62.3% of all individual returns filed, but they paid just 5.7% of total
taxes. Their average tax rate was 4.3%."
the lowest quintile pays
an effective tax rate of 3.9%. the top quintile pays an effective rate
of 24.9%. the top 1% pays an effective rate of 31.9%. source.
so, we can look at that
and surmise that the rich do pay a lot of taxes. maybe that's never been
the argument. maybe the argument is that the rich may pay a lot, but they
get a lot more. so, let's look at that....
the top 25% earns about
69% of all income and pay about 87% of all income taxes.
the top 1% earns about
21% of all income and pays about 39% of all income taxes.
the top 1% pays 39.48%
of all the income taxes and the bottom 50% pays 2.5% of all income taxes.
in every case the top earners
are paying a greater share of the taxes than the income share that they
earn. table below.
these are data for income
taxes, but even when you take into account payroll taxes, which are less
progressive than income taxes (some would argue they're regressive since
only the first $118,500 of earning are taxed), the trend is the same -
the rich pay much more than everyone else and pay a greater share of the
total taxes than their earnings.
so, it's clear to me that
the issue isn't in the broad strokes of individual income taxes. it's in
the details and the recesses where the ultra-rich are able to hide and
where corporations are able to crony their way into low tax burdens. off
shoring earnings, getting tax loopholes written for them, etc. but, like
identity politics, this shouldn't be a rich vs. poor or black vs. white
thing. i think most of the rich are paying more than their fair share.
we need to do a better job of going after the weasels who find ways to
avoid paying what they should.
here's how pew puts it
(emphasis mine): "Still, that analysis confirms that, after all federal
taxes are factored in, the U.S. tax system as a whole is progressive. The
top 0.1% of families pay the equivalent of 39.2% and the bottom 20%
have negative tax rates (that is, they get more money back from the
government in the form of refundable tax credits than they pay in taxes)."
there's one other thing
i'll say beyond getting the tax avoiders to pay up, and that is the death
tax needs to stay around. call it an estate tax or death tax or whatever,
and in principle i kinda disagree with it because i think you should be
able to pass on your wealth to your kids, but it's really destructive in
the long run when you have accumulations of wealth and power. the death
tax needs to limit these powerful families from being multi-generational
hoarders of wealth and influence. i think the point at which it kicks in
should be fairly high (it's about $5 million now) and i would probably
raise that lower limit to $10 million or something, but the tax rate should
be pretty high when you talk about billion dollar families passing on their
wealth to their progeny. under $10 million estate being passed on gets
a very low tax rate, like 5% or something. above that and it gets taxed
at 50% or higher.
don't listen to them enough,
but rage against the machine are still awesome in my book.
as busy as ever trying
to juggle so many projects and competing interests. trying to take fewer
jobs and focus on bigger things.
been getting back into
metal lately. judas priest, megadeth and the classics. there's a lot of
stuff i don't really like, but there's a decent amount of really good stuff,
too, if you don't mind being 30 years behind the curve.
i've thought a lot about
the seahawks' loss to the patriots when everyone wanted them to give the
ball to marshawn. i remember them being in that position and saying "just
run the ball four times...actually, a play action would be good right now."
the thought i had was two fold: time was a consideration and a play action
when everyone was expecting a run would be a good way of catching the defense
off guard. well, we all know what happened and pete carroll got plenty
of monday morning quarterbacking on that one. but here's the best analysis
of that play that i've read, and it was from reddit: "On the year, Marshawn
was only '1 of 5' on goal-line (1 yard) attempts. And *only* '1 of 4' on
4th and 1 attempts. Besides Marshawn's poor conversion rates on short yardage
situations (so far that year), the play was 2nd and goal with 22 second
left and 1 timeout. (Barring the interception) with a pass attempt, two
more plays could be run with the full playbook. With a rush attempt on
2nd, not getting in would require burning the final time-out. The
3rd down attempt would *have to be* a pass since no more time-outs would
be available. This limits the play-book and lets the defense *know*
a pass is coming. The pass attempt on 2nd preserved an open playbook for
3rd and 4th down. The Seahawks also went with Lynch on 4th and 1 in overtime
on the season opener in their next game, and [this
so, if you want to remember
that play as a pete carroll blunder, then go for it, but i think there's
strong evidence that it was actually a very good playcall given the situation.
unfortunately the DB made a great jump on the ball and neither the receiver
nor wilson made a better play in that particular instance.
maybe i'm just getting
old, but there seems to be a distinction missing these days when it comes
to earning something vs. deserving something. it sure seems as though a
sizable portion of people these days think that a lot of things are owed
to them by birthright. people have broadened the definition of "deserve"
and "right" so much that it's become almost useless. there's little distinction
now between wants and needs. i think it goes along with a lot of society
lately moving in a generally post modern direction. basically it seems
like a lot of language and traditional boundaries are being pushed so much
and so rapidly, that their meanings are diluted to the point of almost
is sexual assault worse
than regular assault? i think the general impulse is to say yes, but it
might not always be the case. if you think of ray rice punching his girlfriend
in the face then that may be considered worse than a woman grabbing a dude's
ass in a bar. but, aside from some instances on the ends of the spectrum,
sexual assault seems to be a lot worse than everyday assault. so, if someone
punches a guy then that sucks, but it's not considered a life changing
event. if that same guy grabs a woman's breast then that's considered very
traumatic. there are a lot of articles, for example, about PTSD after sexual
assault. and if you google PTSD and assault you'll see stuff almost entirely
having to do with sexual assault, not trauma resulting from a mugging gone
wrong or a bar fight or something. i think at least part of this is because
women tend to be the greatest victims of sexual assault (as far as we know)
and society wants to shelter and protect women far more than men. it's
a weird dynamic because if you're trying to be completely progressive about
the topic you would think that women shouldn't be sheltered because they
can take care of themselves and aren't "the fairer sex." yet, it's because
of that attitude that we place such a taboo on sexual assault and consider
rape against women among the worst things a person can do (child rape and
murder being the only other two that could compare).
is google too big to fail?
there are a lot of people who rely on them as much as they rely on their
bank or power company or whatever.
there was a poll that 538
talked about which asked people which is a bigger threat in the u.s.: nazis
or the media. i don't remember what the numbers were, but maybe 20% came
back and said the media and people were kinda aghast by this. to me, this
is actually the right answer. i rate nazis in america as a very low level
threat to our way of life. nazis are worse than the media, but that's not
the question. the question is about which entity can do, or is doing, more
harm in the u.s. right now. there's no question in my mind that the media
is a huge part of the problem we have right now. from the way they report
on science to politics. the sound bites, the 24 hour news media, the empty
coverage, the sensationalism...there are a million ways in which the media
is fucking our culture and society on a daily basis. so, yeah, they're
doing way more damage than a few thousand idiot nazis.
went to the WSU game the
other week with my dad. we've now seen USC play at all the pac-12 stadiums
except OSU and UCLA. we'll hit both of those next year. the game was good
in absolute terms, but we were on the wrong end once again. i really believed
sam darnold would pull it off. he relishes those moments so much, but this
year his offensive line has been shit and i think he's taking too much
on his shoulders. he has the tools to be great, but he's not making great
decisions right now. the stadium itself wasn't anything special. the town
is out in the middle of nowhere and we didn't drive around much because
it was a 14 hour drive. but the scenery in the surrounding area was really
nice. it was also a good crowd and i experienced both the loudest moment
in a live game and the quietest. when we were down and driving down the
field to try to tie it up (i think) we had a 4th and 7 conversion where
we made a really good catch, but the ball was in the air and it wasn't
clear if the receiver was going to come down with it or not. the crowd
was completely silent for about a second. it was kinda surreal. conversely,
when darnold fumbled the ball to effectively end the game, the crowd was
as loud as i've ever heard. they went absolutely nuts.
so, here's our USC road
trip tally...it hasn't been pretty:
WSU - L (we were ranked
WA - W (WA was ranked #4?)
UTAH - L (close game, nicest
ORE - L (dick fans)
CO - W (coldest game)
ASU - L (90+ degrees at
10p, kiffen gets fired)
AZ - L
CAL - W (most harassment
faced on the pac-12 tour - "take off that red shirt")
STAN - L (great game against
andrew luck. worst parking experience)
those who care about politics and political discourse. listen to it.
i wrote the other day about
getting older and realizing that a lot of the way society works is actually
the way it is for a good reason. part of being a pretty liberal person
is that you question everything and are more willing to change things about
society. that's one of the older definitions of being liberal or left wing
- basically that you're willing to break away from tradition. the problem
with taking this too far is that you can dismantle institutions like marriage
which have some negatives, or are associated with negative things (like
historic oppression of women), simply because there are a few negatives.
especially when you're young you're likely to embrace left wing thought
because the older generation seems oppressive with their idea of how you
should live your life, their crusty old rules, etc. this is what the Graduate
is mostly about, imo. ben and elaine break away from the traditions of
the church and their parents and go their own way. of course the reality
of this hits them
at the end and so they have that somber look. breaking away from tradition
and going your own way is extremely important and this is one reason why
i love that film so much. we shouldn't go without questioning tradition
(shirley jackson's The
Lottery is my favorite example of this).
however, and this seems
lost to those on the far left, we shouldn't throw the baby out with the
bath water. traditional gender roles are harmful to both men and women.
traditional marriage where the woman is basically a piece of property is
wrong in all sorts of ways. this doesn't mean that marriage (or something
approximating it) itself is inherently bad. and now to why i brought this
up... it occurs to me that a lot of people today are putting the cart before
the horse when it comes to sex. i've heard and read of plenty of situations
where the woman (usually) has trouble asking for the guy to use a condom
or where the guy doesn't want to ask the girl if she's comfortable because
he doesn't want to miss out on his chance to get some. but there are a
million issues with sex that aren't brought up between people because they
don't love and trust each other before engaging in sex. because of sexual
liberation and this flawed thinking that you're breaking the bonds of traditional
society by flouting its mores, we get situations where people are having
sex without having trust beforehand. traditionally there is supposed to
be at least some level of commitment and trust before having sex. this
sets things up for much greater success all around. people are less likely
to be embarrassed, pushed into an uncomfortable situation, etc. of course
the most important aspect is that there's going to theoretically be a good
home for the baby should that happen. all this is to say that we need tradition
(conservatives) and we need change (liberals) in order to have a well functioning
a big part of all this
is the journey of figuring out what traditions are there for good reason
and which ones are artifacts of stayed power structures...and which parts
of traditions are necessary, and which parts can change. if we keep marriage,
or some sort of long-term commitment as i'm suggesting, does that mean
that we keep every element of it? dowry? man/woman only? two people only?
the traditional gender roles that are associated with it? and all this
upheaval can be difficult for traditionalists because they think everything
around them is changing and they fear what's next. it's why change must
necessarily happen slowly. this is the genius of the founders' system and
it's the trouble with the expansion of executive power which undermines
things happening slowly and deliberately.
anyway, back to the graduate
for a moment. i've had more than a few people comment on the final seconds
of the graduate when ben and
elaine's expression changes from happy to somber, pregnant even. i've
had people say things like "yeah, but they weren't even happy in the end,
their faces changed." and my reaction is "yeah, that's the best part."
otherwise it's just folly. they've broken away from their parents...that's
hard, but the truly hard part is yet to come. this is sort of the existential
crisis of the post-modernist. there are no rules, we've broken them all.
god is dead, so now i have to make my own rules. "wait, i have to make
up my own rules about everything?" and, "if i'm a thoughtful and good person,
then this is a great weight. it's not the unbridled freedom that the young
me thought it was...it's heavy shit to have to figure out where i draw
the line on everything now."
look again at the scene
where they look back at the church and see that they've escaped their parents.
turn back towards the front of the bus and all the old passengers are looking
back at them, backwards. the past is in the background of the
shot, the bus is moving forward, ben and elaine are looking forward,
and the old people are looking backwards. this is perfect. then
the sound of silence starts. the sound of silence...it's the abyss staring
back at them. they've decided to live their lives on their terms and now
that reality is hitting them. one of the best scenes in film history and
the best film ever made.
good, the bad, and the ugly duel is also up there. just pure cinema.
so, last night we had another
mass shooting. this one was pretty extreme. 500+ people injured, 50+ killed.
there's a cost of freedom. i think we have to start there. the question
after that just becomes what freedoms are we willing to live without to
have safety? what level of safety is reasonable? we've seen trucks hijacked
and run into crowds in europe (87 died in Nice, 434 injured). we've seen
guns used to kill dozens here. 69 people were killed in a single attack
in norway, where they have fairly strict gun laws. the point being that
dedicated, insane people will always be able to kill large numbers of people.
we have to decide to what extent we are willing to give up freedoms in
order to minimize these, knowing full well that we'll never eliminate them
altogether. we have to have that reasonable conversation. reasonable people
have to say i can wait another two weeks to get my gun if it means guns
will be harder to get for psychos. people pushing gun bans have to come
to the reasonable position that guns aren't inherently bad, they're not
only for killing people, and that banning them altogether is actually a
pretty silly response for a lot of reasons.
this narrative that
these mass killing events are exclusive to the u.s. is no longer true.
i don't know if we have more of them per capita than western europe (i
would guess we do), but it doesn't seem that far apart recently. i think
this is just the new normal and an unfortunate byproduct of modern society
and freedom. i don't know what we can reasonably do to get where we all
want to get (close to zero deaths). maybe japan has some insight.
ethan, my new hire, has
been doing a really good job since hiring him. it's really cool to see
a younger guy who is excited about the trades and starting a career for
himself. i told his mom (donna, who i used to work for at the alumni house)
a few years ago that he should enter trade school. she pushed him into
college (uc davis) and it took him a while to get his degree. i suppose
it was worth it in the long run, but i just don't see that as worthwhile
for guys like ethan. he has a lot of energy and jumping through academic
hoops to get a piece of paper which is going to help very little, if at
all, when it comes to the trades just doesn't make sense. it's too early
to say definitively, but i see in him a great work ethic, a desire to learn,
and an aptitude for the trades. with those tools he'll have a career that
will be fulfilling and rewarding. hopefully i can give him some of the
guidance i wish i had had over the years of basically figuring it out myself.
his first year in the trades is going to be about equivalent to my first
another recent issue that
came up thanks to trump is trans people in the military. i think we should
basically have a standard for getting into the military and apply it evenly.
if it happens to disproportionately affect women or trans people, then
that's tough luck. same goes for being a fire fighter or any other very
physical job. so, in the case of the military there are a variety of medical
conditions that don't make sense for front lines work...diabetes is a common
example of a physical condition that requires constant medical care and
as a result is a disqualifying condition for serving on the front lines.
if you're a trans person who is on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) then
i think the same standard should apply. so, that's somewhat simplistic,
but also much more nuanced than the discussion i see taking place. the
discussion taking place appears to be like this...a liberal person says
trans people should be allowed to serve no matter what, otherwise it's
discrimination. a conservative person says it's not good for unit cohesion
or it costs a lot to pay for their healthcare. both sides really miss the
salient points. for front lines service there is an established
standard and it should be followed. some trans people on HRT, for example,
won't be able to serve because they are trans. sorry. i see no reason why
they can't serve elsewhere as support staff. the cost of their healthcare
shouldn't be a consideration, but the logistics of their healthcare in
a front lines situation should be a consideration. this seems very reasonable,
but is probably an unpopular opinion. sorry about that. trump just stirred
the shit with ignorant comments; what else is new?
i was thinking about my
comment that pundits, politicians, and scholars should have to rank, or
assign a percentage to, the variables they think contribute to a certain
thing. i good litmus test would be: what are the top 5 reasons the median
poor person is poor. i think the things a person comes up with and the
percentage they assign to this would be very telling. a conservative might
say things like: bad personal decisions (poor work ethic, immoral behavior),
bad parenting, poor cultural priorities, lack of spirituality, etc. a liberal
might say things like: institutional impediments, racism, sexism, corporate
capitalism, poor educational opportunities, etc. i think both sides make
some fair points. i'd have to spend a lot of time thinking about coming
up with the top 5 and assigning a number to each, but i'd say that the
single biggest of those things i mentioned is personal decisions. maybe
it's only 35% of the pie, but it's probably the biggest single thing in
why do white men commit
70% of all suicides? i guess one answer could be that if you're a black
woman and things are fucked up in your life you may be used to it because
your life has been (on average) harder than that of a white guy. it also
could be that black women can blame their circumstances on others; whereas
a white guy is (supposedly) told that he can be whatever he wants. when
his life sucks maybe he thinks it's all because he's a failure and he can't
shift responsibility for his shitty life to racism or sexism. it could
also be that life as a white guy is very isolating relative to others.
women tend to be more social and it's more accepted to talk about weakness.
blacks also tend to be more social and having a network of friends is a
good preventer of suicide.
economic policies politicians won't touch. one issue with lists like
this is that you can't really pick and choose. you kinda have to go with
all (or most) of them in order for everything to balance out. if you cut
a bunch of taxes on corporations or income, but don't tax carbon or eliminate
the mortgage tax deduction, then our deficits are even more fucked. i think
i'd pretty much be for these 6 changes if it came to a vote. maybe i'd
miss the mortgage deduction. i don't think legalizing marijuana is as important
as the other 5. but overall i'd say let's do it. payroll taxes are a stupid
impediment to hiring. i have first hand experience with this. i'd rather
pay ethan more, and he'd rather earn more, than to pass it onto the govt.
plus it's one more thing to worry about when hiring, in addition to insurance
requirements, etc. if you want more jobs then make it easier to hire people,
not harder (fewer payroll taxes, requiring healthcare be tied to employment,
etc.). make it easier to get a job (fewer licensing requirements).
okay, i think i've waded
into enough touchy topics to earn the ire of my readers for a day. time
big story of the week seems
to be the NFL protest. everything these days is very strange to me. i'm
sure this is partly because we live in bizarre times with trump and rampant
post-modernism/social upheaval, and partly because i'm just getting old.
one reason it's weird is because there always seems to be a lot of discussion
about the act itself, instead of the underlying cause or issue. so, it
devolves into a first amendment debate or whatever, more on that later.
it's also odd because people still haven't figured out that most of what
trump says is irrelevant. i figured this out fairly quickly, thankfully.
i constantly hear from people "did you hear what trump tweeted/said/wrote?"
frankly i don't much care at this point. he's a stupid troll. ignore him.
on the other hand he's the president, so anything he says is inherently
important. i acknowledge this point of view and think it doesn't apply
to the current person occupying the office.
there's a lot of speculation
about what he says and why he says it and all that. is he saying it to
purposely distract us? is he playing us? is he playing to his base and
willing to change on actual policy? there's evidence for all of these positions
because he's all over the place. using what he says to make an argument
about who he is is foolish. read that again because i think it applies
to everyone, but it's most obvious with trump. Your actions speak so loudly,
I can not hear what you are saying. we've heard this "actions speak louder
than words" quote a million times, and yet we seem to completely ignore
its wisdom when it comes to trump. again: he's a troll - ignore what he
says. if you want to know who he is then look at what he does. don't ascribe
motivation where you cannot (pretty much everywhere). don't react to words.
look at actions (solely, or at least primarily) and you'll probably have
a more honest view of who he is (and feel saner in the process).
i'm no law school student,
but my understanding of the first amendment is that is stops at the office
door. so, you can't work for the NFL and wear a "fuck trump" t-shirt or
whatever. does this extend to needing to stand during the national anthem?
eh, maybe or maybe not. i don't know, but making a first amendment argument
is generally the last refuge of a lost argument. emily bazelon brought
it up with regards to the new hillary book. i guess there are some who
are saying she shouldn't have written the book and bazelon said she has
every right to write the book. these are two different things. anyone who
says she doesn't have the right is a moron. that's a different argument
from saying she shouldn't have written it. that argument is normative and
saying she doesn't have the right would be a positive argument. both are
dumb, by the way. she both has the right to write the book and probably
should write the book as well. so, bazelon was on the right side, but was
using the wrong argument.
same goes for the first
amendment NFL stuff....the players may or may not have the right to protest
while at work; i'm not a legal scholar, but i know it's probably more complicated
than many realize. that said, they should protest police brutality because
it's an abuse of government power and an attack on individual liberty.
this is the core of the argument, and this is what was basically a footnote
in the coverage i saw about this weekend. the headline was trump saying
dumb shit on twitter. the sub-headline was talking about what occurred
(locking arms, not going onto the field, most teammates participating,
etc.). the "why" of it all was the footnote. sad!
hbo is going to have a
show about what would have happened if the confederacy had won the third
civil war. it's a counterfactual in the vein of Man in the High Castle.
apparently, though, it got lambasted because it's going to apparently fan
the flames of racial disharmony and could provide a wish fulfillment to
white supremacists. this kind of reaction to a show that hasn't even begun
production is pretty pathetic. to start a twitter campaign with a #noconfederate
hashtag just reeks of people with too much time on their hands and a over-developed
sense of moral superiority. how can anyone comment on a show that hasn't
been made at all? just bizarre.
why do we adjudicate some
crimes on college campuses? why should rape or theft or anything else not
directly related to education, be confined to the campus police and campus
"legal" process? it seems that the campus is only capable of meting out
justice after society has done it first. doesn't make a lot of sense. seems
like we should eliminate this and reform the criminal justice system in
the process. maybe once privileged whites start entering the criminal justice
system over small crimes that might currently be kept "in-house," the system
will see some reform on these minor infractions that can derail lives for
little good reason. for example, a kid vandalizes a campus building and
goes on academic probation as a result. a kid vandalizes a local business
and gets a misdemeanor on his record instead. same crime, way different
result just because he can afford college. same could go for sexual assault
or drug possession or whatever shit gets swept under the rug while in college.
how about recontextualizing
confederate monuments instead of white washing history? tell a difficult
story about our history instead of just tearing it down.
i have a problem with how
we prioritize our attention and money in the guise of saving lives, etc..
if we really care about lives perhaps we should spend more money on heart
disease and less on terrorism. if we care about black disenfranchisement
perhaps we should make DC representation a real priority instead of worrying
i think science and society
should work the same way in the following way...in science you set up an
experiment and try to think about all the possible factors that could influence
your results, you gather all the data as best you can and then you look
at it and you're supposed to basically accept the results. if you see some
weird data then maybe you run the experiment again, have a peer rerun it
in different cirumstances, etc. but you don't take the results and try
to play games with it in order to support your thesis. science is supposed
to be: data leads to thesis. it's not supposed to be: develop thesis, design
study to get data that confirms thesis. scientists who do this are usually
industry shills. i think you get the point.
society should be similar
in this way. we should figure out what our priorities are, what the laws
should be, etc. and then live with the outcomes of those priorities. if
we get outcomes that we don't like should we then go back and change laws?
i think most people would say yes, i'm not so sure. let's decide on our
principles and then make laws according to them. if it doesn't work out
for everyone, then that's the result of the principles we agreed upon.
not everyone is going to be a winner. i think that's the crux of it. these
days it seems like we're supposed to want everyone to be a winner. i think
it's okay to have a society where not everyone is a winner. i'm morally
okay with that. i think our principles should be hard work, ethical and
equal treatment of others, etc. if you don't work or make bad decisions
then life isn't going to be so good for you. it shouldn't be worse for
you just because you're black or poor vs. rich or white, but not working
and making bad decisions leads to poverty and i'm pretty much okay with
that (obvious exceptions like disability, certain ages, etc. aside). in
other words, i guess i'm not pro social engineering.
of course all that is a
purist pipe dream because it sorta assumes a reset situation where everyone
starts off in the same place.
i think it's great that
berkeley finally decided to allow ben shapiro and others on their campus.
the new president seems to understand the concept of free speech. then
you hear that the bill for doing this is $600k and you have to wonder how
they possibly got to such a number. paying all the cops on UCPD and BPD
staff for a day's work couldn't possibly cost that much. it honestly sounds
like bullshit. further, why is ben shapiro such a controversial person?
i haven't looked into him much, but i've seen some of his talks and he's
just a smart conservative guy. you may not agree with his views on the
role of government, but he's pretty consistent and far from an alt-right
bigot. he doesn't support trump, left breitbart because they got too ideological
for him and he's jewish so i sorta doubt he's a nazi. strange times we're
anyone else noticing the
ads for low down payment loans on houses? anyone else think this was part
of the problem the first time around? nah, obama and the inept congress
fixed all that stuff.
emily bazelon was recently
bemoaning the fact that hillary clinton was weighed down by her husband's
legacy. this is the same thing that happened to al gore. and frankly, tough
luck. both benefited from his legacy and both were hurt by it. i don't
see it as an issue. if HRC wasn't his wife then she wouldn't have been
elected to the senate or sniffed the white house. it's weird how i've heard
a couple things along these lines that bill clinton's legacy with the crime
bill or lewinsky or even recently on the tarmac with loretta lynch all
contributed to hillary losing the election in some way or another....i'm
no great fan of clinton or his mixed legacy, but jesus christ you have
to do a lot of yoga to bend over so far backwards that you blame bill for
HRC losing, and you have to really be blind to not see that without bill's
win in 92, there's no HRC campaign in 2016.
a big part of the problem
with all these things is that it's so squishy. a commentator can say that
bill clinton's legacy hurt hillary. a commentator can say that nader lost
the election for gore. a commentator can say that the legacy of slavery
is the reason blacks earn less than whites today. these sound like clear
claims, but they don't have much backbone to them. i want the commentator
to do this instead: there are 10 primary reasons HRC lost to trump and
here they are (making them up now, but just for the sake of argument):
ineffective campaigning in battleground midwestern states 20%, she couldn't
convince white women to vote for her 10%, trump masterfully used the media
to his advantage 10%, etc. same should go for a lot of these discussions.
i've read enough by ta-nehisi
coates to know that his view on why blacks earn less than whites is basically:
white supremacy 98%, everything else 2%. and while i've never read anything
david duke has written, his story is probably: inferior genes 99%, everything
else 1%. what i'd really like to see in these discussions is hard numbers
applied to the theories and ideas put forth by the people talking about
a given topic. no more hiding behind empty generalities. i want people
to take a real stance on this stuff so we know where they stand. give me
your top 5 reasons gore lost, in order. give me percentage breakdown on
the reasons healthcare costs so much. if you're expert enough to be a pundit,
then surely this isn't so difficult.
it's weird when i think
about how we're supposedly taught to think about the country. among "right
thinking people," the narrative is that we're taught in school that america
is great and hasn't done anything wrong. maybe that's the education some
people received. maybe those are the movies some people watched, but i
don't think that applies to my experience. i definitely internalized the
idea that america is a source of great good AND great evil in human history.
i don't believe the narrative that schools and society have white-washed
history so we think that america can do no wrong. while it's true that
i didn't learn the details of every historical slight, every oppression,
every atrocity, every amoral act the government perpetrated on women, blacks,
native americans, etc. there's no doubt that it would have been impossible
to be ignorant of the general theme that our government and people have
caused a lot of suffering at home and abroad.
i suppose one example of
this is when i first learned of how many lynchings happened in the south
in the 1950-60s. being surrounded by movies like mississippi burning and
stories of emmett till and four little girls and plenty others, i would
have guessed that thousands of blacks were lynched in the american south
in those two decades. when i first learned that the actual number is less
than 10 in those 20 years, i thought it was an outright lie. so, in this
way i came out of my primary school education with a view of america in
those decades as pretty much a constant source of lynching, but it was
actually extremely rare. in the 1880s more lynchings happened to whites
than blacks. by the 1930s, lynchings of blacks was in the single digits.
so, while my perception that america was awful for blacks in the 50s and
60s is accurate, the manifestation of that awfulness (lynchings) was almost
entirely divorced from reality (in that there were hardly any).
another example would be
in my learning about the slave trade. we spent plenty of time on this in
class and talking about the slave trade triangle. i remember them mentioning
a bit about the slave trade extending to the caribbean and south america,
but the perception i had was always that america was, by far, the worst
offender in the slave trade system. but, as henry
louis gates points out, this isn't even close to true. we
brought fewer slaves here than france, netherlands, spain, UK, and portugal.
also, 75% of americans in 1860 didn't own any slaves. on the one hand i
understand focusing on the US role in the slave trade...after all, it's
US history...on the other hand it made me always think that the US was
worse than it actually was.
in this vein, i think there's
been a bit of revisionist history on native americans lately. the traditional
teachings were that native americans were a proud and peaceful monolith
of people who were slaughtered by the evil white invaders. in the last
15 years or so i've seen more nuanced teachings in popular culture. native
americans were different tribes and some of them were quite pugnacious.
some native americans owned slaves (gates also mentions this in the link
above). in other words, our recent ignorance on native americans cast them
in an entirely good light...perhaps as a reaction to the former ignorance
(think Westerns) of them, which cast them almost entirely in a negative
light. turns out people are people. weird.
the USC/UT game wasn't
a disappointment. i was very close to going to the game, but family and
work obligations kept me from making the drive. i regret this decision
quite a bit now. great game, 2OT. lots of missed opportunities by USC and
a lot of heartache, but they got the job done. i thought we were done for
when UT was driving the ball down the field on their last regulation possession.
we refused to put double coverage on johnson for some reason. but when
i saw that we had 39 seconds on the clock and were at the 35 yard line
i was surprisingly confident. normally i'm in deep despair in this situation
because the odds are pretty bad....but we have sam darnold. he's the best
clutch qb USC has had in my memory. i honestly think the kid is better
than leinert. i just remembered the rose bowl and thought to myself "this
is exactly where sam darnold wants to be; this is where he's at his best."
he drove down the field and got within chip shot range and the kicker nailed
it. great game to watch. the execution wasn't all there and i really regret
missing it in person, but very fun to watch.
trump is going after daca
now. the way he's doing it, however, is probably surprising for those who
think he's literally hitler. instead of just canceling the deferment program,
he's giving daca people 6 months to renew and he's telling congress to
solve the problem with an actual law. this is much more in line with what
one would expect from a conservative president. and, frankly, this is the
way more of our lawmaking and regulatory structure should work. we may
have forgotten since it's been so long since it's gone the way it's intended,
but the way the system is intended to work is congress writes laws and
the executive is in charge of executing those laws. it's part of the constitution
for the president to faithfully execute the laws of the u.s. when a president
says they're going to selectively execute the laws or when congress refuses
to write laws to address issues of the day, then the system starts falling
apart. there's been a consistent power grab from the executive branch since
FDR to take on more and more of these duties and i think it's coming to
its logical conclusion now...an inept congress that can't or won't address
major issues like immigration. given this power vacuum, the president steps
in and does what he can, even if he thinks it's unconstitutional (as obama
said). i should expand on this because i don't think the mainstream clickbait
media is covering this very well and the average voter probably doesn't
in 2011, obama explicitly
said that the president can't just write an executive order to stop deportations
or change immigration law. in 2008 he said "we're not going to use signing
statements as an end run around congress." but with DACA he flipped on
both of those. DACA says he's telling the executive not to execute existing
immigration law in an even way...he's prioritizing who we should go after.
not only that, but he created a framework for young illegal immigrants
to be legitimized in society. further, he expanded it to not only DREAMERS,
but also their close family members (DAPA). this is constitutionally questionable
in my opinion. the 5th
circuit ruled on this and also said he went too far with DAPA and essentially
said that it's more than just an executive action. i think it's basically
the right sentiment, but executed in a way that very well might not be
constitutional. of course obama supporters would say he had no choice because
republicans suck. i would argue, that's the way the system works. just
because you have the presidency doesn't mean you get to suspend the way
the system is designed so you can get your agenda through while your party
occupies the white house. if you do this then it's just a race to the bottom.
whichever party is willing to push the boundaries of executive power the
most gets its agenda through. so, it's more than a bit galling when obama
lovers gripe about authoritarian trump taking over and doing unconstitutional
things when they were pretty much silent on obama doing the same stuff,
to a lesser degree.
you would think that after
W, democrats would be a bit wary of too much executive power and military
overreach and all the rest, but they didn't seem to learn their lesson.
i think part of this was the notion that there was a demographic shift
in the country so they thought it was literally impossible to lose the
presidency. oops. meanwhile, there's the party of small government (republicans)
that has factions in it that are very prone to authoritarianism, strong
military presence, etc. they should be the check when it comes to presidential
power, but are every bit as power hungry as the democrats. one reason i
think W was so bad is that he was the worst of both worlds. big government,
big spender, bad on environment, bad on foreign entanglements, etc. he
basically was picking the worst policies of each party. seems like a nice
saw a bit of the zurich
track and field meet a couple weeks back. mo farah is just phenomenal.
he bided his time the entire race and then took over. with about 200m left
he had 4 strong challengers, but i told the people i was eating with that
no one outkicks farah. well,
let's just say it was close. honestly, i got a bit worried at the end
and was surprised to see that they kept up with him, but farah refuses
to lose in the stretch. he's basically unbeatable in this scenario. he's
truly one of the best ever...up there with haile gebrselassie.
SF and KS are interesting
test cases. in kansas brownback basically ran an experiment where he cut
taxes and services and all the usual conservative wet dream stuff and it
apparently didn't go so well, though getting hard data on this and comparing
it to other states in the region for an apples to apples comparison, is
beyond what i'm willing to do. but, all the usual suspects say it was a
failure of conservative economic policy and i'm basically willing to accept
that. SF, meanwhile, is run by liberal people top to bottom and they have
an absolutely abhorrent problem with drug abuse and homelessness. they
have all the tax revenues they could hope for, but the homelessness has
been a visible blight for as long as i've gone there. either they have
liberal policies that have completely failed or the liberal people who
run the place are so deeply hypocritical that they refuse to address the
homeless problem. two small case studies that aren't really case studies,
but i think they show the weakness of extreme left/right politics. in both
cases i think reasonable people would have to conclude that whatever it
is the people there are doing, it's not making those problems any better.
need a left wing and right wing to fly.
DADA. data, analysis, decision,
action. i see a lot of people who have intractable problems in their lives
which are only intractable because they don't follow DADA. collect data
on what the problem is. analyze the data. make a decision about what course
of action to take. take said course of action.
was listening to michael
krasny on KQED the other day and he brought up TS Eliot for some literary
reason. but he didn't just mention eliot, instead he felt it necessary
to remind us all that apparently eliot was a horrible anti-semite. i found
this interesting in light of the monuments debate we're having lately.
eventually, people like krasny are going to bring up the writings of jefferson
or washington and feel compelled to remind us that they both were slave
owners. "speaking of great american buildings...monticello is great example
of neoclassical architecture, even though it was built by the rapist and
slave owner thomas jefferson, who i would spit on if i could."
have i talked about
this yet? basically, i think we're getting thinner and thinner skin
these days. couple that with a move in popular "right thinking" culture
to thinking that government is the answer to all our problems, and you
have a pretty bad mix. you don't have an inalienable right to not have
your feelings hurt. government shouldn't be around to protect your feelings.
neither should your school. i pretty much reject the idea of a safe space
if that means you want a space where your feelings aren't going to be hurt
by ideas you may not agree with. if, by safe space, you mean that there
should be a space to safely explore all sorts of ideas, then i'm all for
that. some people who seem to be doing this sort of exploration correctly
are josh zepps, sam harris and glenn loury...they all have podcasts that
do a pretty good job of exploring some interesting ideas in a mostly respectful
the primary reason i buy
so much on amazon, as opposed to everywhere else, is because it's easy.
one click shopping. i can easily choose multiple shipping addresses, multiple
cards (business, personal, shared account, etc.). i went to usps.com to
buy some stamps and they wanted me to setup an account, a rectal examination,
they want the name of my first love, the city i was born in...they want
me to choose yet another fucking password to manage, etc. it's just too
much fucking crap. i have too much stuff going on in my life as it is.
too many customers asking me to do shit, too many passwords and shit to
manage....just buy everything from amazon and my life is easier. maybe
i pay a couple bucks more for the same coil of 100 stamps, but that's the
profit that amazon gets for making my life easier. meanwhile, everyone
else wants to make my life more difficult. my bank holds deposited funds
for weeks. my sole employee calls in sick. my customers change shit on
me left and right. ups doesn't pick up returns when they're supposed to.
my tax preparer can't deliver my stubs in a consistent manner. my dumpster
rental place doesn't work in richmond because they say richmond has an
agreement with one rental company and won't allow anyone else to do business
in town (she straight up called them the mob). basically, i can't rely
on much these days, but at least amazon generally makes my life easier.
been very hot here lately.
it was 92 in the house the other day. trying to sleep when it's that hot
kinda sucks. the girls have fans, but we don't. it's also warmer upstairs
so it's probably about even. they were great about it.
i need to listen to
theft auto encourages violence against white douche bags.
i wonder what percentage
of the antifa crowd and the white supremacist crowd are just young, dumb
trolls looking for excitement. here's
one of them.
we live in pretty absurd
times. there are a lot of prank videos out there where people just jump
over the counter at dunkin' donuts or whatever, steal a bunch of donuts,
and then run away. basically just videos of people running into a place,
stealing shit and then leaving. meryl's stepdad was actually at a market
the other day when this happened. security guard basically just looked
at them and let them do their thing. if this isn't the break down of the
rule of law then i'm not sure what is. another one happened on BART a couple
weeks ago where a few teens came on the train and robbed a woman (not
the first time). if these folks get caught it's probably only because
they take video of it and post it themselves. we can't, and shouldn't,
have cops everywhere. however, the general attitude is one where people
basically just let this shit happen. this is company policy at any corporate
job i've ever heard of. when i was working at tower records the policy
was to take down the description of the person stealing stuff and report
it to loss prevention or your supervisor. DON"T go after them is the overwhelming
policy. and i understand why - you run after them and trip and hurt yourself
or hurt them during a fight or something, and the company gets sued by
your surviving family members, by the thief, etc. so, it's never worth
losing a few CDs or donuts to risk a confrontation. i understand all that.
that being said, this shit has to end at some point. the way the current
policies and laws are being enforced creates a situation where people are
very unlikely to ever be punished for their actions. the one time we had
a thief make a run for it while i was working i chased after him. after
a couple blocks of me right on his heels he ditched the CD player he stole
and got away. didn't tell anyone so i didn't get fired. at some point we
need to do something better than just standing around letting assholes
chomsky got it right about
antifa. basically they create an opposite that balances out the white supremacists.
it may be a false equivalency, but i suppose it depends how you evaluate
that. part of what i was trying to get at in the post below is the fake
"left/right" dichotomy. supposedly nazis are far right actors; they're
now part of the "alt-right." and, supposedly, antifa is part of the far
left. in reality, they're all just extremists. it doesn't matter that they
may be on the same "side" of the spectrum as you - they probably don't
align with your views very much. this is important for your own selfish
reasons (if you're on the left you probably don't want to be aligned with
the antifa hoodlums), but it also might humanize the people who you think
of as opposed to you. so, if you're a clinton voter, a "right thinking
person" who agrees with the intellectual establishment and all that they
you might be inclined to lump all trump supporters together since they're
all on the right. and nazis are on the right also, so, by proxy, trump
supporters are even more racist than you already thought. the flip works
as well. i've talked with a lot of hardcore conservatives and they basically
think all liberals are the same.
basically we should think
of it like the picture below. political compass is a bit better than the
left/right straight line spectrum. 80% of the people you'll meet are inside
the circle, with antifa, nazis, white supremacists, new black panther party,
etc. all outside of that circle. if you visualize it this way then it's
a lot easier to just call them all extremists instead of being tempted
to say the one on "your side" isn't as bad or feeling like you have to
defend them in any way. unfortunately this isn't quite as nice for the
media. instead of left vs. right, it's extremists vs. normal people. left
vs. right fits more nicely into the democrats vs. the republicans. it works
out better as a narrative. it allows each side to call the other side hypocritical
when the extremists
act up. the other thing i like about my circle way of thinking about is
that you have all the normal people inside as if we're all in it together,
and then you have everyone else. just because they agree with me on libertarian
economic policies doesn't mean they're like me. they're out of the circle
so they're not one of us. i'm not into the us vs. them thing, but it might
be a better option than what we have now where it's basically 40% on the
left vs. 40% on the right. in our current situation you have about 80%
of the country involved in this us vs. them war. the 40% on the right think
the 40% on the left are nuts and vise versa. in the circle model it's 80%
vs. 20%, instead of 40% vs. 40% with 20% undecided. anyway, it's a thought.
when rick rubin dies it'll
be a sad day.
well, another nail in the
coffin of race relations and being able to get along with each other in
this country and trust in the media, was pounded in this weekend. charlottesville
is the latest in the list of unfortunate events that we've had to deal
with. there's a lot to unpack here. i'm watching
trump's remarks on it now so i'll just address things in the order
that they come up. here's a bit of a primer
on what happened.
he makes a slippery slope
argument about taking down monuments of robert e. lee or southern heroes
and how that may one day turn into george washington, etc. at first blush
this seems a bit too much. i don't think i've heard cries to get rid of
statues of the founding fathers. that said, i can guarantee that there
are some out there who hold that opinion. the founding fathers owned slaves,
thought blacks were only 3/5 human, didn't think women should be allowed
to vote, thought you should own property to vote, etc. a lot of liberals
pretty much roll their eyes at mention of the constitution since it's such
and old and outdated document. couple those two opinions and i don't think
you're far from some pushing to stop placing the founders on such a pedestal.
at about 7:25 someone (a
reporter?) asks "why do nazis like you?" this doesn't pass as great journalism,
if you ask me. it's an intriguing question in a way, but i don't think
that it helps anything and it's obviously loaded. why does ISIS like obama
more than trump? why is the new black panther party (an
extremist hate group according to the liberal SPLC) more likely to
support obama than romney? why did the nazis like nietzsche? why are there
more black separatist groups in the u.s. than neo nazi groups, or white
nationalist groups, or KKK chapters? it's just a loaded question that doesn't
get us very far.
he says a lot along the
lines of: "when i make a statement, i want to make sure it's correct."
(10:25) not sure how people aren't laughing every time he says this.
apparently there's two
minutes missing in the NYT version of the press conference. better
version. oddly, the NYT version, which has technical difficulties,
left out the part where he calls the guy who did this "a murderer and what
he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing." i'm not a conspiracy
guy, but it's kinda funny that the two minutes that were missing from their
version contained the very thing so many seem to want to hear from trump:
a blanket statement about how bad this action was. that said, he didn't
call the guy a terrorist and called that debate an issue of semantics.
he asks about the alt-left
and if they're to blame for anything. i don't know who the alt-left is,
but i assume it's the anti-fa and black bloc people who are following pro-trump
rallies around to stir up shit. they did it in berkeley most famously and
injured people and damaged property. the left was mostly silent about this
and seemed to blame trump and milo yiannopolous for this. this is the maddening
thing from my point of view. you really have to be disciplined in how you
dole out responsibility for these things. when trump says during a speech
that people should shut a person up and that he'll pay the legal fees,
that's clearly him inciting violence and stirring shit up. when pro-trump
protesters go to a place and anti-fa decides to make it violent, and come
prepared to be violent, then that's on them, not milo or anyone else. when
this nut job with a dodge decides to drive through a crowd, that's on him,
and maybe the group he belongs to - but i don't think you can pin that
on trump. here's the closest i think you can get to that: trump has the
most important bullhorn in the world and when he doesn't say the right
thing then it's possible he's stirring the pot either intentionally (more
likely) or out of ignorance.
now, while you can say
that i don't think it means he's to blame. he's right that this has been
going on for a while now. it's been getting worse since watergate. gingrich
stepped it up even more. 9/11 brought it up yet another notch. the fringes
of the tea party coupled with the financial crisis and the occupy movement,
was another step in the wrong direction. now we have trump and it's yet
another step down the wrong path. there's a lot going on that feeds into
a system that is eating itself. trump is hastening the process more than,
say, clinton would have. but this is what happens when you have the following
elements in play: unstable leader, inept congress, deep partisan divide,
weakening middle class, 24 hour news media motivated solely by money, poor
the core thing that seems
to be sticking in the craws of some: trump saying that both sides are to
blame for for charlottesville. i think some would call this a false equivalency.
sure, the anti-trump folks brought along bats, but it was only to defend
themselves. or, hey, it's one thing to bring a bat, it's another to bring
a car or a gun. i somewhat i agree with trump on this, though. there's
a lot of blame to be spread around on this shit, like i say above. this
has been a downward spiral for a while now and there's plenty of dirt on
most of the people in power. if you're part of the "punch a nazi" crowd
or the anti-fa crowd then you're responsible for raising the rhetoric.
what the left said after the palin ad with targets on the map? they linked
her to the reason gabby giffords was shot. basically both sides are
ramping up the rhetoric and body armor during these protests and this kind
of thing is inevitable. it's kinda like when a fat loser with a gun and
a swollen head follows a hard headed kid around at night. that situation
doesn't end well for either party. cough george zimmerman and trayvon martin
part of the problem with
this and all these political discussions is the idea of a left and right.
i've been reading about this stuff for 20 years and i honestly couldn't
give you a good definition of the left or the right. here's the spectrum
i was taught initially in school. i think it's bullshit:
here's another political
spectrum, which i was exposed to outside of school. i think it's potentially
more useful, but it's not how people actually use left/right or liberal/conservative
most of the time so it's not entirely accurate either.
this is probably the best
one, but it's also limited:
my score from 8/12/2011:
no surprise that i've moved
a bit to the right economically since starting my own business, paying
more taxes and getting older. still pretty libertarian when it comes to
social matters. i've moved a bit on that according to the quiz, but i think
that's probably because i don't give a lot of "strongly agree" or "strongly
disagree" answers and maybe i did 6 years ago.
last words on the trump
press conference...most of the mainstream media is characterizing it as
him "going rogue"... "clinically insane" "jaw dropping" "wildly off script"
"shocking" "unhinged" this, to me, is a problem. maybe i'm just desensitized
to political discourse at this point, but i didn't see much in the speech
that fit the bill for any of those adjectives. it was unlike modern presidents,
that's for sure. but he's not like most presidents. the stuff he said is
tame by political pundit standards. i really wonder if people who are tweeting
about this speech have actually seen all 20+ minutes of it. he explicitly
says that "the neo nazis and white nationalists...should be condemned totally."
(19:13 in the youtube video).
he's pretty clear and consistent on that in this press conference, so maybe
they're reacting more to it taking him a while to use such strong language
against the murderer?
i said after he won, that
the media had an uphill battle in front of them because they were seen
as deeply in pocket of the democrats, but they were going to have to report
on a lot of bad stuff from trump (because he was going to earn it). so,
in doing what they should be doing they would only reinforce the narrative
of a left-wing bias. with that being said, the way they go after him and
the way they package everything just feeds the narrative even more than
it would if they were dispassionately reporting the facts. they're really
doing themselves a disservice in the long-term with all this extreme rhetoric.
i consider myself a reasonable guy, but i'm getting to the point where
the mainstream just isn't trustworthy anymore. they sensationalize everything
and clearly have it in for the guy....and, again, he's earned it, but the
media is supposed to be like a judge. just because a murderer comes before
you in court doesn't mean you need to lecture him, ask him why he's such
a piece of shit, make fun of him, give him the worst possible sentence
and otherwise go overboard with your power. you say a few words about how
you came to your sentence, you outline the sentence and move onto the next
case. call balls and strikes. give context. report on real things that
really matter. ignore the trolling tweets. 90% of the media is unable to
grasp these simple rules that should be commonplace.
in business i think if
you have the mindset that people want problems solved then you'll be well-served
by that mantra. solve problems for your boss and exceed expectations and
you'll do quite well for yourself. this model doesn't work as well in a
corporate environment, unfortunately, because corporations don't generally
give much autonomy to their managers. this is one of many negative effects
of the coporate model. it takes what's already a below average workforce
in many ways and incentivizes even more mediocrity or substandard performance.
wrote about this the other day when i talked about the liberal echo
chamber that is academia today. it's really doing the student a great disservice
to be exposed solely to liberal ideas and charactures of token conservative
ideas as the occasional straw man. jonathan haidt wrote a book about the
left/right divide and how a lot of it is a fundamental inability to understand
what the other side values. still haven't gotten around to reading it,
but that's pretty much par for the course for me. i should get into audio
books. anyway, i'm afraid we're raising a culture of coddled idiots. i
don't think it's entirely generational, but it definitely leans in that
direction. we need to grow a lot more accustomed to having difficult conversations
with people. we need to be able to respectfully discuss big things like
politics and religion and money and race as well as bullshit pansy notions
like trigger warnings and microaggressions. what happens instead, though,
is that the younger generation texts each other anything remotely uncomfortable.
they avoid difficult thoughts by going to echo chamber schools. another
thing i see is that people sometimes just straight up ignore you nowadays.
instead of having a conversation about whatever it is that is bothering
them, they'll just ignore your correspondence. this is crazy to me because
it's totally accepted. if you're talking to someone in person and they
just ignore you when you ask them a question, you're going to think they're
insane. but if you ask a clear question via email, it's apparently totally
fine for them to ignore it. i'm pretty sure i'm not being a hypocrite on
this stuff. if i've ignored something it's because 1) i've forgotten about
it (happens with texts, but almost never with emails because texts get
pushed to the bottom, but emails stay in my inbox until i address them)
or 2) i didn't get it (has been happening with texts lately for some reason).
i think we have an epidemic
of shitty parenting in this country. some of it boils down to the attitude
"you do you." which sounds so lovely and harmonious. it reminds me a bit
of veruca salt's mom who says that what counts with children are happiness
and harmony. yeah, that's great. give your spoiled little shit head whatever
they want in order to keep the peace and let her be her...meanwhile you've
raised a solipsistic turd of a kid who isn't going to contribute anything
to society. "you do you" is fine on some level, but it's definitely possible
to take that too far. kids need some structure and respect for authority
(i'm no authoritarian, look above, but still) and understanding that they're
not the center of the universe.
to tie these two thoughts
together, part of raising a kid is teaching them that they're not always
going to be comfortable. it's not your right to be comfortable all the
time. let that settle in. you don't have a fundamental right to go
through life unscathed. you don't have a right to go through life without
being offended. you will be offended from time to time. sorry, not sorry.
sometimes you're not going to like what people are wearing (like when the
old guy said i couldn't get on the amtrak train because i was wearing a
shirt that said "let the fucking begin.") sometimes you're not going to
like what people are saying or thinking. that's okay. learning to cope
with these feelings is like any other thing in life - with practice you
will get better at ignoring it or dealing with it constructively. it's
not society's responsibility to make you feel happy. it's not my responsibility
to keep you from being offended. learn to hone your ability to brush shit
off, or else you're going to be a victim your entire life.
so, how do you raise a
kid who doesn't think they're the center of the universe, who doesn't have
the attitude that whatever i do is okay because i'm a beautiful snowflake,
who doesn't have the attitude that society needs to change in order to
accommodate their tastes and worries and comforts? i don't totally know
the answer, but it starts by letting them learn life by doing it themselves.
i'm not wiping your ass forever. i'm not talking for you when you can talk.
i'm not helping you out of uncomfortable situations. i'm not stopping all
conversation because you decide to interrupt me. i'm not going to shield
you from every crazy person on the street and i'm not going to avoid the
bad neighborhoods just because i don't want you to see poverty. you're
not the center of the universe. i love the hell out of you and i've got
your back forever, but it's your life and you need to learn to live it.
the google firing thing
is starting to get some press. i read a bit of the memo in question as
well as excerpts picked by those on the left and those on the right. i
gotta say that i agree with a decent amount of what he's saying and there
really isn't much in there that i saw, that i would consider worthy of
being labeled "controversial" or worthy of getting him fired for creating
a hostile work environment or anything (some women didn't go in to work
after the memo came out because they said they felt uncomfortable). the
reason they gave for firing him, according to the nyt, is that he advanced
harmful gender stereotypes. in firing him they only proved his point that
they are intolerant of differing views. this kind of thing shouldn't come
as any surprise. i think he nailed it when he wrote about the leftist echo
chamber that silicon valley and google have become.
it's odd because in the
abstract you can get people in the bay area to agree that echo chambers
are bad and that groupthink is bad and that diversity of ideas is a good
concept, but in reality they pretty much won't give you the time of day
if you're a republican, if you voted for trump, if you broach the topic
of the gender pay gap myth, if you push back against the SJW stuff, if
you question anything but full and complete equity (not equality) for any
and all groups they feel are disenfranchised. this reminds me a lot of
how conservatives (especially after 9/11) were blind in their acceptance
of anything the military said or did, called into question your patriotism
if you questioned g.w. bush or his policies, etc. it's really remarkable
to see how it's just two sides of the same coin in so many ways.
i've said it before, but
it's something that doesn't get a lot of discussion. whenever we think
of diversity people will generally think of it in terms of gender and race.
maybe religion now that muslims are considered an oppressed minority worthy
of liberal protection, but it basically comes down to just a couple crude
ways that we have of dividing each other. to me, it should be much more
granular than that. it should also depend upon context. if you're talking
about diversity within a neighborhood then i would want things like racial
and economic diversity in my neighborhood. if i were choosing a college
then i would probably want diversity of ideas from the professors and diversity
of geography for the students. i think a lot more could be learned at a
university like USC that has 24% international students, as opposed to
UCB which has 12% international students. a middle class hispanic kid from
california is going to bring a less challenging point of view than a middle
class kid from china or austraila. and if i'm learning for professors do
i want a black liberal professor or a white liberal professor? who cares,
they have the same view about how the world works and should work. they
may have arrived to the same conclusion in different ways, but, by definition,
they both have similar views about the role of the government or how society
works or whatever. personally, i think i missed out by essentially never
having a conservative point of view taught to me while i was in college.
i was told to write a paper about the conservative and liberal points of
view on a topic once, but i'm almost certain i never had a conservative
professor who ever questioned the concept that the government can, and
should, solve most societal problems. the most interesting professor i
had was pretty much agnostic on all that because he thought all of it was
b.s. he was by far the most interesting and thought-provoking professor
there and he wasn't there too long. universities and tech companies seem
to have a way of weeding out anyone who isn't a "right thinking" person.
it'll be a sad day when
we lose rick rubin.
here's one version
one response of mine to
the trump era has been to stop listening to the news as much. i used to
listen to NPR every day and i'd read more news, but now i don't. i also
took off a few political podcasts from my rotation. it's just too much
b.s. to keep up with on a daily basis. i still have several political podcasts,
but i'm getting the news from this weekly-ish podcasts instead of every
day as the new twitter controversy gets talked about and then forgotten.
listening to something weekly filters out the b.s. if it's not worth mentioning
in a weekly format, then it's not worth thinking about. part of the problem
our society has right now is the short attention span and 24 hour news
cycle. weekly podcasts and magazines like the week or the atlantic are
remedies for this. twitter is the worst thing you can do at this point.
started watching game of
thrones finally. it's been on the list for several years. next year will
be its last so the timing is a little early, but sometimes it's better
to be on board for the last season rather than trying to avoid spoilers.
did that with breaking bad.
i don't really understand
how one can consider themself a communist based upon, not only human nature,
but just the stuff that the founders wrote. i don't think most so-called
communists actually consider themselves communists. i don't think they
actually hold the ideas espoused by engels, for example. from engels' principles
of communism (emphasis mine):
In what way do proletarians
differ from slaves?
The slave is sold once
and for all; the proletarian must sell himself daily and hourly.
The individual slave,
property of one master, is assured an existence, however miserable it may
be, because of the masters interest. The individual proletarian, property
as it were of the entire bourgeois class which buys his labor only when
someone has need of it, has no secure existence. This existence is assured
only to the class as a whole.
The slave is outside
competition; the proletarian is in it and experiences all its vagaries.
The slave counts as
a thing, not as a member of society. Thus, the slave can have a better
existence than the proletarian, while the proletarian belongs to a higher
stage of social development and, himself, stands on a higher social level
than the slave.
The slave frees himself
when, of all the relations of private property, he abolishes only the relation
of slavery and thereby becomes a proletarian; the proletarian can free
himself only by abolishing private property in general.
What will this new
social order have to be like?
Above all, it will
have to take the control of industry and of all branches of production
out of the hands of mutually competing individuals, and instead institute
a system in which all these branches of production are operated by society
as a whole that is, for the common account, according to a common plan,
and with the participation of all members of society.
It will, in other words,
abolish competition and replace it with association.
Moreover, since the
management of industry by individuals necessarily implies private property,
and since competition is in reality merely the manner and form in which
the control of industry by private property owners expresses itself, it
follows that private property cannot be separated from competition and
the individual management of industry. Private property must, therefore,
be abolished and in its place must come the common utilization of all instruments
of production and the distribution of all products according to common
agreement in a word, what is called the communal ownership of goods.
In fact, the abolition
of private property is, doubtless, the shortest and most significant way
to characterize the revolution in the whole social order which has been
made necessary by the development of industry and for this reason it
is rightly advanced by communists as their main demand."
should a person be forced
to live by the morality and beliefs they espouse and claim to represent?
shouldn't a so-called free market conservative who wishes the government
would get out of their way be forced to thrive in a system without government
help, without government carve outs and tax cuts and crony capitalism aiding
him along the way? shouldn't a communist open his door to every tom dick
and harry because, after all, it's not really his door or his food or anything
else? seems to make sense to me, but i'm not sure a lot of people agree.
instead it seems that a
lot of people, especially those in power, have the attitude that there
should be two sets of rules - those for everyone else and those for me.
so, you get people in congress who were, until
a few years ago, exempt from insider trading laws. or you get al gore
who espouses the ills of climate change, but constantly flies all over
the world, owns three huge homes, and has a carbon footprint larger than
anyone you probably know. but guys like that get a free pass.
it's really easy to see
how the republican party and the right in general are having a bit of an
identity crisis lately. they're fractured, they have noxious elements and
they seem in disarray. what gets less coverage in the mainstream media
is that the left is also fractured, has its own noxious elements, and seems
equally unable to police itself. the b.s. at evergreen state college is
the tip of the iceberg. here's a ny times opinion
piece on some of this as well. just like the right doesn't seem to be able
to keep in check the alt-right, racist, blindly nationalist stuff, the
left seems unable to keep in check the social justice warriors run amok,
the anti-fa crowd, or the PC police that use "racism" and "homophobia"
as blugeons to silence anyone with whom they disagree. in so far as you
can hold a group accountable for the extremists within the group (though
this is limited, i would argue), it should be done equally with the right
and the left because both have really noxious and dangerous elements.
zoe asked today if naughty
girls could have sisters. we said yes and then i asked why she asked. she
said that naughty girls don't get good things and sisters are a good thing.
i love the way her brain works.
i've been recording
this old house episodes from my tv to dv-r for the better part of 10 years
now and have long had the goal of having all the old episodes. i finally
got very close to that today by figuring out a way to record them off their
webpage (available to "insiders" only). took me about a week and it takes
up over 500GB of data, but i got everything that's available in digital
format in the best resolution they offer. this is a big day. there 6 seasons
missing which is a bummer, but i got the first 16 seasons and everything
from season 25 to 38. for some reason they don't have several of them available
in that middle period. maybe one day. in the meantime, i have plenty of
stuff to watch. excited.
well trump is really screwing
the pooch lately. i think the greatest hope a trump voter could have had
was that he run the government like a business (efficiently and without
regard to politics). unfortunately for us all, he has (so far) failed at
that. multiple missteps, growing pains that dwarf the obama growing pains,
and just general disorder. he doesn't appear to have many actual skills
as a leader, manager, delegator, decision maker, strategist...
immigration seems to be
the new gay marriage for the republicans. it's the issue they use to get
out the vote and appeal to the conservative sense of outrage and changing
was watching house hunters
renovation the other day. meryl and i tried to guess what the two people
did for a living. my guess for the woman was "fashion blogger who is into
macramé." i was spot on. she's a fashion blogger for a living and
she had macramé in the background in a later scene. honestly i don't
even know what macramé is, i just knew she was the type of person
who would be into it. it was one of the most prescient moments in my life.
there's some law in NC
or some state like that where they want to make it the law for a woman
to contact the father before she gets an abortion. at first thought it
seemed not terribly unreasonable. after all, shouldn't the man have some
say over what happens to his potential child? but the more you think about
it the more you have to conclude that, even though it's not entirely fair,
you can't make this law. for me, it falls into the category of unfair,
but that's life. the fact of the matter is that sometimes biology just
isn't fair and this is one of those examples. you can't (shouldn't) force
a woman to have a baby and there are all sorts of situations where a woman
should be able to have an abortion without telling anyone about it. so,
if you're a man, it may not be entirely fair, but that's life. maybe you
should figure out your game plan and have those decisions made before you
put your dick in her. at that point it qualifies as a donation until the
baby comes out and then i think men should have equal legal rights to the
one of the major problems
with government is that it only knows force. it imprisons, it fines, it
taxes, it punishes. what it should be doing, in my view, is using its unique
ability and power in a more nuanced view, e.g. the
nudge unit in the UK. people are generally going to act the way they
want (even if that means going against social norms or against their best
interests). so what happens is the government will impose a fine or make
a new law to deter. more often than not, this just pushes the behavior
underground or makes people slightly change the way they go about doing
the same behavior. an example is the spanish lottery. the lottery is generally
seen as a regressive tax because it appeals to the poor and they spend
a disproportionate amount of their income on the hopes they will win it.
the spanish govt. saw this and decided to fix it. yay! right? so what they
did is they raised the price of a lottery ticket to a point where only
rich people could afford it. but, as i said, people are going to do what
they want so poor people decided to pool their money together and buy shares
of lottery tickets instead of buying individual tickets. problem not solved.
another one is the raw milk problem. apparently buying raw milk is illegal
in some areas because it's considered unclean by the government. so, people
get around this by buying shares of cows and since they own part of the
cow, the byproduct of the cow is legal for you to consume. regulation averted
(for people with the money to get around the issue). of course this is
just the tip of the iceberg. anywhere you have regulation or taxes, there
are ways that people come up with the get around this stuff.
it seems to me that it
would be a better use of time for the government to spend its (our) money
not on regulation and enforcement (especially of these minor issues), but
on education or changes in culture. but, you have some people who think
that a) government is the answer to all society's problems and b) that
government ought to solves those problems with draconian measures like
regulation, taxes, new laws...all with the ultimate threat of imprisonment
behind it. the more i think about this stuff, the more i think that this
isn't only wrong headed, but morally wrong.
you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don't blame other
things Comey, Russia you blame yourself, Senate Minority Leader Charles
E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview previewing the new plan. So what
did we do wrong? People didn't know what we stood for, just that we were
against Trump. And still believe that." i recently remarked that clinton
refused to actually take responsibility for her loss in november. looks
like schumer figured it out. i've heard her blame comey, russia, sexism,
finishing up season one
of this old house right now. i have to take it back a bit about them being
unsafe with regards to asbestos and lead. in the later episodes vila talks
a bit about lead safety and asbestos as a danger. that said, the techniques
they use are not at all in line with today's standards. they were ahead
of their time in putting down plastic when sanding lead paint, but they
didn't have access to the HEPA vacs of today or the tools that focus on
dust extraction. they also show how to use a blowtorch to strip paint,
which just releases lead fumes. it's great to see all the hand work they
do. hand nailing on the floors in spots, hand nailing casing, hand nailing
lattice work even. whenever i take apart an old house i think about the
fact that it took a different type of person to make a house in the old
days. a guy like me wouldn't last in the days of rip sawing 2x lumber,
hand driving square cut and 20d nails, walking top plates during rough
in...much respect to the guys who got it done in the days before power
tools and OSHA and everything else.
this old house is one of
my favorite shows ever. they finally made the episodes available on their
site to TOH insider members so I joined up and got a free silva brothers
shirt and access to the old episodes. pretty cool watching the old shows.
bob vila was actually my least favorite host of the 3. i've started watching
episodes from the first season and it's kinda funny to see some of the
things they did and to see how far they, and we, have come since then.
this first season was in 1979 so worries about lead paint and asbestos
were pretty new at the time. they knock down a cast iron boiler with asbestos
insulation on it with no regard for the asbestos falling apart upon impact.
nowadays that would be a different story. bob vila tries to knock down
a wall at one point with one hand and can't do it and says, "oh i thought
that was going to be easier." so he uses two hands and then walks through
the hole and starts talking about the new room layout while there's a huge
plume of dust around him. the whole season is pretty raw like that. it's
funny. so are his wardrobe choices.
that said, bob is helping
invent a genre so you gotta give him some slack. he has a pretty good general
knowledge, even though he's kinda goofy sometimes and overly exuberant.
got an email from Amy Finkelstein
(MIT Economist I cited below). I emailed her regarding her research on
increasing costs in healthcare and asked for a summary on why she thinks
healthcare costs are so much higher now than 40 years ago. here's her response:
"Thanks for your interest
in my work!
The consensus among
economists is that technological change in medicine is what's driving most
of the growth in health care spending. I'm pretty convinced by this argument
but two caveats:
1. it's an argument
"by residual" - i.e. if we look at all the other possible explanations
(aging of the populatoin, raising income etc) we can't explain much.
still that's not the most satsifactory approach...
2. it kind of kicks
the can down the road - i.e. begs the question of "what in turn is driving
technoogical change in medicine"
that's where my papers
sort of comes in - i argue that insurance - by increasing aggregate demand
for health care - increases the profitability of adopting and hence developing
new medical technologies.
Hope that's useful?"
asset forfeiture is in the news again. i remember hearing about this
on the local level years ago. i just don't understand how any right thinking
person is okay with this kind of crap. not sure how it's considered even
remotely constitutional. and though the war on drugs isn't responsible
for as much incarceration as people think (i addressed this last month,
i think), it is responsible for increased govt. power which has lead to
things like civil asset forfeiture. sessions recently went back to pre-obama
rules on the issue and people who care about civil liberties haven't responded
this reminds me of a similar
situation with casinos. basically, if you start winning too much money
they can just kick you out and not pay you. they say you're counting cards
and it's against the rules (which i've never seen posted anywhere) so get
lost. if you have a lawyer then maybe you can make a case out of it, but
good luck. same goes for civil forfeiture. the cops take $500 cash off
you, don't charge you for any crime, say the money was suspected drug money
and tell you to get lost. no judge or jury. good luck taking them to court.
you just got robbed by the government. that's what you get for being black.
money is always good, but they had a quick piece on the federal budget
that i think is mandatory for anyone who cares about how our tax money
is spent (this should be all americans). it's 16 minutes. if you pretend
to care about trump or the government, then you can spend 16 minutes listening
to how your money is spent. the majority of the people i talk with don't
actually have a good handle on where the money goes, so the odds that you
already know it all are pretty slim. i have the big 3 (medicare/medicaid
(33%), social security (27%), the military (16%)) and debt service (5-6%)
memorized, but don't know as much about the last 20% so it was helpful
even for someone who spends more time than the average person worrying/reading
about this stuff.
with the budget there seem
to be two ways an argument can go..."why are we spending $1 million studying
the reproductive habits of pigs (or whatever)?" or "why are we spending
$10 million on trump's security at mar-a-lago?" and the other way it can
go is "all the shit that we usually complain about is only a fraction of
20% of our budget so why are we fighting about it? that's the camp that
i fall into more often than the first camp. i've definitely been upset
about the handouts and the bullshit programs and government waste, but
the 4 items i listed above are 80% of our budget...shouldn't that be where
we have the most discussion? social security, medicare/medicaid, the military.
and mostly because of those programs we're 19 Trillion in debt so we have
to pay 5-6% of our government revenue on servicing that debt. $229
billion disappears because of debt. and we're arguing about $600 million
going to planned parenthood or $445 million on NPR. if the previous generations
didn't pile up any debt then we could fund planned parenthood for the next
380 years with the money we lose on debt payments in 1 year. 514 years
worth of govt. assistance to NPR if our ancestors hadn't run up the debt.
i'm not a math person so i can't crunch these numbers, but the interest
rates are currently extremely low. what happens if the interest rates double
in the next 10 years? if we're paying 12%+ of our budget on debt interest
and the baby boomers retire and the millennials still can't get jobs then
who's paying taxes? at that point we're fucked economically. if we lose
reserve currency status then we're ultra fucked.
i wrote years ago that
i wasn't as worried about the debt time bomb as some because we have the
biggest military in the world. it also helps that we are the world's reserve
currency, but those aren't written in stone and they only protect us from
economic realities so much. here's
the review for I.O.U.S.A. i'm talking about. wrote it in 2009 and i
stand by it.
zoe has been trying our
patience lately. that's all i'll say about that.
paper on medicare's impact on the overall cost of healthcare. basically
Amy Finkelstein, MIT Department of Economics says that medicare has contributed
to 40% of the overall per capita cost increase in healthcare. "A back of
the envelope calculation based on my estimates of the impact of Medicare
suggest that the overall spread of health insurance between 1950 and 1990
may be able to explain at least 40 percent of the five-fold increase in
real per capita health spending over this time period, and potentially
much more. Public policy played an important role in the spread of health
insurance over this period, through public health insurance programs such
as Medicare and Medicaid as well as the tax subsidy to employer provided
health insurance. The results therefore indirectly suggest that U.S. policy
figured prominently in the substantial growth in the health care sector
over the last half century."
not a linkin park fan,
but another tortured musician killing himself just makes you think about
all the ones before him. fucked up to think about how much talent was lost
just in my lifetime.
sure why this has so few views. should be a classic.
being on the computer for
more than 30 minutes usually makes my wrist hurt, but working all day doesn't
do a thing. working does bother my shoulder which has been giving me trouble
for over a year now. seen the doctor twice and finally got referred to
a physical therapist so we'll see what comes of that. one doctor said he
thought it could be a minor rotator cuff tear. seems like that would have
given me more problems over the last year, though, so i doubt it. then
again, something more minor probably wouldn't last a year so who knows.
one of the things they
found out after obamacare is...well, let me rewind. one thing they thought
is that people were going to the ER as a last resort because they didn't
have real healthcare. the thought was that normal people had problems that
they let get too big and then would to to the ER for normal care instead
of taking care of it preemptively due to the fact that they didn't have
health insurance to cover regular doctors' visits. so, they expected that
ER visits would decrease once people had healthcare and regular visits
would be part of that. turns out they were wrong. ER visits increased among
these people. when you think about it this isn't much of a surprise. it's
a pretty well established rule that when you get something for free or
have already paid for it, you're more likely to use it.
so, we pay about $1000/month
for health CARE. as a result i think very little about going to the doctor.
it only costs me another $20 for most visits (my shoulder visit cost another
$70) so i may as well go to the doctor for $20 since i've already paid
so much just to have access. it's a membership fee, in essence. the larger
effect is that people don't think much about visiting the doctor or going
to the ER because the majority of the cost is already sunk. demand increases
and so do prices.
now think about another
kind of plan where i pay $100/month for health INSURANCE. if i get hit
by a car or come down with some disease then i'm covered and won't go bankrupt.
but if my shoulder hurts then i need to decide whether or not it's worth,
say, $225 to visit the doctor. the larger effect of this is that i'm more
likely to simply email my doctor or help or do a low cost phone appointment
or do some research online. as a result the doctor has more time to deal
with real problems. we don't need as many doctors. demand goes down and
so do prices.
in one of the more recent
episodes of the
weeds podcast they talk about the opioid epidemic. they talk a bit
about the idea that maybe some of the answer is learning to live with some
level of pain. i think we have an unrealistic expectation created, in part,
by the success of western medicine when it comes to dealing with pain management.
it's something western medicine is very good at treating and so we expect
that we should never have any pain. here's some news: life is pain, time
to toughen up a bit.
of healthcare spending is on unnecessary services. defensive medicine
and tort reform is a part of that.
another part of that is
the fee for service model which basically just incentivizes performing
more procedures to get more money.
the fact that payment is
so spread out is a big problem as well. your employer might pay part of
the cost. your insurance company will pay part. and you will pay part,
but it's probably taken out of your paycheck so you don't think of it as
much. the whole concept of your employer paying for health insurance has
never made sense to me. why should it be that way? it shouldn't. in part
because it disincentivizes people from changing jobs or going to work for
themselves (this was a major barrier when i was thinking of going out on
my own). why do employers pay for your healthcare?
when there's a big question
like that the answer is almost always one of 3 things: money. government.
corporations. in this case it's government. the
government made a law restricting wages during WW2. so, in order for
companies to compete they started adding healthcare benefits to the compensation
the deeper you get into
these topics the more you see distortions in the market created by either
the government or special interests/corporations. these distortions almost
always have negative long-term consequences for the majority of us. the
government put wage controls in place and companies needed to attract better
employees so they got creative. this law and the creative solution companies
necessarily came up with has had enormous effects on our healthcare system.
it's limited the individual mobility of everyday people who may lose a
job and then lose their healthcare as a result. this kind of shit leads
to stopgap bullshit measures like COBRA (basically a failure). this law
also spread out the cost of healthcare from the individual and insurance
company to a third party (the employer). all of a sudden the employer is
now in the health insurance game. so they hire more HR managers and go
away from their core competency just because of this one dumb law. how
much lost productivity is created and how much extra cost is passed onto
the consumer because companies everywhere are hiring HR managers and paying
for part (or all) of their employees' health insurance? it's impossible
to grasp just how much of an impact the government has in the way it distorts
the economy. one stopgap measurement they could enact would be to tax these
health benefits as income, but they don't do that.
these kinds of things are
so annoying because we can't just reform our way out of them. often it's
a very painful process. i think of it like the QWERTY keyboard that we
all use. because typewriters would bind when one would type too quickly,
they designed the layout of the keyboard to be purposely inefficient so
as to avoid the binding of the type hammers. of course we have computers
now so there's no such thing as typing too fast....but we (almost) all
still use the QWERTY keyboard. there are much faster keyboards out there
and programs you can use to change your keyboard to the more efficiently
laid out types, but we're stuck with what we have because of inertia. we're
stuck with QWERTY and we're still stuck with employers providing healthcare
for so many people. one dumb law is like a shitty course of bricks at the
bottom of a large building's foundation...even if the law is long gone.
can a theoretical government
make the right policies and get this stuff right? sure. can our government
do it? i don't believe it can. we haven't gotten much right in the last
50 years when it comes to policy making and big government projects. if
you're someone who believes in the power of the american government to
get these sorts of things right going forward, please tell me what, from
the recent past, makes you think that. i see some good movement when it
comes to eliminating stupid restrictions that the government had on things
like gay marriage or other equality movements, but that's the government
undoing something it's done wrong, not doing some good from square one.
drug interactions, hospital
acquired infections and medical mistakes combined make up the third
leading cause of death in the country. in other words, stay away from
hospitals as much as you can.
why did corporate and personal
income taxes start to separate drastically in 1945? what did FDR/Truman
do to start this trend? what did Eisenhower do to seemingly enshrine it?
as good a time as any to
revisit the best of the
00s. i feel pretty good about my picks still so that's a good sign.
i said at the time that i didn't love the arcade fire album, but that has
changed. it's now one of my favorites of the decade and would be on the
top 10 list if i were to do it today. think i was ahead of the curve on
the black angels tracks. vern was definitely right to add TV as a category.
he was ahead of the curve on the TV craze and i was a late adopter. he
also picked some good songs. he had the ruby suns album and if i had it
to do over again i'd have ruby suns' tane mahuna on my best songs list.
i have all my songs on itunes rated out of 5 stars, but i also made a playlist
of 6 star songs for the songs that truly rise above, and tane mahuna is
on it. i wish more people had done the songs portion of the poll because
it's a lot easier to check out than an entire album.
i don't think i'll be able
to do much more than a top 10 songs lists this decade. i pretty much don't
listen to albums anymore. podcasts take up all my at work listening time
and i usually hop around a lot from song to song while i'm on the computer
(which happens only about once a week now anyway).
one example of the erosion of personal responsibility.
seems like society is creating people who are more and more
specialized and less and less capable of taking care of themselves. seems
like the natural progression from that is some form of socialism or communism.
if i can't take care of myself then i can either blame myself and live
with the consequences (or seek improvement) or vote for the rest of society
to take care of me by voting in ever increasing social programs. "A democracy
cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until
the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury."
not sure who said it, but that's where we are right now. everyone wants
lower taxes. everyone wants their shit paid for by the government. everyone
thinks they have a good argument for why their shit should be paid for
and your shit shouldn't. everyone wants free stuff and no one wants responsibility.
lately i've been thinking about what government handouts
and welfare programs are morally justified. i think medicare is legit.
SNAP is legit. free education makes sense. some level of free healthcare
is pretty much fine with me. but the more i think about it, the less okay
i am with social security. it's about 25% of our total federal budget (military
is about 16%) and it goes primarily to the oldest people. in other words,
to the people who have had the longest time to build up a nest egg, get
their lives together, and build towards a retirement, if that's what they
choose to do. if it were, say, 10% of our federal spending i could probably
justify it in the following way: the social contract we agree to is that
if you work the vast majority of your life then you deserve to have society
give back to you for your contribution. so, even if you're a janitor your
whole life and you can't afford to build up a decent nest egg, you should
get some retirement thanks to the taxpayers because you did your part for
40-ish years. that's really the best moral argument i can see for allowing
social security to exist as it currently does.
my counter point to that would be that even a janitor needs
to plan for his/her future by putting some money aside so they can retire
if that's what they choose to do. should retirement be a right? should
it be your right to work 40 years out of an average life span of 80 years?
the average american
who lives to 65 will live another 20 years, so that means 20 years
of social security. does it make sense that 25% of your taxes should pay
for the old person who may or may not have had the ability to save for
obviously all the old people should get what they bargained
for and shouldn't have the rug pulled out from under them, but i think
that people under 50 need to figure out a different retirement plan. even
though i sound like a bitter old man, that means me too.
according to the CBO:
"In 2013, households in the top, middle, and bottom income quintiles received
53, 14, and 5 percent, respectively, of the nation's before-tax income
and paid 69, 9, and 1 percent, respectively, of federal taxes." this is
a good example of the kind of thing i never learned in school because it
was always about how the top 1% are screwing the rest of us. it was only
after i looked for an alternate opinion that i came across these sorts
of facts. to restate: the top 20% earn 53% of all the income, but pay 69%
of all the federal taxes. ask the average person about this and they wouldn't
have a clue. their perception is this: the top 20% (or whatever number
you want to pick) makes way more than everyone else and doesn't pay their
fair share of taxes. polls always show this to be true. americans think
that the rich generally don't pay their fair share of taxes. i guess you
have to define "fair share" first. but whatever your definition of "fair"
might be, the truth is that they pay the great majority of the federal
taxes. when you add in property taxes (which they are more likely to pay
as property owners) and sales taxes (which they most likely pay more of
as they buy more stuff) then the trend only increases: they pay more taxes
than the rest of us combined. so, maybe we should rethink this whole class
warfare stuff a little?
so there's a defense of the rich. the problem comes when
the ultra-wealthy .01% who earn their money in certain ways (hedge fund
managers, for example) are able to avoid taxes. tax avoidance at this level
is a real problem and i have no problem with anyone who gets upset about
that. i also don't have any problems with getting upset with tax avoiders
like GE and Apple who hire teams of tax lawyers to employ the dutch
sandwich or the double
irish to avoid anything close to their fair share. there needs to be
a minimum tax for high level earners and there needs to be a lot of reform
in the tax loopholes that exist because of crony capitalism.
speaking of which, charles
koch was on freakonomics the other day and they did a two part interview
with him. if you think you know him, you owe it to yourself to listen to
the interview. don't listen to it if you wan to keep your opinions, though.
the 3 things he cited as the biggest issues in the country: crony capitalism,
corporate welfare and special interests. i can't really disagree with him.
i wish they had more time to talk about those three in detail, but here
are some thoughts i have on those things, most of which wasn't covered
special interests i define as all the groups that have their
hands out looking for a special tax break or earmark or projectionist policy
(chicken tax, for
example). all those special interests have led to a death by a thousand
cuts, in my opinion. if you read enough and pay attention then it seems
that basically everyone is getting special treatment here and there. look
into the sugar lobby or the farm bill or everything that goes into tariff
policy...it's just absurd how much goes on behind the scenes and how many
special interests have their hands out.
crony capitalism and corporate welfare are kinda tied to
the special interests, but basically powerful corporate interests buying
access and legislation that is beneficial to them. these would be considered
progressive issues by most people, but here's a koch brother talking about
how insidious and detrimental they are to society. i basically agree that
government needs to stop being in bed with corporations and that corporations
have too much sway in governments at all levels. government shouldn't be
in the business of distorting the markets and fixing the game for certain
industries. but there's always some sad sack story about Carrier moving
their factory out of the country and there's always a politician willing
to give them the moon so he can say he saved X number of jobs. when it's
your job or your pet industry (solar industry, for example) you're more
than happy to give them tax breaks so they keep the jobs in the country
or whatever, but when it's coal or when it's Trump and Carrier then you
see the error in the logic. again, everyone wants free shit for themselves
and their friends, but not for others and certainly not if it's going to
mean less money in their paycheck.
this entire entry should just be labeled TINSTAAFL. there
is no such thing as a free lunch.
what is europe doing differently from us on terrorism? they
seem to be getting hit harder than we are lately.
skewering of a gender studies journal.
there was a podcast i was listening to about the dewey decimal
system and the fights some progressive groups have to get different categories
recognized. for example there are like 8 christian subjects and then one
for "other religions" and the implication is that christianity is really
important and all the others are just lumped in one category. another debate
was about getting african americans their own category recently, which
seemed to make sense to me. but they also complained that indian art was
a separate category rather than being included in the same category as
van gogh and other great artists. sometimes i think you can't win with
Chanel is sponsoring the malcolm gladwell podcast and i guess
their motto is "Choose simplicity over excess, comfort over appearance
and intuition over principles." the first two make sense, but choosing
intuition over principles seems problematic to say the least.
freakonomics podcast brought up a study about unwed mothers giving
birth. in 1960 this number was 5% in 2010 it was 40%. the woman looked
into the numbers and there are a lot of people like meryl and i who are
committed, but not really in a rush to get married or don't care about
marriage or whatever. but there are a lot of people who aren't really committed.
and even the people like us who say they're committed end up breaking up
within 5 years if they don't end up getting married. turns out that marriage
has an important social role and creates another barrier of exit from the
relationship. kids growing up outside of marriage suffer as well, and that's
the real problem. i'm only scratching the surface here, so you should check
the older i get the more i see the wisdom of certain things
in society. old fashioned ideas like marriage and real commitment and manners
and integrity and all those conservative ideas that the old fogeys are
pitching to us which seem so trite or outmoded...they have a purpose. conservatives
want to keep these ideas and liberals want to overturn them and begin anew.
we need both. we need ben and elaine running away from their parents and
the nearly arranged marraige at the end of the Graduate. we need the next
generation to pave their own path. we also need the old fogeys telling
us about some of those things that have been passed down through the ages
for damn good reason. some of that stuff may come off as too conservative
or as regressive gender roles or whatever label you want to add, but so
many of them are there for good reason....the wisdom of the ages and the
wisdom of the masses passed along.
"There are some ideas so
absurd that only an intellectual could believe them." - George Orwell
i really hope i'm still
alive when the transracial and transspecies movements are taken seriously.
we're finding ever smaller groups that feel maligned by society. too much
time on our hands, i think.
what you are vs. what you
do. i think in our society there's been a move towards emphasizing the
former at the cost of the latter. identity politics are a big part of this.
as someone who feels very strongly that the proof is in the pudding, that
actions speak louder than words, and all that old fashioned nonsense, this
idea that what you are is more important than your actions is troubling.
i was talking to ethan
(he's the guy who's going to be our new hire and he's been training on
the weekends once in a while) about troubleshooting some electrical today.
i was talking about how to determine what each wire in the box was doing
and i said that you have to let the data give you the answer. sometimes
there will be two wires that look black in a box even though one should
be white and the other should be black. sometimes there will be a white
wire that is actually hot, even though you might usually think of the white
wire as being neutral. all these wires are pieces of copper with colored
insulation. the last person to touch them may have been a total fuck up.
don't assume you know anything about the wires based upon how they look.
test them and let the facts sort it out. so, if you test the white wire
and it comes back as hot and the black wire comes back as neutral then
that's the truth, even though it should be the other way around.
what the fuck do i care
about what you're labeled or what you call yourself? all i care about is
your actions. if you're labeled as a white wire and you can shock me because
you're actually the ungrounded conductor then the proof is in the pudding.
if you're a psychotic solipsistic maniac, but you have a D or an R next
to your name does that mean i'm supposed to trust that you abide by the
tenants of that party? fuck no. you can call yourself whatever you want,
you can package your bullshit however you want, but all that matters is
what you do. no amount of labeling or talk is going to get you anywhere
with me, but i seem to be in the minority.
i recommended the malcolm
gladwell revisionist history podcast a while back and now it's back on
air, or whatever you say with podcasts. the latest episode i heard was
about how awful golf courses are. i'm not a golfer and i've never considered
myself a golfer. i have golfed, i own golf clubs, but i haven't played
in years and i've never been real adamant about it. that said, his recent
episode about it was easily the worst episode he's released so far. he
attacked golf primarily from the point of view of golf courses as a waste
from an opportunity cost perspective. when he stays in brentwood in LA
with his friend there's a small path for runners and it's right next to
a large golf course. he laments the wasted space. he laments the lost property
tax income (because of prop. 13). he laments the lack of biodiversity and
environmental impact. a lot of his argumentation came down to a sleight
of hand where he'd talk negatively about a thing adjacent to golf courses
and impugn them through their proximity or by association. so, he'd continually
mention rich white guys and country clubs because both those things are
viewed negatively and since they are often associated with golf courses
or were associated with the golf course in his story, the golf courses
got some of the bad juju as well. at one point he literally said that LA
has griffith park and nothing else. "there are no other parks in LA." a
guest said "when you fly over LA all you see are golf courses." of course
he'd call all this hyperbole if pressed on it, but i think it's fair to
say it's idiotic. here's
a list of some parks in LA (over 250). that list doesn't include state
parks like topanga state park which is huge (11,000 acres). it doesn't
include the beach which is a great place to run and play. it doesn't include
the angeles national forest which is over 1,000 sq. miles. it doesn't include
los padres national forest which is almost 3,000 sq. miles. does LA have
a city park as big as central park? no. does it have a lot of parks and
a ton of open land in the surrounding area? hell yes. basically his argument
is that golf courses are for rich white guys and not for the people so
he doesn't like them and wants them turned into parks. fair enough, a lot
of the golf courses in LA are probably for mostly rich people. there are
also some public parks where very working class people enjoy a day out
and i don't see much harm in that. they also make for a good landing spot
planes can't land.
university of amherst came
up with a healthcare plan that relies on a 2.3% tax on business gross receipts.
i think that this wouldn't have meant much to me 10 years ago and i don't
think it means much to many people who don't know the first thing about
business or the economy. evidently this list includes the morons at the
university of amherst who proposed the tax. a tax on gross receipts is
possibly the dumbest tax i've ever heard of. it means that all the money
that flows through a business gets taxed. so, if it's money i'm spending
on payroll or tools or business expenses it's still getting taxed. this
is different from a tax profits. for a business like mine it would suck,
but for a business that sells goods (instead of services) it would end
them and prevent many from ever getting really started.
i have less and less faith
in smart people every day. the business tax example happens to be something
i know a small bit about, but the point is that you can't know about everything.
worst case scenario is that some person or group thinks they know a lot
and they institute some plans based upon their knowledge and it has missed
things like this in it. best case scenario is that some person or group
knows that they don't know everything and they do their best to vet their
idea by distributing it amongst various peers who know about different
fields and then it gets released. but even then, 9/10 times there's still
going to be unforeseen circumstances and unintended consequences and things
are going to be better in some ways and worse in others. best case scenario
after that is that we tweak the bad things until they're minimized and
then tweak those things again until the unintended consequences are as
minimal as possible. but this never seems to be the way things go. all
the social engineering we attempt seems to just create different problems.
and there's always an academic out there who says "well they didn't do
it right" or "well, they got unlucky because of these underlying conditions
or because of something outside of everyone's control." the supply side
economics bunch is a classic example of this; as are the socialists. "well
the supply side experiment in kansas would have worked if brownback hadn't
changed the way businesses count income." "well, that wasn't real
socialism because of yada yada yada."
that ties into another
pet peeve - blaming everything, but yourself. hillary did this a little
while back. in a speech she said she took complete blame for losing, but
then listed all the ways in which she was screwed by others - comey stole
the election from me, the russians stole the election from me, misogyny
stole the election...i don't think some people understand what it means
to take the blame for something. here's how it goes for those with integrity:
"i fucked up, my bad." period. then you shut the fuck up after that. here's
an alternate version: "i fucked up. here's what i did wrong: i didn't visit
the states that i should have. i took some votes for granted. i didn't
take the advice of some of my advisors. i'm sorry." that's how it works.
the other thing is called bullshit. the other thing is akin to "i'm sorry
i hit you baby, but you really need to stop bitching at me so much because
it makes me upset and you know i can't control my temper." wait, what?
did you just say sorry and then blame it on me? how does that work?
politicians don't know
how to take responsibility. you'll find it as no surprise that the most
annoying version of this is the blame nader b.s. after gore lost in 2000.
anything they could find to take the onus off of gore was trotted out before
an ounce of personal responsibility was taken after that election. it was
about everything other than their own failures. but perhaps the best example
of this is trump. everything great that happens near/to him is because
of him. everything bad that happens near/to him is because of someone else.
there's a guy named jocko
willinck who has this philosophy called extreme ownership . maybe it goes
too far, but i think it illustrates a point and it's kind of the way i
think about my life lately. basically the idea is that you take responsibility
for everything that happens in your life. i haven't really read or listened
to him talk about it much, but the phrase "extreme ownership" is a useful
one. i have a lot of cavities and here are two ways i could go about having
that conversation with a friend:
1. man, i have like 10
cavities, it sucks. my parents kinda talked about flossing when i was growing
up and i knew i was supposed to do it, but no one ever made me do it or
anything. when i got out of college i didn't have much money so of course
i didn't go to the dentist so i wasn't getting those cleanings every 6
months. also, i've read that some people are more prone to getting cavities
because of the ph level or something and that the gaps in some people's
teeth are just right for holding food so it makes it more likely that you're
going to get decay so...
2. man, i have like 10
cavities, it sucks. i eat a lot of sweets and went several years only flossing
like once every week or two so i guess i'm just reaping what i sowed. trying
to get better about flossing now and i use mouthwash a lot more than i
used to so...
both those conversations
could totally happen and both say a lot about how a person approaches their
life. in both instances everything i said is 100% factual for my life.
in the first version i'm telling the truth, but everything is about me
being a victim. my parents didn't make me floss (but i knew what i was
supposed to do). i was poor and didn't have dental coverage (i spent my
money on other things, though). it's true that i've heard some genetic
elements can lead to one person being more prone to cavities than another,
but that's just me shirking responsibility. in the second version i don't
play up any of the things that bail me out of my own responsibility and
i own up to my own weaknesses.
i think the second version
is a much better way to live your life. i also think being friends with
the first person is a major pain. the first person is a complainer who
doesn't take ownership in life. my dad used to talk about being a leaf
in the wind. the first person is just a leaf in the wind...no control over
their life, just floating along. he also used to say "luck is the residue
of design." turns out john milton said it first, but maybe that makes it
all the better.
luke is probably the luckiest
guy i know and here's a good example: he got it in his head that he was
going to drive to the super bowl when it was at the niners stadium and
check it out. he didn't have a ticket or any real plan, but he went there
and hung around and scoped things out. he saw stephen curry and his entourage
walking along and just walked in behind them as they went through the v.i.p.
entrance. so, he got into the super bowl by luck. but the luck was the
result of him deciding to get off his couch and walk around and see what
opportunity came along. then he was smart enough and brave enough to go
for it. only then was he lucky enough that it worked. so, yeah, luck is
part of it...always is. but he was motivated, smart and brave....then
i listen to a podcast i've
referenced before called 'how i built this' about how different entrepreneurs
built their empire. everyone from mark cuban to the guy who built five
guys to the woman behind kate spade or the woman behind spanx. there have
been probably 40 episodes by now and all but one have cited luck as a major
contributing factor in making it big. for mark cuban he was lucky that
the thing he got really into (computers) was highly profitable when his
company decided to sell to yahoo. if he had some along 10 years earlier
it's possible that he'd be rich, but not billionaire rich.
the flip side of extreme
ownership in the negative example above is when something good happens.
it's hard enough to take responsibility when something bad is in your life,
so maybe the flip side is that it's really easy to take total ownership
when something good is in your life. two more conversations:
man, we just sold our old
house for $799k and we bought it for $290k. after all is said and done
we're going to make like $300k on it. we worked really hard on that place...bought
it low and sold it high. put a lot of sweat equity into it while learning
on the job. we killed that deal and now we're basking in the delight of
an amazing down payment for our next house.
man, we just sold our old
house for $799k and we bought it for $290k. after all is said and done
we're going to make like $300k on it. we got super lucky...we had the right
agent who told us not to raise our asking price even though we hadn't heard
back from the bank after a couple months. we were extremely lucky that
meryl's dad was able to finance the deal and the renovation for us. we
had great neighbors who never reported us to the city for doing unpermited
work or complaining about working late at night. we got really lucky that
we were ready to look for a house when the worst housing crisis in our
lifetimes was going on so prices were depressed. we got just as lucky that
the real estate market rebounded just as we were looking for an upgrade.
we got lucky that i found a job that let me work 3-4 days a week so i could
spend more time on the house. so many things needed to come together to
make that work out as well as it did.
the first version is extreme
ownership run amok and the second version is basic humility.
gandhi's seven sins:
Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Religion without sacrifice.
Politics without principle.
every once in a while the
supreme court not only gets it right, but does so in a unanimous manner.
the case in this instance is of a band called the slants. they're asian
americans and they were denied the right to trademark their name because
it was considered offensive. to grant a trademark for such an offensive
name is anathema to a liberal society, so the argument goes. i first heard
about this on a podcast a year or so ago (can't recall which one) and then
it was brought up again in a planet money podcast recently. i don't think
the argument flies that the trademark is equivalent to a government approval.
i think another argument (though this may be a separate case) was the idea
that government can nix a personalized license plate that says "f slants,"
so they should be able to nix this as well. personally i don't have a problem
with either instance being allowed by the government. that said, i think
the trademark case is even more clear cut. it's not up to the government
to determine what's objectionable to trademark. why should they? it's an
economic decision to trademark whatever it is that you're trying to market.
the government shouldn't be the moral police. kennedy, ginsburg, sotomayor
and kagan spoke to this element in their decision (the decision was 8-0,
but those justices offered additional reasoning behind their decision)..."it
is a fundamental principle of the first amendment that the government may
not punish or suppress speech based on disapproval of the ideas or perspectives
the speech conveys." besides that it seems that this business just gets
into splitting hairs really quickly. can't have a band called the slants,
but can ice cube and dr. dre trademark NWA? does the trademark office know
what the n stands for? does it matter if they do or if the public does?
and, as ginsburg asked, does it matter if the public knows that the slants
are using the term to take back ownership of the slur?
of course this couldn't
have happened from a political standpoint, but i wonder what would have
happened if the founders had followed their fundamental disdain for powerful
government to its logical conclusion. that is, much of the articles of
confederation and the constitution and bill of rights that followed were
about avoiding a strong centralized government. what if they had applied
that properly and allowed women and minorities to be real people from the
very beginning? would we have evolved as a country that kept the power
of the federal government in check if those fundamental rights were granted
early on? because, at least part of the reason that the government is viewed
as the answer to problems is because (oddly and somewhat contradictorily)
it took the federal government to stop the federal government from discriminating
against women and blacks. so, in an odd and very real way, people look
at the government as solving the problem that the government was causing
in the first place; at least that's my perception of the average person's
perception. for some reason the average person doesn't seem to think of
the civil rights movement as restricting government power. or maybe i'm
missing something. but if they do view it that way, why would they want
to ever give the government more power? i think i'm missing something.
maybe it falls under "that was then this is now" or "government also does
good things" or... with trump in power i hope a lot of liberals, who generally
want a robust central government, rethink some of these things like the
expansion of presidential power under basically every president since FDR.
you shouldn't view it as "what power can we grant the next Democrat so
that they don't have to work with a Republican congress. you should view
it as "when this power is given to my worst enemy, what are they going
to do with it?" when you ask that question instead of a variation of the
first one, then you're getting a lot closer to a better system.
so, when obama had both
the house and senate and chose to ram through obamacare instead of trying
to limit his own power it set the precedent for the next guy. when LBJ
rammed through the gulf of tonkin resolution under false pretenses, he
set the precedent for the next guy. when was the last time the congress
actually declared war? the system is broken because each party and each
person who has been in power since at least FDR has asked the question
"how can i get more power to get my agenda enacted?" not "how can i make
sure checks and balances are restored?" or "what happens if my worst enemy
is in charge some day?"
invisibilia is a fairly
good podcast. they had an episode about emotions and how they're formed.
basicaly the new science apparently says that emotions are formed around
concepts that you learn growing up. without these basic concepts that you
learn early on, you wouldn't have these emotions later in life. they make
the analogy to people who are born blind and then get corneal transplants.
their brain doesn't have visual concepts so all they see is light and dark.
they say that there are four basic emotions: pleasant, unpleasant, arousal,
calm. everything else is nurture, not nature. all the other emotions we
have are concepts formed in society and those are our ways of making sense
of those four basic feelings. so they're saying that we actually have a
lot more control over our emotions than we used to think. change the concepts
surrounding emotions and we control the emotions. interesting
episode, part one.
jad abumrad is the worst
part of radiolab. he seriously sounds like he's 15 still. i think he's
also the one behind the silly sound design stuff they do on that show.
they need to dial that back like 5 notches.
anyone following the fun
over at evergreen college? we live in interesting times.
about 20 years ago i was
at my grandma's in fresno and was watching what i think was a sex change
operation show on tv. i don't know why it was on tv and i don't really
know why i was watching other than being fascinated. but what i do remember
is that it was a man becoming a woman when they showed his breasts they
cut it open a bit and everything was showing just fine. then they added
an implant and as soon as they did that they blurred out the nipple. because
now this is a female breast and so the nipple is off limits on tv. 4 seconds
ago it was a man's breast, which is fine. now it's a woman's breast, which
we can't see. there's just so much wrong with that i can't even begin to
merritt seems to like neil
gaiman. coraline is her favorite movie and she seemed to like stardust
the other day as well.
the typical liberal view
on criminal justice reform is that a lot of it is because of stupid drug
crimes. end the war on drugs and you'll get rid of a lot of prisoners.
that and the privatization of prisons. i've written before that the privatization
thing is actually a red herring. 90%
of prisoners are held in government run prisons, not private ones. but
learned the other day that 16% of state (where the vast majoirty of
prisoners are kept) prisoners are there because of drug crimes. 5% of that
16% are non-violent and low level drug crimes. in other words, less than
1% of the state prisoners are there because of non-violent minor drug crimes.
this is in direct contradiction to the dominant narrative that it's a bunch
of petty drug offenses that are filling up the prisons. so much of being
on the right or left comes down to what you decide to play up or concentrate
on. so, when it comes to criminal justice, the average liberal who listens
exclusively to NPR and reads the NY times will say that the war on drugs
is awful and that privatized prisons need to go away. they'll say this
is what's causing a lot of the over-crowding...along with systemic racism
and bad education and maybe one other thing. a typical conservative will
choose to focus on personal choices, lack of two parent households, and
maybe the decline of the role of the church or a couple other things. of
all those things mentioned, a few of them are pretty squishy and tough
to nail down numbers-wise and a couple of them aren't as tough to look
at. privatized prisons do have an incentive to get more prisoners so you'll
see things like prison officer's unions lobbying for tougher laws. and
you can look at third strike policies and drug offenses leading some people
to prison. but as noted above, these are fairly small issues in the context
of a society that really puts far too many people behind bars. in other
words, i'd argue that if you actually care about cj reform you'd be better
moving past the drug crime and privatization narratives.
started watching people
vs. oj simpson. production and acting issues aside it brings up the whole
time and case nicely in a long format. it was a pretty great time to grow
up in la because in a 10 year span you had NWA, the riots, OJ, RATM, and
just a general sense of change, unrest, etc. interesting times. the story
brings up a lot of social issues like race and problems with the criminal
justice system and the LAPD and gender and the media 24hr news cycle.
according to at least one
the total compensation going to employees has been consistent from 1970
to today. this flies in the face of the typical narrative that wages have
stagnated. i guess the issue there is that one is comparing wages and the
other is comparing total compensation. it seems the latter is a better
measure for seeing how workers are being treated.
there was a podcast that
looked at the different things you could tell about people/society based
upon all this search engine data that was gathered. one thing they found
is that racist searches ("obama nigger" for example) spiked after his inauguration.
they also found that it was regional, but not a north/south divide as you'd
expect. it was actually a west/east divide with the east searching for
those terms at a higher rate than the west.
there's this segment at
the end of an otherwise average (at least when i first watched it) jason
statham movie that has always stuck with me. it's all about the power
of the ego. been thinking about this lately because it seems that more
and more people are viewing their lives and what happens in the world through
a very selfish lens. even ostensibly selfless movements that should be
about understanding where other people are coming from seem to be trapped
in their view of the world and unable to do what they are asking others
to do; namely to suspend their own ego and view/experience of the world
and imagine what it's like to live life like they do. these very same people
are just as guilty of viewing the world from their own point of view solely.
one interpretation of what's
happening with trump is that the deep state is seeking to get rid of him
because he's too dangerous to the status quo. i don't subscribe to this
point of view which seems mostly held by largely paranoid largely white
men who are deeply suspicious of the government. i can understand the sentiment,
though. finally they get a person in office who represents their views.
as an aside i should mention that these people largely vote republican,
but aren't bush style republicans. they distrust govt., want less of it,
hated bush for overspending and expanding the govt., thought he was just
another puppet and part of the ruling class. anyway, these people finally
get an outsider in charge and of course the media is against him, comey
is against him, leaks are happening left and right, etc. and you can understand
the point of view of those who don't trust the govt. in fact, i relate
to that more than the point of view that says the govt. is good and should
be given more power. after all, what has our govt. done when given power?
gulf of tonkin, manzanar, tuskegee experiments, cia and crack connection,
failed housing projects like pruitt igoe, atomic bomb being dropped twice
(second one a few days later...just for the hell of it?), mk ultra, trumped
up reasons for invading iraq, etc. it's no stretch to believe that a government
capable of that is capable of taking out JFK by force or trump by scandal.
i don't buy it, but i wouldn't rule it out.
the tom clancy-esque interpretation
of that is that maybe there is a deep state that is bigger than the presidency
and congress and that it checks the visible govt. so maybe that's a good
thing and not a sinister, deeply troubling thing.
the comey firing is clearly
problematic. trump appears to think that the president is more like a king
who can do whatever he wants and that the other branches and checks/balances
are just pesky obstacles. part of the reason i think a president moderates
once he takes power is because he quickly realizes that reality won't allow
him to do what he campaigned for. this is all by design and i think it's
one of the best things about our system. of course this deliberate form
of governing is a double edged sword that can be infuriating when you'd
like to get healthcare reformed asap. but it's the thing that separates
us from some other forms of govt. that are more prone to fascist takeovers.
not saying we're immune to it, but when people said that trump was hitler
or mussolini i have a couple reactions, even now: show me where he's been
as extreme as calling for mass genocide or anything on the scale of hitler.
he just hasn't, so maybe he's more like mussolini. but even then trump
can only hope to be like mussolini because he exists in a much more stable
governmental system. it takes a lot more to unpack our system than it did
for hitler after the reichstag fire, for example.
what things are considered
rights these days? i feel like it used to be pretty simple: life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness. but i think every generation adds something
to the list of rights. right to be called your preferred gender, right
to healthcare, right to privacy, and a bunch that the UN has added more
recently: right to own property, right to free education, right to internet
access... some of these i agree with as being basic human rights. others,
not so much. i think that with rights come responsibilities and that always
seems to get short shrift. if you have the right to own property then perhaps
you have the responsibility to maintain it as well. a lot of the more recent
additions seem to be about getting stuff for free. and when you're talking
about free education and free healthcare it sounds great. but the truth
of life is that nothing is free, so what does that really mean? it means
that someone has to pay someone else to give you the things that are now
your rights. so, the government has gone from ensuring a legal and political
framework to ensure freedom from persecution and freedom of movement, to
a mechanism for providing you with services.
there was a woman on the
tell me something i don't know podcast who plays the saw (just a regular
wood saw) for a living. she said that in NYC you can't play a saw on the
street because they consider it a weapon. i just have to wonder what the
point is of these petty crime laws. another NYC law comes to mind which
ended up leading to the death of eric garner. i can't help but think that
there are too many laws.
obama got in trouble for
not having a cohesive foreign policy doctrine. i think you can pretty much
say the same about trump.
zoe's birthday coming round
the bend. she's such a big kid now.
i wish i had the energy
to write about it more, but suffice it to say that our criminal justice
system is seriously fucked up and badly in need of reform. i'm all for
locking up the bad guys, but young kids making dumb mistakes having the
book thrown at them is retarded. the gender gap is crazy. the race and
socio-economic gaps are crazy. the punishment over reform or rehabilitation
issue is real and bad news for all involved. the solitary confinement issue
is crazy. the fact that something like 90% of defendants plead guilty almost
immediately is crazy. there's just so much wrong with it. like several
of our government institutions i think it pretty much just needs to be
blown up and redone.
there seems to a lack of
center right media right now. WSJ, national review...not much out there
that's intellectually honest and right of center. instead you get ayn rand,
conspiracy theories, hysteria, etc. stuff like wnd.com, alex jones, fox
news, breitbart, etc. it's really unfortunate because i think the democrats
are pretty awful and being overrun by some bad policies and bad wings of
the party. it's also bad because we almost have a party vacuum in the country
when it comes to being a reasonable person. in many cases it's pretty hard
to justify voting for a republican because the party is so nuts. so what
people do instead is they go with the lesser of two evils in the democratic
party. this is an understandable compromise, but i can't help but think
that if the republicans got their house in order there could be an honest
debate about the role of government and an honest competition of ideas.
instead we have this. the
democrats only need to be on the right side of some key issues and project
themselves as the reasonable party and they dominate the intellectual class
in our society. so, they own (ideologically speaking) the media and academia
which basically mutes much decent debate coming from the right. instead,
in intellectual circles, we get a pretty massive circle jerk and discussion
on which of the leftist ideas is best suited to solve our problems. anything
right of center is quickly derided and rejected out of hand in the mainstream.
this isn't to say that there aren't decent left-leaning thought centers
like the atlantic or the economist. there are definitely fair intellectuals
on the left, but they outnumber the center right academics and media outlets
basically i wish the republican
party were a lot better because i think it would force the democrats to
get better. the republicans have no moral high ground to call the democrats
to task when the democrats do something wrong. republicans can't really
say shit to the democrats because everyone will (rightly) point out how
fucked up the republicans are and that argument works for a lot of people.
of course it shouldn't. if the democrats fuck up it shouldn't matter if
hitler comes back to life to point out how they fucked up, so long as he's
right about his indictment of the party/person in question.
dropping out of the paris
accord was no surprise. not a lot of political blowback that trump or the
republicans are going to get so it makes sense. plus, there's plenty about
the accord that isn't all that great. it puts a lot of the onus on developed
nations while more polluting countries like india and china doesn't have
to reduce co2 until 2030, russia gets to pollute 40% more, developed nations
pay undeveloped nations to develop their renewable infrastructure, and
there's little to no accountability. so, i think most people would agree
that it's not some paragon of climate change action. i think the best that
can be said for it is that it creates a framework to build off of in the
future and the u.s. dropping out kinda hurts that. but honestly i think
this issue is an example of what i'm talking about above. if you look at
what the paris accord does and doesn't do then you realize it's extremely
mushy. there aren't any actual rules or accountability. there's a wealth
transfer to help the developing countries get greener. but it's a pretty
weak agreement. as npr put it "The Paris Accord defines shared goals: most
significantly, a global goal of allowing the world to warm by less than
2 degrees Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Each country also sets
voluntary targets for reducing its carbon emissions. But the agreement
leaves it up to each nation how exactly to meet that goal. So abiding by
the Paris Accord isn't a matter of following specific rules or regulations
just about contributing, in one way or another, to substantial reductions
in greenhouse gas emissions."
as i mentioned before,
though, the federal government is growing less and less relevant all the
time. soon after trump dropped out of the paris accord 200+ mayors, 12
states, corporations (like apple, google, target, etc.), and 170+ university
presidents decided they would pledge their support to it. so, as the founders
intended, the states and local governments are doing that which the federal
government can't or won't. then again, pledging to do something without
any infrastructure for accountability is pretty easy to do and low hanging
fruit for these politicians. they say "look at me, mayor of SF or LA, I'm
really interested in the environment and Trump sucks so I'm going to uphold
the Paris accord pledge (but don't ask me what that means because it's
an empty promise with no mechanism for determining if we've done what I've
another example of the
federal government being phased out is nasa and space x.
why is it legal for car
insurance companies to charge higher rates to teenage boys? neither of
those attributes is something they can change about themselves. well, i
guess these days you can change your gender and maybe that would be a smart
economic strategy for avoiding the increased rate, but i won't get into
that. the answer is that teen boys are more likely to get in trouble with
reckless driving, DUIs, etc. so, we tolerate this and i've actually never
heard a single person ever remark that this is a fucked up practice or
sexist or anything. but if you apply the same logic to a variety of other
scenarios then you can begin to see that either it's a problematic rationale
or we're unfairly applying this fine rationale to one group in this example.
i remember when they made it illegal in CA to charge women more for a haircut.
makes total sense to outlaw this. it should be based upon length of hair
and difficulty of styling. i don't know why they have a flat rate at all,
to be honest. if you come in and you want some crazy hair style with a
lot of layering then it might take me 90 minutes to cut and style vs. a
simple bob or something which could take half that time.
what happens if we find
out that hispanic women are shitty cooks and burn down their homes when
deep frying corn tortillas at twice the rate of white families? increase
their home insurance? what if people from TN deep fry turkeys 500% more
than people from GA and that leads to 25% more house fires as a result?
increased home insurance rates for TN homeowners?
this american life had
an episode about the effects of testosterone on behavior and one of the
things they found is that it leads to increased risk taking. maybe the
car insurance companies are on the right track, but they should base it
on T levels. mandatory testosterone level testing before getting life insurance,
car insurance, etc. those with high T levels pay more because science has
proven a link to high T levels and risky behavior. social science has further
correlated high T levels (as presented in men) with higher risk of totaling
your car. if evenly applied all this reasoning leads to a lot of difficult
scenarios that i don't think people are really interested in exploring
in this political environment.
isolationism is just another
way of saying non-intervention. not sure why political scientists settled
on isolationism, but i think non interventionism is more accurate and less
negative. isolationism isn't actually a thing and never has been. plenty
of presidents and thinkers have been against the u.s. getting involved
in foreign entanglements and been called isolationists. but did they want
to cut off trade with the world as well? did they also want to reduce immigration
to zero? most so-called "isolationists" i know today actually just want
the u.s. to stop meddling in the affairs of other countries.
obamacare was healthcare.
ahca seems to be about health insurance. the difference is this: obama
had prevention, birth control and other healthcare measures in it. fundamentally
it was about (theoretically) providing healthcare for as many americans
as possible. the republican alternative (ahca) is about health insurance
in the same way as car insurance is about driving. it's a dam against a
catastrophic event putting you into bankruptcy. for healthcare you have
look for yourself. the ahca isn't about making sure you can see a doctor
on a regular basis. to follow the car analogy...obamacare is about providing
oil changes, regular maintenance and a backstop against major repairs leading
to financial ruin. the republican alternative is about making sure that
if you get in an accident you won't be financially ruined. it limits the
scope drastically because that's their point of view. government can help
you not get ruined in case something bad happens, but it's not responsible
for making sure you go to the doctor for your checkups, etc.
while i understand that
distinction i have to say i'm more in the obama camp on this one. i think
that providing some measure of preventative care is good and useful for
society. simply providing a financial backstop (health insurance) isn't
enough in a modern economy. so, this is an example of an argument that
is basically lost in the mainstream media. the argument seems to be "republicans
are taking away health insurance from 20 million americans and the CBO
hates their plan; they're evil." the argument, fundamentally, is about
the role of government. do you think that it should provide healthcare
for as many as possible or do you think individuals should take care of
their own healthcare while the government provides a framework for insurance
that won't take advantage (lifetime limits, pre-existing conditions nonsense,
etc.) of you? of course in both those instances there are a thousand details
that could wreck the whole thing, but that's the argument at its core.
still dre is a modern classic
and an epic banger. one of the cool things about it is how lo-fi it is.
all the sounds on that song sound like they're made on a cheap ass keyboard.
it's a very simple song, but that isn't to say it's simplistic. there's
depth to it that you don't notice right way, but those flourishes i think
help keep it from getting old. of course the beat is great as well and
that's the backbone of the song, but the little flourishes and the simple
sounds help make it really great on another level for me. actually, most
of that record is kinda like that - good beats with simple sounds and few
samples. the original chronic album, conversely, is much more of a record
diving type rap album.
who was the last president
to not have calls for impeachment? trump was getting talk before he took
office, obama had people calling for impeachment, g.w. bush had plenty
of talk including kucinich bringing it before congress, clinton was impeached,
bush 1 and reagan were both called for impeachment by henry gonzalez of
TX. i think carter and ford went without calls for impeachment. nixon of
course would have been impeached. this is truly a bad sign of things that
the last president to not have calls for impeachment left office in 1980.
that means that millennials have grown up with every president having calls
for impeachment. kids who are learning to drive have grown up with their
country at war their entire lives. and people wonder why i vote third party.
why do they say if you
can make it in nyc you can make it anywhere? i think the idea is that it's
a rough and tumble city. but the truth is that it has as much of a support
structure as any place you'll see in america. technology is ubiquitous,
transportation is easy, there are dozens of support groups for whatever
it is you need or desire, social media makes it impossible not to easily
find people with common interests and insider knowledge about where to
go to get whatever it is you want. i think it would be a lot harder to
make it in some random town in oklahoma.
if anyone knows how
to download video from a members only website (with a browswer extension,
for example), let me know. i've tried a couple and they haven't worked.
this old house has all their seasons online now and i want to snag them
while i can. i will pay for this information if it works. it's powered
by jw player, if that helps.
or mentally ill? i don't know anymore. post-modernism run amok once
again, as far as i'm concerned.
latest project is a fireplace
refacing. took down the ugly stone facade today. tomorrow tile prep begins.
it looks like we may have finally found an employee. ethan worked for me
last spring for a month or so but had to go work for a summer camp and
then got injured at that job so he got another job and couldn't help anymore.
but he hates that job and it looks like we'll get him back sometime this
summer. i'm hoping it works out the way i envision it...with him working
with me for a while to learn the trade and then taking on his own projects
so he can pay for himself. i'm hoping that a year from now he'll be self-sufficient
to the point that i can just tell him what the (small) job is and he can
get the materials and handle it himself. could really use the help. really
stressed out lately with the amount of work i need to do for people. backed
up projects in the pipeline all over the place and i'm still turning away
work basically every day. the shitty thing is that this last round of taxes
pretty much wiped us out so all this work seems to just tread water. i
guess that's what happens when you live in expensive city and have kids.
another example of the
small free market taking care of things that that larger institutions used
to take care of is the increase in podcasts and youtube channels that are
getting funding through patreon pledges. some of these channels are doing
what we used to expect from mainstream media outlets...sources that have
been failing us lately, i would argue. in the case of podcasts, there are
examples of shows that are looking into cold cases and getting things investigated
where the police failed to do their job. tara
grinstead's murder is one example of a cold case that was essentially
dropped for the last 12 years and suddenly got some arrests because a popular
podcast (funded by interested parties in the public) got the ball rolling
again and dug into the case some more.
this kind of thing (individuals
coming together to fund something they care about outside of the government)
is something that hardcore libertarians have claimed would happen organically
to fund even basic things like police and roads. i never believed it before,
but there's some truth to it after all. of course the downside is that
the poor can't afford to buy the same sort of justice. then again, roads
and policing in poor neighborhoods is almost a joke with the government
running it so...
antifa and black bloc have
been making waves around here lately. they don't seem to be getting much
mainstream press which is odd because usually the mainstream is looking
for controversy and sensational things to cover. maybe it's too regional
and they don't have a wide following? hopefully that's the case, but it
looks a lot more like the mainstream media ignoring a story because it
doesn't fit the narrative their reporters like.
depending where you look,
it does seem to be acceptable these days to be violent so long as you're
fighting a perceived oppressor. so, we're getting a lot of "punch a nazi"
type crap these days. so-called revolutionaries are saying things like
"by any means necessary" again, now that trump is in power. mother jones
had an article about "anti-racists" who are actually just against white
supremacy, as if racism were only a white phenomenon. they also covered
the recent protest at the MLK park in berkeley. i saw several of the videos
and there was plenty of dumb shit from both sides. the antifa folks were
tossing m-80s at the trump supporters and the trump supporters were more
than willing to shove and hit people. basically, it looked like a bunch
of idiots looking to fight because they think their politics matter. neither
group seemed to understand that they're just making the whole thing a sick
speaking of this stuff...was
at someone's house yesterday and saw this on the wall...a bit difficult
to see unless you zoom in, but it's kind of clever because anything a white
guy says about it just feeds the claim that the white male ego is "fragile"
and should be "handled with care." so i guess i won't say much about it,
lest i prove the artist right. it calls for the dismemberment of white
men or white male egos or something, can't quite figure it out. anyway,
that's the kind of stuff that is perfectly acceptable in our society, at
least as far as i can tell from the deafening silence this kind of stuff
gets in well-heeled circles.
the syria bombing is an
interesting development. we've all seen the awful pictures of syrian refugees
and citizens who are getting the short end of the stick in life the last
couple years. normally i'm against us sticking our noses in the business
of others, but i didn't mind this one, to be honest. i don't think we should
do any more of this, but to smack assad down a bit doesn't seem such a
bad thing to me. it also cuts against the trump in putin's pocket narrative
so that's interesting.
hopefully the international
community steps up and decides to do something about this so at least the
innocent people don't continue to get shafted. would be nice if trump let
in more refugees...that would have as big an impact as taking out some
of syria's air force, but i don't see that happening. obama barely did
it, so if trump did it, or increased it, then we'd have to rethink our
view of trump and/or obama. not likely.
i do see trump moderating
lately in some ways. on china he has come back down to earth in a pretty
major way. he said he was going to label them a currency manipulator on
day one, he hasn't done that. he said he was against the import/export
bank and he hasn't done anything about that. in general, it looks as though
he's seen the error of his ways on china. this is something he's likely
to understand better than other things since he's a businessman and probably
gets how these things will affect the economy.
the republicans went nuclear
in the senate and expanded the nuclear option that harry reid had already
implemented to include supreme court justices only requiring a majority
vote. frankly, this is how it probably should be. i was pretty depressed
about this latest move at first, but i think there could be a good silver
lining. first, i should say that an notion that this is a republican only
move or that they're the worst because of this latest incarnation is pretty
silly. the democrats did it before (though it didn't include cabinet picks
or justices) so it's blatant hypocrisy to cry foul now. but the larger
picture is that this could be good because it may allow the senate to have
more actual votes. so, instead of being able to hide behind a filibuster,
the parties have to actually vote on close issues and, you know, maybe
actually govern. it could give the voters some real votes to think about
when going to the ballot box which would mean accountability for actually
taking a vote could be a real thing once again.
i think we're in a tech
bubble. a see a lot of companies with very high valuations that don't make
much/any money and are funded almost entirely by VC firms. once the VCs
figure out that these companies don't have a real path toward real profitability
they'll stop the gravy train and a lot of people are going to lose their
jobs. which means a lot of people locally are going to lose their homes.
which could be bad for me.
i'm not a libertarian,
but i've been leaning more in that direction lately. part of the reason
is that i see a real lack of ability on the part of the federal government
to actually govern or effectively address issues. instead, i see local
governments and, especially, companies taking on these tasks. with social
media being what it is, i see a lot more accountability in companies than
i have in the past. big companies seem to increasingly have a social, environmental,
political stance and are willing to do things in these realms that i wouldn't
have seen them doing 15 years ago. lyft giving $1million to the ACLU is
just one example. it seems like these companies aren't as afraid to put
their necks out as they once were. i'm constantly hearing stories about
big companies like google doing things in the energy sector, for example.
things that once seemed to be more reserved for government research or
funding is now getting done more and more by the private sector. one argument
i always had against libertarianism is that at least government is accountable
to the voters. but, again, because of social media, it seems like that's
not necessarily true anymore. united is probably going to take a beating
after their recent fiasco, for example.
story about punctuation in a law causing trouble. personally, i'm of
the mind that says punctuation matters, but in today's post-modern world...
don't think i ever talked
about the "muslim ban." this is a good example of successful branding for
the sake of politics. first, let's agree that the ban on travel wasn't
rolled out well, was ill-conceived, and is highly unlikely to actually
save any american lives. that being said, can we also agree that it's not
a muslim ban? it's a ban on travel from countries identified by the obama
administration as being problematic which are muslim majority. the ban
2.0 doesn't include iraq and the ban 1.0 never included saudi arabia. so,
it doesn't even include the most problematic country in the region, so
it's stupid for that reason alone. but why do i stop short of calling it
a muslim ban where others have gone out of their way to do so? because
i'm against the war on common sense, rationality and honesty. just look
at a list of the countries that have the highest muslim populations (1-10
in descending order): Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria,
Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco. now here's the list of the six countries
that were on the travel ban 2.0: Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and
Libya. so, Iran is the only country on both lists. you can't even make
the claim that the travel ban is for the countries that are the most muslim
by percent of population. if that were the case then you'd expect afghanistan,
algeria, azerbaijan, comoros, djibouti, gambia, kosovo, etc. to be on the
list. all of those are 95%+ muslim. so, the travel ban is stupid and ineffective
for all sorts of reasons, but it's not a muslim ban and you're kind of
an asshole if you say it is. NPR calls it a "travel ban on six majority
muslim countries" which is entirely accurate and respectable. be respectable.
the raiders are officially
moving to las vegas which is a bummer. since harbaugh came to town and
unseated alex smith i had a tough time rooting for the niners. even when
kaepernick was doing well for them, my heart just wasn't in it because
i felt so bad for alex smith and have never had much respect for harbaugh.
smith saw that team through some dark times and he got dinged one time
and lost his starting job to a very subpar qb in my opinion. so, i had
become something of a raiders fan. now they're leaving and it sucks.
a NIH panel got together
and issued guidelines for avoiding peanut allergies: expose infants to
peanuts. what a fucking shocker. this has to be the biggest no brainer
in allergy science. we shelter kids so fucking much. we're so afraid of
germs and just about everything else these days that it's amazing we don't
all die from going outside. our kids were munching on discarded peanuts
under the couch as soon as they were able to crawl. we pretty much let
them put whatever they found in their mouths. that's how kids experience
the world at that age and you've gotta think that there's a good evolutionary
reason behind such a strong oral stage in infancy. the fact that it took
expert asshats this long to figure it out just chaps my hide.
a while back i heard christine
hassler on the JRE podcast and it was a great conversation. but one thing
that really stuck out because it's something i think about a lot, is that
she was having all sorts of drama and tough times in life and finally realized
that there was a common denominator to all the bad stuff that seemed to
be happening to her - it was her. if things around you keep getting
fucked up maybe it's time to look in the mirror, in other words. it's not
an accident that the first time i put together a sink drain it seems to
leak everytime. it's not that i'm unlucky. it's not that plumbing is stupid.
it's that i'm not especially great at working with sink drains. after fucking
up on about a million sink drains i figured out that i'm to blame. so,
i try to change my approach, i expect things to go badly so i'm either
right or pleasantly surprised, and i don't give up until i get it working
right. what i try not do is piss and moan about how unlucky i am or whatever.
in general, this is how i approach things in life. "what can i do to change
things?" "what role did i play in how things are?" contrast this with the
democrat party the last two times they lost the presidency: "ralph nader
stole votes (false), voter rolls were purged in florida (yup), katherine
harris is in the pocket of the bushes (probably(, the russians hacked the
election (false), the electoral college is crap (mostly true), comey tipped
the balance of the election (possibly), etc." that latter approach seems
like a surefire recipe for unhappy times.
"in order to get something
you never had, you have to do something you've never done."
finally finished the large
project i was working on with the kitchen/bathroom. my inclination is always
to do things quickly. i like it, the customers like it. the problem with
going fast is it usually means hiring help which means less money in my
pocket. in this case i ended up doing all the tiling myself. tub surround,
floor, and kitchen backsplash. tiling is hard work all around. if it's
on the floor then you're on your knees a lot. if it's not then it's still
hard because of layout and it's just generally difficult to get everything
looking right. flush, square, true, parallel, plumb and level. it's a challenging
trade and a good test for someone because it requires a variety of skills.
if someone is good at tiling it probably means they can learn a variety
of skills and be good at them as well.
could really use some new
music to discover. harder to find stuff when you don't listen to the radio,
talk to people, or have time to pay attention to this stuff. been looking
for a podcast that goes over new stuff, but haven't found a good one yet.
speaking of podcasts...down
to about 20 episodes after listening to a ton the last week. meryl and
i took tuesday off for a road trip and got through a bunch that way. i've
also been working 6 days a week lately so that means more podcasts under
the belt. one that i started a while back and only just came back to is
"up and vanished" which is a true crime cold case type podcast. these are
a lot more popular since serial, but serial actually isn't the best of
them. anyway, that's been the one i've been binging on lately.
s-town was overhyped and
not especially worth the time. nice little biopic, but nothing was "solved"
or uncovered and that's what i really like from those types of stories.
just a story about a somewhat interesting guy who inhaled too much mercury.
itunes is the worst program
accused is one of the best
of the cold case style podcasts i've heard.
radiolab has been jumping
the shark lately.
planet money remains one
of my favorites.
538 is great and reliable
for reasonable coverage. they do an excellent job of not getting tied up
in the b.s.
sword and scale is my weekly
dose of r/morbidreality.
waking up with sam harris
is dry and dense, but good. philosophize this is similar. have to be in
the right mood.
can't wait for uncertain
hour and revisionist history to come out with new seasons. they're both
joe rogan experience is
good and offers a lot of different content. definitely a don't judge a
book by its cover type show.
freakonomics remains a
glenn loury is a new discovery.
production is awful, but good point of view.
dan carlin doesn't give
a lot of new stuff, but he's good and thoughtful and fair.
99pi is always interesting.
presidents are people too
is entertaining history.
pollsters is about half
good. half the time it's stupid banter and talking about dumb polls, but
the other half is getting into the weeds about how polling works and what
polls are saying.
all told, i subscribe to
about 30 podcasts, so that keeps me pretty busy.
merritt's skin is in pretty
rough condition most of the time. we think it's eczema, but the doctors
haven't been very helpful. she handles it like a champ and i'm very proud
zoe loves puzzles and is
pretty good at them. she's learned a lot of patience lately because of
them. she's also been doing gymnastics which has helped her confidence
and klutzy nature quite a bit. love those kids.
my favorite one so far:
that unc/ore game last
night was ridiculous. dorsey needed to step up and didn't. but the worst
part was with about 12 seconds left ore had to foul unc to get the ball
back. unc had two free throws and bricked them both, but got the offensive
rebound so ore had to foul again with only about 6 seconds left. unc bricked
both of those and ore still couldn't get a rebound and the clock expired.
to be given so many opportunities and to blow it on a simple box out was
infuriating. now it's gonzaga vs. unc. tough to know who to root for, but
probably going for david over goliath on this one.
one of the nice things
about working at a single jobsite all day and all week is that i don't
have to move my tools around all the time. but the best part is that i
get to listen to my podcasts all day. i've 90+ in the queue so i'll need
several 8 hour days to get through them all.
been working some weekend
days to get this kitchen/bath remodel finished. the bathroom is a big job.
the kitchen is pretty much just a facelift.
been doing the allergy
shot thing for several months now. allergies have started kicking in now
which is a little later than last year, but i can't say there's been much
improvement overall. blah. i hope it doesn't get much worse. it's not bad
right now, just annoying. if it stays there then this has been a success.
itunes continues to
be probably the worst program in the history of computing.
i'd like people to start
pronouncing my name, which is spelled "chris" as "extra special." to be
clear, i'm not changing my name to "extra special." my name is still "chris,"
but it should be pronounced as "extra special." this is the new identity
i'd like to take on so i think you need to respect that.
i thought about the day
without women and the day without immigrants and it reminded me of another
strike...the day the taxi drivers decided not to do their job because of
uber and lyft. how about if you want to get more business you improve your
business? show up on time, work on customer service, etc. strange
concept, i know.
march madness is here and
that's always a fun time. ucla disappointed. ucd made it to the tourney
for the first time ever. they won the d2 national championship my freshman
year and now they're in the tourney at d1. i remember playing basketball
a bit and playing with guys who played with (and lost to) guys on the basketball
team. they lost to the d2 guys, i lost to them, and i was better than half
the guys on the cross country team. it's amazing what a jump there is from
level to level. i was above average amongst runners, below average in a
pickup game on a good court, below that relative to the guys who could
even play with d2 players, who could barely keep up with the average guy
on a tourney bound d1 team, who get blown out by 40+ points against kansas,
which has maybe 2 guys who will make it to the nba, and maybe one of them
makes the all star team, but wouldn't ever be considered in the same conversation
as dwayne wade who isn't in the same conversation as jordan or bill russell.
so, there's like 10 serious jumps in ability before you go from the average
baller on the street to being an all-time great. that's something we often
forget...the average nba player could mop the floor with the best ymca
player you've ever seen.
i see mormons in the worst
neighborhoods of oakland often enough to take note. say what you will about
them, but at least mormons are trying. they're on the front lines in the
most impoverished areas of the country/world on a daily basis. these pale
as fuck kids go knock on the doors of random black/brown people who most
of us don't talk to. again, say what you will about mormons and christians...at
least they're out there on the front lines trying to make a difference.
and it's not because of a lack of choice. it's not that they're poor and
stuck in those neighborhoods and they happen to help those around them
or they're just nice people. they have choices and they choose to seek
out those who need help. they're better than i am, even if i don't think
jesus is necessarily the answer.
because of the recent immigration
talk i've heard several people talk about wanting no borders or wanting
to allow anyone into the country. if that's what you want then fine, but
i would hope people would at least think about whether that's what they
really want or not. do you really want people to come into the country
without knowing anything about them? do you want them to be eligible for
government assistance regardless of where they came from, how much they
paid into the system, etc.? i suspect that the answer could be yes for
some people. when asked how we should pay for it they might say something
about cutting funding to the military (16% of the total budget). the military
is a bloated jobs program, i agree. it takes a lot of lumps because we
spend too much on it, but slashing its funding isn't a panacea.
at some point we need to
have a serious conversation about what the federal government should be
doing and where our money should go. do we want to run a $500 billion deficit
every year? are we comfortable being $18 trillion in debt? are we comfortable
spending more than half our money on social security and medicare? is that
what half of the federal government should be about? what do we want the
federal government to be and how much should it cost? the federal government
at its best is about tackling the large things that the states or private
sector can't (stimulus during economic downturns, large infrastructure
like panama canal, interstate highway, hoover dam, national parks) or won't
(long term scientific projects like nasa or funding research in things
like fusion) address. the problem is that everyone has their hand out for
money and congress doesn't know how to say "no" anymore.
last couple weeks we've
had a day without women and day without immigrants. i didn't notice, which
is contrary to the whole point. the method of going on strike seems very
counterproductive. but maybe that's because i'm someone who values getting
shit done and so when people walk out it just makes me reflexively dislike
whatever it is that is getting them out of work while i'm still working.
i wonder what a customer
would do if i called them and earnestly told them the $150 i was going
to charge them that day to install a toilet could be sent to my address,
but sorry i won't be coming in today because i'm striking in solidarity
with my immigrant friends or my wife and daughters or something. i somehow
suspect that even my socialist customers would balk at that.
it's funny because the
SJW crowd is keen to point out privilege, but then these same people will
support a strike like this...which points out the privilege they enjoy...being
able to skip work without consequences....a privilege i don't enjoy.
got our taxes all done
this month. that was depressing. there's definitely a difference between
writing your check quarterly and having your deductions come automatically
with a small check (or, more likely, refund) at the end of the year. 4
times a year i'm reminded how much i pay into the system and am forced
to think about the value i receive from writing those checks. there are
a lot of people who pay a lot more in taxes than we do, but we pay in taxes
what i used to make in a year at a time when i thought i was making a lot
there were actually two
years after i left tower when i made, as far as the government is concerned,
less than $7k/year. i got some money under the table from my grandma and
lived with her to get the book business slimmed down, i worked as a painter
under the table, i traveled around the country for a few months, lived
in austin where the cost of living is very cheap, worked for the depart
of the interior for $60/week (plus a free room), and generally didn't have
many financial burdens. now, on the other hand, we're putting $114k a year
into: taxes (#1 expense), mortgage (#2), childcare (#3), and healthcare
(#4). so, $114k a year and that doesn't address food, cars, business expenses,
clothing, utilities, etc. it's crazy how expensive it is to live once you
buy into a certain lifestyle of having kids and a house. our healthcare
is the lowest price option. our childcare is only 3 days a week and one
of the cheapest we found. our mortgage is probably in the lower half of
the bay area considering we put a lot down and our house is within 10%
of the median price for the bay area.
fun thing is that now i'm
going to (hopefully) bring on a new employee. found a guy through zip recruiter
(which advertises on a couple podcasts i listen to) and he seems good so
far. in order to retain him, i'd like to guarantee him a full-time position.
so, that would be another $50k/year on my ledger plus the expenses associated
with hiring a person legitimately. $10-15k/year for worker's comp and payroll
taxes that i have to match. $65k/year to hire someone in the hopes that
they can make at least that much for my business. if it works out then
he could potentially make me $15k/year if he's decent, $35k/year if he's
great. if it doesn't work then i have to let him go or go to part time
and i feel like an asshole. if he's great then he'll probably be making
$60k/year. my job is to get him as much work as i can and to put him in
a position to succeed. that's a weird shift to make and one i've read a
lot about from other tradesmen. a lot of them can't put down the hammer
and it kills the growth of their business. but, if you can figure out how
to realize that your new job is facilitating and lining up work for those
you've trained...then you can be successful.
finally got the office
in useable condition. was waiting on the desk because of the aforementioned
epoxy issue. didn't come out perfect even the second time, even after doing
a second seal coat as the manufacturer recommended. porous wood is probably
part of the issue, but the edges are ripply as well so i'm overall not
super impressed by the product. oh well.
a lot has happened since
i was regularly updating here. i think january was the first month since
1998 that i went a whole month without an update. pretty upset that i broke
that streak. but kids.
started phasing in more
work in SF for meryl's brother this week. goal is to work for him about
4 days a week, but i don't think that'll happen at first because there
will be a lot of planning and not as much actual working getting done.
in the meantime, i've been basically turning away a couple jobs every day.
i've been trying to hire someone and so far it hasn't really worked out.
lots of deadbeats so far. it's been my experience that there are a lot
of people who say they want a job, but don't really want to work. they
want money and to be able to say they have a job or are looking for work,
but when it comes to actually acquiring the job and doing the work...not
so much. i've always hated looking for work so part of me understands this.
on the other hand, as a handyman, i'm sorta applying for a new job everytime
i get an email request from someone. in a way i have the job already most
of the time, in another way i have to do the basic things that are required
in any job interview: prove that i'm not crazy, outline what what i can
do and what my salary requirements are. sometimes i'll have a new "boss"
5 times a day. yet in another sense i'm my own boss because i can tell
any of them to go away if i want.
anyway, whatever you want
to call it, it's suited me pretty well so far. this new thing will be a
bit different in a lot of ways, but i feel like it's the direction i want/need
to go in the long run so it should be good. i'm not cutting off any ties
so i'll still be able to work for myself 1-2 times a week and keep some
active customers. my eggs won't all be in one basket and if i ever find
someone who can do the work i do, i'll have them doing what i usually do
and make some money off giving them the leads and the guidance.
being in SF is a daily
adventure. i pretty much hate that city and the people who live there.
parking is a total pain in the ass. saw an old lady plow into a work truck
the other day while backing into a spot. she had plenty of space, she was
just incapable of driving. then she pulls forward and parks partly in someone's
driveway, locks the door and walks away. she looked at the wrecked bumper
and didn't even hesitate. what a bitch. another day i parked about 18"
in the red, but no part of my truck was in the curb cut for someone's driveway
and got a note that said they would have me ticketed if i didn't move.
this list of this kind of shit is endless and literally almost daily. i
work all over oakland and am in my truck quite a bit and interacting with
tenants and homeowners all the time. i can say without reservation that
the people in oakland are cut from a very different cloth than the people
in SF or berkeley. the world revolves around people in berkeley and SF.
the idea of "live and let live" might enter their politics, but not their
actual lives. it's actually pretty amazing in its consistency.
mississippi state flag
case is going to SCOTUS i guess. i think the claim is that the confederate
flag has caused emotional pain for the plaintiff. this is one of those
cases where you might sympathize with the sentiment (the racist flag probably
shouldn't be hoisted above the capitol daily), but the complaint and the
function of the federal government don't really come together to do anything
about it. that is, the idea that you've undergone emotional pain because
of a flag is a bit much. and the function of the federal government isn't
to tell the states that their flag is kinda racist. unfortunately, i think
there are a lot of people who want the government way more involved in
daily life so there are going to be a lot of upset people if that case
doesn't work out the way they want.
maybe i'm just more immune
to this kind of crap than most, but i literally can't imagine a flag that
would offend me so much that i'd suffer mental anguish and want to take
the case to the supreme court. leave it up to the citizens of the state.
if they decide to keep it again (last time they voted on it they decided
to keep the flag 2:1) then it's just another example of bad judgment from
found the above image on
a late stage capitalism site. i think the problem is that a lot of people
don't understand or think about the real economy or how value is created
or what markets are about. they don't understand them and they get frustrated.
or they don't see it working for them and they get jealous. vern and i
did this with jon by calling him the bourgeoisie all the time on the job
site (he was our boss while we had the summer painting business). but the
truth is that the total value "you" produce, isn't. remember what Obama
said "you didn't build that," well it goes both ways. you didn't develop
the customer base, the infrastructure, the systems and efficiencies, you
didn't put up the initial capital or risk...your labor produces value because
of those around you, before you, and above you. so, the cute image is just
pandering b.s. from someone who hasn't thought about how an economy actually
the age divide between
trump/hillary voters is actually very similar to the gender divide. i wonder
why no one really talks about that? laziness. nate silver put up a graphic
that got widely picked up about how the election would look if only wo/men
voted and that got a lot of traction because we're in the mode of talking
about gender. men voted 53/41 trump/hillary. 65+ voted 53/45 trump/hillary.
45-64 voted 53/44 trump/hillary. women voted 42/54 trump/hillary. but because
the candidates were male/female, the narrative was all about men vs. women.
then things got even more gendered when hillary brought up the miss america
thing and then grab them by the pussy tape got released. so, a narrative
is created and strengthened while a parallel truth is hardly explored at
all. this is almost completely the fault of the media which lacks imagination,
nuance and intelligence. in an alternate world the narrative could have
been all about the old people voting in a clown, while the young people
were on the right side of history. the media could have talked about the
$18T in debt racked up by the 44+ crowd. their entitlements and debt service
fees now account for about 55% of the total budget and here they are voting
in an authoritarian. that doesn't make very good tv, though.
just a friendly reminder
that wilbon and kornheiser are close friends with maury povich.
finally got the desk up
and running. the epoxy turned out better, but not perfect, the second time
around. stripping it and sanding it all down was a major pain in the ass.
pg&e bill has been
$900+ for the last two months combined. totally ridiculous. part of that
is because of the epoxy project which required one room in the house be
at 75 degrees for 3 days (twice), but the rest of it....?
hiring someone has been
quite difficult. finding anyone with any skills and the ability to follow
through has been near impossible so far. trying out a guy tomorrow, but
he already has a part time job so i don't know if it'll work out how i
want. the labor shortage in the trades is a blessing and a curse.
going to be getting away
from working for myself, we'll see how it goes. i'll be managing projects
for meryl's brother adam. he invests in properties in SF that he flips
so it'll be my job to run the flips. i'll be doing some of the work, dealing
the city and managing the trades. parts of that are more exciting than
others. it being in SF is probably the biggest downer. i pretty much hate
that city and the fact that it's an hour commute really sucks. but it's
also where i want to end up in my career (managing projects, not being
in SF), so it's a move in the right direction career-wise. if i can get
some help from a semi-skilled person (i'm willing to train) who can manage
doing the little jobs that i've been doing the last few years myself, then
that would be ideal. they would do those little things (i have a steady
supply of that work) and i would earn a spread on their work. if that slowed
down or i needed help on a project in SF, then i would bring them in on
lots to write about, no
office is undergoing a
renovation, hence the lack of updates.
working on getting
the desktop completed, but ran into an issue with the bar top epoxy so
that's a pain in the ass. strip it all and redo. blah.
"nada nada nada, not
a damn thing."