12/17/18 (19:30)
  • routine lately has been to work 730-430. hang out with kids. hang out with meryl. sleep. haven't done much in the way of webpage updating or watching movies. haven't been working in sf as much lately so i haven't been working as much (shorter commute). don't miss the commute.
  • the way it works when you're self-employed is that you pay quarterly whatever your estimated taxes will be. at the end of the year you figure out if your estimate was high or low and write a check, or get a check, for the difference. since we've been doing better than the previous year the last few years, that means we've always written a check. the few months from december to march usually brings with it: final payment of the year to state and federal government, first payment of the new year to state and federal government, LLC fees, tax preparation fees for the business and us as individuals, and underpayment taxes for both state and federal. this means the first quarter of the year is either really difficult or at the very least (if we've saved well) very annoying. we're good at saving now that we know the routine, but it doesn't make it any better to write so many big checks.
  • it seems a big issue going around right now is election rigging. voter fraud. election fraud. call it what you will. i'm not sure how much either dems or reps actually care about it, though. the republicans claim to care about it and have actually tried doing something about it. they purge voter rolls and call for ID laws, etc. it's pretty obvious to me that they aren't doing this as much to protect the process as they are doing it to secure their place of power. but, hey, at least they're acting on something they claim to care about.
  • then there's the democrats, who have long claimed that voter fraud isn't a real thing, but election fraud is. they point to what the republicans are doing as proof. they complain about diebold under Bush and voter purges and all the rest. but, then, when they have power they don't actually seem to make it any kind of priority. i definitely think the democrats have the moral high ground from an argumentation point of view, but they seem content to use it as a campaign issue without actually acting on it. this is very similar to how the republicans treated obamacare. it's the dog catching the car scenario. once the republicans were in power they couldn't actually get it together enough to present a cogent replacement for the thing they said for so long that they wanted to repeal and replace. they're full of shit, and i think the democrats are too.
  • anyone who cares for voter representation or a healthy democratic process would address several issues that have been around since at least bush/gore in 2000, such as: representation for DC. federal standards for the administration of elections. non-partisan election oversight. common standards ballots and ballot information packets. and anyone with any moral qualms whatsoever would be for rebalancing some of the house districts so they're more equitable.
  • of course i know a lot of that stuff is politically untenable and fraught for various reasons, but the DC and house district issues in particular are morally imperative and inaction is inexcusable. obama shot his wad on healthcare and the democrats never mentioned process related issues at all. no campaign finance, no electoral reforms, etc. i think they made the wrong moral decision, but that's subjective. i think there's a good argument that could be made that they objectively made an absolutely awful tactical and strategic move by ignoring these issues that they were supposedly so concerned about in 2000 and are again worried about now (according to their words).
  • bottom line: i don't believe any politicians until they show me they're serious. at least bernie has been fairly consistent and principled on the issues he cares about. he may not understand economics, he might now have his priorities straight, but at least he's not a constant liar.
  • my podcast addiction continues. i listen to about 200 hours of podcasts a month. one of the best of the year is Believed. it's about the larry nassar case and it represents the best of the #metoo movement. he's up there with kermit gosnell when it comes to all-time douche bags.
  • haven't followed it closely, but the yellow vest movement in france is kinda funny. they're complaining about an additional gas tax. i mean, you live in france...what do you expect? france is for taxes. it's also funny because macron campaigned on this and is following through on his promise. what did you expect? it's also a global warming issue and we all know what that means - slowing consumption of greenhouse gasses. so, again, what did you expect? france likes taxes (top 2-5 depending upon how you measure total tax burden). france hates global warming. france likes government intervention. macron said he was going to do this. why are they complaining about it now? if you don't like taxes then move to switzerland. it's not that hard if you're in the EU.
  • birth right citizenship has been getting a bit of play lately. it's interesting to note that basically the only countries with true unrestricted birth right citizenship like the US are old colonies in N and S America. and if you cross reference OECD (developed) countries with those that have unrestricted birthright citizenship you come up with: Canada, Mexico, US. all the other developed nations require that you have citizen parents in order for you to become a citizen by birth. i think it's a bit silly the way we do it, to be honest. i also think the 14th amendment repeal talk is interesting because many liberals, like me, think that the 14th amendment, as actually referenced in our law, is a net negative for our country. when you look at how it's been applied in our history, it has been more often applied to protect corporate personhood than it has been applied to give people the right to vote or preserve the rights of blacks or ex-slaves. if repealing the 14th amendment meant getting rid of corporate personhood (probably doesn't) then i'd probably be for it. i don't really understand the law on this stuff, but i'm sure they'd find a way to repeal the amendment and keep all the corporate personhood crap while screwing over the little guy. but i do find it interesting nonetheless.
  • gw bush is dead. there was much talk about how much of a gentleman he was and much contrasting that to trump. they also brought up his most infamous moments which are the "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge that he broke and the willie horton ad. i think the willie horton ad is really interesting. i've been aware of it basically since it came out and i have long been aware of the allegation that it was a racist ad and a racial dog whistle (if the accuser is being kind). i thought about it more recently, though, and i think it's bullshit to call it racist. watch the ad again. it's devastating in its effectiveness and simplicity. it hits on a long standing weakness of democrats - that they are weak on crime. how could a candidate not call to the attention of the voters the fact that a murderer was let out of jail and then raped and killed two more people while he was furloughed? can you show me another case in dukakis' tenure as governor where a white person was let out of jail and then murdered and raped a couple (or committed a similar crime)? i'm thinking you can't. i can definitely imagine a world in which gw bush makes the exact same ad if willie horton is white. i think it would be the exact same except for the picture that was shown. i think they would have shown the unflattering mugshot. they would have mentioned the murder of the boy that got him into jail in the first place. and they would have mentioned the rape and murder that he committed while out on furlough. i think the most racist part of the ad is the picture of horton looking very stereotypically black (he has an afro). perhaps it would have been less potentially racist if they found a picture of willie horton when he didn't have an afro? i don't know, i think there has to be a higher bar than the fact that it was an ad about a black guy who was a convicted criminal.
  • what decision that was made in the making of the ad made gw bush racist? or made it a racist ad? i've never had that question answered. it's always just been an assumption that since the guy was black, the ad was racist. explain it for me please.
  • everything is about race now. a cynic would say that everything was always about race, but we're just finally talking about it. god, it's depressing. i listen to a lot of podcasts and most of them are coming from the left or center and, if they have anything to do with politics or society, they talk about race and gender in just about every episode. so, naturally, it causes me to think about this stuff a lot. it's very easy to see what you want to see and to get very jaded if you think in these terms all the time.
  • i suppose the more interesting part about willie horton is that, according to him, he didn't commit either crime. in the first case, he was simply along for the ride. this reminds me of isaiah wright from Last Chance U. he, too, was just along for the ride when a murder occurred. these sorts of crimes need to be prosecuted differently as part of a larger criminal justice reform. simply being adjacent to a crime isn't the same as the actual crime. i've heard of far too many of these instances for it to be a non-issue or rare occurrence. i get the impression it happens a lot and ruins a lot of lives. don't get me wrong, i think when you hang out with losers who commit crimes, you deserve to serve some time. accessory after the fact, if proven, is also legit. but to be up for murder charges when you're in the back of the car or in the same house, is crazy and i've heard of both cases yielding decades of prison time.
  • planet money had a podcast about one of the reporters speeding through a speed trap town and getting stopped by the cops. she apparently had done it before and neglected to pay her fine so now there was a warrant out for her arrest. as a result of these two speeding tickets (one, really), she went to jail and had to get bailed out. to add insult to injury, her mugshot went online after a while because there's a company that scrapes local law enforcement files for this stuff. you can pay this company $400 (IIRC) to take that mugshot off their site so it doesn't come up when you search for her name. she did. this whole story is a bigger scandal than most of the black lives matter stuff we've been getting recently. of late the stories we've been getting from the BLM wing of the media seem to be of the chipotle manager or kansas commissioner "master race" type. these non-story stories on the fringes seem to be getting more press than a real issue like the one brought up by the planet money reporter. these little things that can snowball should really be a bigger story. another would be debtors prisons, which aren't supposed to be a thing, but basically exist because some states require that inmates pay for their time in jail. so, people come out of jail/prison in debt and then can do more time because of that debt. this is supposed to be unconstitutional and yet it's happening all the time (more). and i'll let you guess who it happens to most.
  • the chipotle manager who kicked out the black guy actually was vindicated and got her job back because eventually people realized that the guy would dine and dash all the time and so that's why she wanted him to pay first.
  • the kansas county commissioner (white guy) was interesting because he told a black woman he belonged to a master race. knowing only that causes most people to at least raise an eyebrow. these days many go much farther with much less information. what's interesting, though, is if you bother to watch the video he was actually making a dumb joke (which she chuckled at) about both he and her belonging to the master race of gap tooth people. it was a dumb joke, but it made him resign. think about that. he said to a black woman that "WE are part of the master race." and the "we" was referring to him and her. i just don't know how you construe that as racist. that said, the guy may be unstable in other ways if he's talking about a master race of gap toothed people. it's just a weird comment out of left field (as far as i can tell from the video), but i don't see how you call it racist.
  • another podcast i listen to is called The City. this one was about chicago and a dumping scheme that caused a lot of the poorer parts of the city to become de facto dumps. they interviewed one grandma who moved out of the city to the suburbs "though not by choice." they go on to explain that she moved to help with her grandkids. WTF is a choice as defined by this grandma or the podcast creator? according to the podcast she moved to the suburbs because she wanted to help raise her grandkids. personally, i think that's great. i also think it's a choice. it's a great choice. but i honestly can't understand the lazy writing and lazy minds that insert the words "though not by choice" when talking about her decision to move. i honestly don't understand what constitutes free will, choice, personal responsibility, etc. anymore. some days it seems like the vast majority of people are simply leaves in the wind floating along with no agency in their own lives. if the decision to move to support your kid as a parent and help raise your grandkids isn't a "choice," then i don't know what is.
  • one of the more hilarious responses to the 9/11 attacks was that we now are under high security even when we go to football games, etc. and, as a result, they limit you to transparent bags in some stadiums. there's no way to describe this other than as stupid. think about it logically...if you have a gun or a bomb or whatever then it's easy enough to obscure it inside your transparent bag by wrapping it in a long sleeve shirt or any number of other innocuous items. all bags are searched upon entry anyway so regardless of the bag type, all items are theoretically getting looked at. being in a transparent bag doesn't make this inspection any easier. the policy (which is widespread) has two notable (arguably) positive effects: it stimulates the economy as any mandatory purchase does. it makes some people feel slightly more safe. on the negative side it makes the makers of the policy look like idiots to people like me. it also causes people to buy more useless garbage (yet another dumbass plastic bag).
  • the newest season of serial was about criminal justice and took a day in the life approach to see what courts are like. they were happy to point out the racial disparities in sentencing (which are well known amongst right thinking liberals these days), but ignored completely the gender disparities in sentencing. so, a white guy and a black guy both murder someone. the black guy gets 30 years and the white guy gets 25 (made up numbers because it's bedtime and i don't have them in front of me). a white woman and a white man both murder someone. the white man gets 25 and the white woman gets 18. like i said, everyone knows about the fact that black guys get screwed left and right, but no one talks about the fact that men get more screwed than blacks. being a man is worse for you than being black, when it comes to sentencing and conviction rates. why is it that a show like serial or just about every mainstream article on the subject is happy and eager to point out the former disparity, but gleefully ignorant of the latter?
  • because they're sexist fucking pigs! see how it works? find a way in which society screws over your group and then attack them for it. i'm a victim! only, i'm not...a group i was born into is a victim, but i'm going to claim victim status anyway because i want to be a part of some larger struggle.
  • social studies are good at studying groups. unfortunately the world is made up of individuals so social studies only gets a very blurry picture of reality, even when it's very well done.



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    11/27/18 (21:03)

  • NY Times seems to agree with trump about CA wildfires. oddly enough, i think he has a point as well. what's lost in the discussion about this is that there are a lot of causes for fires like the Camp Fire and what tends to happen is that people with political motives adopt a cause and oversell it instead of injecting needed nuance. so, we have everyone on the left talking about global warming non-stop and people on the right picking up the trump baton of mismanagement. i tend to agree it's more about mismanagement than any other single factor. you can look at building codes/enforcement. you can look at defensible space policies. you can look at the defunding of hotshot crews. you can look at the defunding of forest management, prescribed burns, thinning, etc. those can be addressed more more readily and have a much greater impact on our fires than the issue of global warming. no amount of californians driving hybrids, installing solar panels or even committing suicide will put a dent in climate change. if you believe in climate change then you must also believe in the science that says 40 million people changing their consumption a little isn't going to make a difference. it's also not going to change the fire situation. i'm not sure why people run away from the obvious answers and towards the one that is hardest to do anything about and least likely to have an effect.

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    11/7/18 (19:43)

  • spending money on the TX senate race always appeared to me to be a fool's errand. he raised $70 million to cruz's $30 million and still lost. for some reason democrats with money thought going after a TX senate seat was smart. Republicans are much better about spending their money. this is why they gained 1,000 seats under Obama. think about that...1,000 seats lost while obama was president. that's ridiculous.
  • went to see the beastie boys on their book tour the other day. it was a good time. as i've gotten older, and i have more responsibility, i think i've lost some of the humor i used to have. looking back, i think that's part of the reason i like the beastie boys. obviously their music is really good, but also they're just so wacky sometimes and clever and willing to not take themselves seriously. of course it was sad to see them without adam yauch and i think about him often. he was a one of a kind guy.
  • i don't believe the economics of prop. 10 makes any sense. that said, i think that local municipalities should have the freedom to make bad economic decisions so i voted for it. the older i get the less i believe in paternalism. i've just seen too many examples of well-intentioned paternalism go wrong. basically i think that you can't have freedom with out the "dom." sometimes real freedom means allowing people to be dumb. if a city wants to have a bad policy then they should be allowed to do that. i believe in local control more than state or federal control (especially with matters of housing) and i believe in freedom more than the alternative, so i had to vote for prop. 10. i'm also happy it didn't pass.
  • in general i believe in more local control because i think the closer you can get to an individual deciding their own fate, the better. of course it's for this reason that i believe in certain federal standards, say, when it comes to voting rights or discrimination. for example, after devoss talked about allowing some schools to have guns there were a lot of people who scoffed at the idea. as a city dweller it might seem ridiculous, but as a rural school president who is 15-30 minutes away from police help, what is your plan for a school shooting? hang out and hope that the shooter doesn't find you? how about if you're the principal of a school in Alaska where wildlife are a legitimate threat? wouldn't it be a nice option to have a shotgun under lock and key to scare bears away from the parking lot? these are things that i wasn't aware of until i went looking (both examples are real). so, a dumb ass idea starts to make some sense. and, like prop. 10, this isn't the feds or the state government saying you MUST have a gun in your school. this is the higher authority allowing you to make that decision for yourself as a local community. i think the pros outweigh the cons in those situations.
  • remember when joe biden said that republicans were going to put y'all back in chains? isn't that race baiting and fear mongering? it would be really great if the people who claim to hold the line against the immoral and corrupt republicans would follow their own advice more assiduously.
  • i wish the duopoly could be broken. can you imagine having two bad choices on such a regular basis in any other part of your life? you get to choose a local school that rapes your kids everyday or a school that indoctrinates them to believe in scientology. those are your two choices. have fun. you get to eat fast food dog shit burgers tonight or deep fried rat. eat up. you get to wait in line for 6 hours at the DMV or you get to not have a car. tweedle dee and tweedle dum. "but chris, obviously scientology is way better than sending your kids to butt rape school everyday." yes, it is. congratulations on being an adult and making a wise decision to support scientology over the alternative.... and we wonder why half the country doesn't vote. ha ha.
  • also went to Oregon State to watch USC play. it was the penultimate game in our quest to see USC play at all the away stadiums in the PAC-12. next weekend i'll go to LA to see them play at the rose bowl. i think i've been there once, but i really don't remember. OSU is second in the pac-12 on the hick scale. Pullman is definitely number one. corvallis is about the size of davis and it has a nice feel in the surrounding area. after the game their traffic management was probably the best i've ever seen at any sporting event in my life. very organized and efficient. fans were average. they play this chainsaw sound over the loudspeakers which gets pretty grating. overall USC is now 4-6 on our trips. pretty pathetic, but we could be 5-6 if we beat UCLA. i'm hoping we can go to south bend next year to see ND, but that's definitely a game we'd need to fly to. we've driven to all the others and flying might be out of the budget. anyway, if we won those two games we'd be .500 which isn't horrible, i guess. for the record we started at Stanford, which had the worst parking, and i think that was andrew luck's senior season. matt barkley was QB. good game. the wins have been: Cal, CO, WA, and OSU.
  • finished watching Vietnam by ken burns and lynn novick. great piece of work. in school we never studied the war much. american history basically stopped at WW2. there's a lof of meat on the bone and i recommend everyone watch it. definitely plenty of blame to spread around. democrats and republicans both screwed the pooch in a major way. i've never been real high on LBJ - i think he's overrated personally - and this film solidified that point of view in a big way. he basically refused to get out of the war because he thought it would look bad. killing tens of thousands of people to save face is morally abhorrent and basically unforgivable in my mind.
  • also interesting to note that after we pulled out vietnam went into cambodia and had their own version of a quagmire. they were there for 10 years and failed as we did. they tried communism and it failed as well. when your enemy is hurting themselves, don't stop them. obviously this is hindsight, but if we had just let the vietnamese try communism it was only a matter of time before it would have failed.
  • i received a liberal education so most of what i learned about vietnam from movies, and a bit from school, was pretty simple: america wanted to contain communism because we had an irrational fear of communism and we involved ourselves in their civil war when we should have stopped being imperialist monsters. the documentary shows that reality was much more complicated. i think the international community screwed the pooch in a major way as well. if we had just let the north run over the south then hundreds of thousands or millions of innocent people would have died. in retrospect that's what happened anyway. however, you could certainly argue that it was initially a good idea to stick up for the south vietnamese in light of what the north wanted to do. unfortunately we were really the only ones who wanted to help out the south. in the end there were no winners, just losers. the amount of lost human potential in that conflict is so staggering, pointless, and depressing. i'm glad i watched the documentary to get a real view of the causes beyond the simplistic "bad america" narrative you tend to get from other sources.
  • here's a podcast that will help a bit in understanding why trump was elected. you won't listen. i understand. anyway, one of the things raised is that there's a class war of sorts and it gets missed by the media in a way that race and gender are not missed at all these days. there's a famous experiment where they submitted resumes with obviously black names and then obviously white names. both applicants had similar qualifications. the results were that john smith got call backs at a greater rate than saquan williams (or whatever). here's where the podcast comes into play. in the podcast they reference a study that did the same sort of test, but instead of john smith vs. saquan williams it was john benedict rockefeller vs. joe bob earnhardt (or whatever). the names and resumes that signaled upper class (through things like name and extracurricular activities like sailing vs. track and field or classical music vs. country) did way better than the lower class. in fact, the fictional lower class resumes received fewer call backs than those from the fictional black candidates. the upper AND lower class women received more call backs than the lower class men.
  • let me restate it so it doesn't get lost: according to these studies (limited as they are) it's worse to be a lower class man (1% call back rate) than it is to be a lower class woman (6% call back rate), a black person (10% call back rate from this study), or an upper class person (4-13% call back rate).
  • now, let's say that this is your personal experience as a white lower class man. you get call backs at a lower rate than other classes or genders or races. you get shit on in media on a regular basis. and then everyone turns around and says that you have it easy because you're a white guy. how do you think that affects one of these guys? this is important to think about and understand. it's just as important to understand as the black experience. the difference is that, today, it's well known what the black experience is and everyone is on notice that you need to feel a certain way about it and that you can't say anything bad about it. meanwhile, if you're a lower class white guy you're part of the problem because of your white maleness and you better shut your trap about any of your first world problems because we don't want to hear about it.
  • and so what's the lesson here? part of it is to understand the experience of a certain group. the other is that we really need to stop grouping people in general. there's nothing that says that because you're a white guy you've had it easy or that life is good. we need to get away from speaking in generalities and start judging individuals. this is beyond obvious and yet here we are where it actually needs to be stated because people continue to speak in monoliths. just look at the elections. the media simplistically views all the candidates in the following short hand: Party, Trump, Gender, Race...probably in that order. i watched and listened to a lot of coverage leading up to the election and following it...almost never did the media discuss anything beyond those things. occasionally they'd talk about fundraising. in some select cases they would bring up actual policy and how it affected the outcome. "so and so opposed some local issues that went against the typical party view. clearly he was appealing to the local constituency here and it seems to be paying off for him." but, outside of their stance on Trump, the discussions tended to revolve around whether the candidate was a D or an R. if they were a woman or person of color then that would enter into discussion as well. awful coverage.
  • i was listening to the radio tonight and heard a story about FL felons having their voting rights restored. this is great news. but there's a subtle thing that they did here and it shows what NPR and others think about when these things happen. this is important, but it's the kind of thing that i think most people miss... NPR said "The current system significantly affects African-Americans in the state" this is true, but it's less true than saying something else. Vox.com put it this way: "Black people, who are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated, will benefit the most." That is demonstrably not true. What both outlets missed is that the major beneficiaries of these law being passed are men. Not exactly a sexy reality, but there it is - and they both missed it.
  • according to this, 1.6 million disenfranchised in Florida. about 1/3 of them are black.
  • here's how i think they're thinking of it: 20% of black people will be affected by this law so it's affecting blacks as a group a lot. 2% of men (rough guess) will be affected by this law so it doesn't affect men very much.

  • here's how i think about it: the people who are going to have their rights restored are about 90% men and 30% black so it affects men more than any other group. to me it makes more sense to talk about the group actually affected rather than the demographic that the subgroup happens to belong to. one is to look from the societal level down to the felon group. the other is to look from the felon group outward. not sure that i'm expressing that correctly. here's what it is: the story is supposed to be about the felons who are benefitting from this new law. the felons are the ones most affected by the law in question. if you insist on separating the felons into smaller groups based upon how they were born then the most accurate way of describing the most of them is as men. after that you can get to the smaller group (blacks) and after that you can break them down even more if it suits your agenda. they skipped the largest identifier because it probably doesn't fit a tidy narrative that is in the news currently.
     

    10/14/18 (16:37)

  • just a reminder that apple is evil.

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    9/18/18 (21:03)

  • wrist and elbow are ailing lately. makes getting work done difficult. thought i wasn't going to have these problems for another 5 years or so. ugh.
  • i'm no elon musk fan, and i think i've written about him being overrated in the past. it's funny to see him finally getting some blowback lately now that the cars are having problems, china makes a good competitor, possible market manipulation, the "pedo" incident, and now him smoking a joint on the JRE podcast. all that said, i don't think he's losing his mind or anything. i think he's always being like this and people are finally waking up.
  • if you're actually concerned about the abuse of executive power then you should check out this podcast which is focused on Taft's reluctance to abuse the executive and they talk a bit about the contrast between that and Teddy Roosevelt or Trump's attitude towards the office. i think it's real precious that people don't like executive overreach now that Trump is in charge, but it was all crickets and tumbleweeds a few years ago...or when it comes time to make your top ten presidents list FDR is at or near the top. if this is your view then you can't say you dislike executive overreach...you just don't like it when it isn't your guy in charge. a lot easier for me to say that since i've never had a guy in charge and i no longer have the kind of respect i once had for most of the usual top presidents.
  • the kavanaugh nomination has been surprising theater. kamala harris did the grandstanding thing. she asked really specific questions about whether he's spoken with anyone at a specific law firm about the mueller investigation. either she has some intel and she doesn't want to reveal it (why not?), or she doesn't have anything and she wants to make him look bad through innuendo. it was a bizarre interaction. he either dodged or didn't want to give an answer that could be proven wrong. it's possible either way. i'm not sure what she was getting at, but she didn't make the case for it being relevant. i honestly think that if you watch the full video i linked to you have to come away thinking she was looking for political points. she's hoping for a 5 second clip of her looking tough and him looking dumb. she repeatedly asks him if he talked to someone at this law firm about the mueller investigation. after he asks who she's talking about she says it's a simple question and he should just answer it. then he says he'd need a list of people who work there. and she says it's a very direct question. she says she's surprised he can't remember the question, etc. it's ludicrous political theater. just watch it.
  • the relevant thing in these nominations should be if the judge can make judgments based upon the evidence presented to them. unfortunately people are people so i think it usually is just about partisanship these days. kavanaugh doesn't seem that far outside of the norm, from what i know, so precedent suggests that he should get approved. he would probably be about as bad as thomas from what i hear, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.
  • the latest news is about a woman he assaulted in high school. i think we have to ask ourselves these days how far back we're going to legislate a person's life. we have people getting fired for stuff they said on twitter 5 years ago. we have a judge whose nomination is getting derailed for a fight he had while he was drunk 30+ years ago. i'm not sticking up for any of these people, but we need to decide what's fair game, what matters, when it matters, etc. if someone hit their significant other while drunk should they be allowed back on the woman's soccer team as happened with hope solo? should ray rice have been given a second chance after destroying his fiancee's face in an elevator? does it matter that she hit him first? how about solange knowles? should she be taken out of the spotify rotation because she hit jay-z? how bad do your jokes need to be on twitter in order for you to get fired?
  • these are really strange times we're living in. on the one hand i think it's great because it theoretically raises the bar for public discourse and how one presents themselves. on the other hand, there are real world repercussions that are being meted out from mob action. it's easier than ever for someone to dig something up on twitter or from hacked personal conversations or even paying off people to tell lies all of which can get you fired or smeared without any sort of due process. if we could somehow combine the supposedly moralistic leanings of this trend with an even handed approach and due process, then we'd actually have something good on our hands. instead we have mob justice chewing up careers left and right. there's something wrong with this.
  • heard this jewish story the other day and it made me realize that i am indeed a jew.
  • "Two neighbors were fighting over a financial dispute. They couldn’t reach an agreement, so they took their case to the local rabbi. The rabbi heard the first litigant’s case, nodded his head and said, “You’re right.”
  • The second litigant then stated his case. The rabbi heard him out, nodded again and said, “You’re also right.”
  • The rabbi’s attendant, who had been standing by this whole time, was justifiably confused. “But, rebbe,” he asked, “how can they both be right?”
  • The rav thought about this for a moment before responding, “You’re right, too!”
  • zoe is in kindergarten now. such a big kid. i really want both my kids to be happy in life. i know i'll be forgotten in a generation or two, but i hope they remember me and are happy.

  •  

     

    9/4/18 (21:43)

  • work has been crazy lately.
  • i have an ungodly amount of stuff to do.

  • blah.
     

    8/7/18 (20:35)

  • lately there was a lot of talk about civility in politics and political discourse. basically the argument from the hardcore left is that fascism and white supremacy and power structures in general can't be contended with in a civil way. they also contend that civility itself is a patriarchal structure that has been created by, simply put, the man. i've listened to this debate a bit and can't say i've been moved by the arguments the radical left is putting out there. i think it's absolutely central that we have a civil discourse. civility in politics are of paramount importance and giving in to incivility is the beginning of the end.
  • basically i think that politics are like a friendly game of ping pong. the point of the game is to rally as long as possible. if one person is slamming the ball and going for kill shots all the time then it defeats the purpose. the longer we talk and stay at the table the better off we are. even if one side gets creamed for a couple decades (for example when the democrats ran congress for 26 years in the 60s and 70s).
  • i've tried to hire a couple times in the past and it's been very difficult finding people who even have the soft skills required for any kind of real employment. i'm talking about the ability to show up on time, speak basic english (unfortunately a requirement for me), and be generally willing to work. i don't know if this is specific to the trades or what. then there's the next level that i'd like which is someone who can do the basics of carpentry or wall patching or whatever. fine homebuilding magazine has a podcast and they were in SF for the PCBC and talked about how so many of the local contractors were having trouble finding guys who could even show up to help lift a beam on occasion and help keep the jobsite clean. what's been most disconcerting, however, is the lack of pipelines there are for this work. on the one hand it's nice for me because it makes me more valuable. i'm not the most skilled tradesman in the world, but i have more than enough work for the two of us because i can get the job done, communicate well, don't scare people, and demand is insanely high. but on the other hand it's very disconcerting. there are a lot of (mostly) young men who should probably go into the trades instead of working fast food or as janitors or getting into trouble on the streets. they don't fit into the classroom, but a trade school or wood/auto shop in high school could change their trajectory. unfortunately those pipelines don't seem as strong as they once were. unions are corrupt, only viable on the commercial/civic level, and too stale to change their ways. guilds could be a solution, but i don't think they were ever really a thing here.
  • i've talked to the head of the carpentry program at laney and asked her to get me people on two different occasions and both times no one contacted me. either she lied about giving them my info or they didn't care to follow up the lead. after this article came out in the paper i contacted the program about getting someone who could help me on the jobsite. no response. so, we have a meager pipeline for this type of work and no one associated with it seems to be doing their job and/or the people in the pipeline are of such low caliber that they can't even get it together enough to follow up on career leads. or maybe my experience isn't indicative of a larger trend (even though it's corroborated by the FHB podcast and every single contractor i've spoken with about it).
  • it's kinda easy to forget about how good metallica is.
  • the bill of rights is pretty awesome. i think the average american could probably come up with 1, 2, and 5 off the top of their head, but all (except 3) are so foundational and interesting to consider as a whole.
  • 1 is freedom of speech and assembly. i think it's #1 for good reason.
  • 2 is right to bear arms. i think it's really important if you think of it as i think it was intended - as a way of avoiding a standing army. the so-called gun nuts are right about the 2nd amendment when they say that it's about the people keeping the government in check. it would have been nice if it was interpreted this way, but that didn't work out for whatever reason. viewed this way, i think it being #2 speaks volumes about what the founders wanted (or didn't want) from their government...namely consolidated power backed up by a standing army. as-is we got the worst of both worlds in a way. we have pretty open gun laws in a lot of places AND we also have a large and powerful federal army.
  • 3 is about quartering soldiers. i don't know that it applies to today's world at all.
  • 4 is right against illegal search and seizure. interesting ramifications in today's tech world, but i basically see it as a right to privacy and basic dominion over your own property.
  • 5 is the right to not incriminate yourself and the right to due process. pretty fucking important and starts the run of amendments about criminal justice.
  • 6 is also about criminal justice and covers the right to a speedy jury trial. foundational.
  • 7 is also about criminal justice and expands jury trial rights. 3 in a row limiting the ability of the government to lock up its citizens.
  • 8 is also about criminal justice and limits excessive bail and cruel/unusual punishment. 4 in a row about locking up the citizenry. i think it's very telling that 4/10 of the bill of rights are about placing restrictions on the government's ability to lock up its citizens. it would be really nice if we took these four amendments way more seriously.
  • 9 says that there are other rights of the people, not listed in these 10 amendments, and the government can't restrict them just because they're not listed here. in my perfect world you could have gotten gun rights in through #9 and #2 would have been about limiting the standing army. #9 is also the way we got the right to abortion.
  • 10 is possibly the most abused amendment of all. it basically is the states' rights amendment. presidents have been shitting on this amendment for 100+ years.
  • it's obvious, but i was looking at them again this week and really admiring how good a job they did 240 years ago in laying out a good framework for the limits of power the government can have. i just wish we stuck more closely to their prescription. things get tricky when you talk about the intent of the second amendment and all that, but amendments 5-8 being about limiting the government's ability to lock people up seems really important and contrary to what has followed. it's a shame we haven't lived up to their intentions.
  • prime working age (25-54) employment is 79.5%. this is evidently a relatively high number, but it seems awfully low to me when you think about the u-3 (most reported unemployment rate) number being something like 4% right now. that's the number that's always reported, though i prefer the u-6 (7.5%) which takes into account discouraged workers. but the prime working age employment number is only 79.5% which means 20% of people in that age range aren't working. this is just shockingly low to me. of course it's higher now than in the booming 1950s and 1960s (when it was in the mid 60s range) because women weren't in the labor force then at the same rate that they are now. i think if you adjusted for that, it may be higher, but i don't know. 4% for the u3 is very low historically so maybe i'm wrong. just tough to think that a fifth of people who are in the prime of their working life aren't working.
  • for reference, people over 55 are at 40%.
  • in the mid 1990s 16-19 employment rate was about 67% during the summer months. today it peaks at 42%. this means it's 25 percentage points lower in just 20 years. in other words, there's real truth to my saying that the kids these days don't work as much as they did in my days. teenage employment peaked in the late 1970s at around 72% in the summer.
  • this point about teenage employment relates to my post above about finding people with soft skills required for employment. if only 42% of teens are getting work in the summer then how can we expect them to show up on time, etc. when it comes time to get a real job in their 20s?
  • obviously i'm looking at a lot of US bureau of labor statistics data right now...another finding (which is somewhat well known now with the recent immigration talk), is that immigrant labor participation rate is higher than native born people. i've said for a while now that i'd take a lot of illegals over the lazy people who were born here. if you're willing to leave your life and cross an ocean or travel through a desert, or whatever, to get here then you're probably going to find a way to actually work. foreign born rate is 66% and native born is 63%. the data probably refers to legal immigrants, but i suspect it holds for both legal and illegal.

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    8/3/18 (21:05)

  • adjusted for inflation, there's been a 77% decrease in the number of psychiatric beds since 1970. we just don't have psychiatric hospitals like we used to. is it any surprise then that our prison population has skyrocketed during that time? couple the decrease in number of hospital beds for the severely mentally ill with the tough on crime policies of reagan and clinton and you can probably explain most of the graphic below.
  • i've written before about the liberal myths of privatized prisons and the war on drugs being the cause of the rising prison population. this isn't really the case and i've sourced that stuff before. i can't make a causal link between prison population and the decrease in psychiatric facilities, but i'd be willing to bet that the two are strongly causally linked, and certainly more than the two myths that are typically talked about (and which i once bought into). it was actually the liberal vox.com that clued me into the war on drugs being a fake cause for rising prison populations.
  • the next thing my (liberal) mind goes to is that the decrease in psychiatric beds is due to evil conservative politicians cutting funding, but i didn't find this to entirely be the case. instead it seemed to be largely cultural. one flew over the cuckoo's nest type hospitals fell out of favor. new drugs came on the market and funding shifted from hospitals to local programs funded via medicare/medicaid. in CA the LPS act (bipartisan bill signed by reagan) was passed and that decreased some funding on the state level. on the federal level reagan also moved funding to block grants and states chose to defund mental hospitals over other priorities.

  • block grants are interesting because they give the states freedom to do what they want with federal money, but the downside of them is that it creates a lot of opportunities for states to do questionable things with the money. politicians talk a lot about "50 laboratories of innovation", and indeed the federal system is one of the great things the u.s. has going for us. unfortunately those 50 laboratories can sometimes take that federal money and do dumb things with it. so, after a state tries a new way of dealing with the mentally ill or people on welfare, and it doesn't go well, people can easily go back and point out that the feds started doling out mental health money (under reagan) or welfare money (under clinton's reform) in block grants and some states wasted that money because there wasn't enough federal oversight or because the state had some weird ideas about how to spend said money. the other thing with block grants is that sometimes they're not adjusted for inflation properly so it's a de facto spending decrease. that said, i am, in principle, in favor of them. i like the 50 laboratories of innovation aspect and i do believe in montesquieu's idea that decisions should fall to the smallest available authority whenever possible.
  • when deciding how much authority a government should have should we err on the side of too much or not enough? it's strange because i think a lot of left leaning people would typically say i'd rather have too much regulation to protect the poor and the environment, etc., instead of not enough. but they're getting a lesson now (at least intellectually, if not in practice) on that thinking. the same people who lift up FDR and Obama and Wilson and every other leftist president who expanded the reach and power of the executive branch must now rethink their point of view. the problem isn't that a bunch of idiots voted for Bush or Trump...the problem is that we gave the office of the presidency, and the executive branch in general, so much power that when an idiot or tyrant inevitably snuck into the office, he could do real harm. people need to think about this deeply and overstand it. there's a big difference.
  • one measure of a just society, perhaps the most important measure, in my opinion, is to create a system in which you would be satisfied with your position regardless of where you happened to be. so, if i were born a black woman in america would i be happy with the current paradigm, the existing laws, the culture's way of dealing with me? if not, then perhaps something needs changing. i must quickly add that it's tempting, then, to make a communist system where the state forcibly equalizes everyone because then it wouldn't matter if you woke up tomorrow as a disabled veteran or a left handed transgender native american. this is clearly folly.
  • what percentage of u.s. workers earn the federal minimum wage or less? go ahead and take a guess. i was wrong when i guessed. latest number i found was below 3%.
  • i think one of the best arguments against the democratic party is in the form of medium and large cities that typically are run by democrats (and often for several continuous terms, as in chicago [democrat since 1931], baltimore [democrat since 1967], st. louis [since 1949], philadelphia [since 1952], detroit [democrat since 1962], SF (since 1964), oakland [since 1977]) and yet are overrun by crime and poverty. to my thinking, this is a real problem for a democratic platform that preaches wage equality or claims any ability to run a successful government. the democrats really need to do something about this if they want to make a claim that they can fix economic inequality or run an effective government.
  • when i think about government's core functions it's to provide law and order. that includes enforcing contract law, property rights, etc. and it also includes basic safety (police and fire) on the local level. for example: in oakland, 66% of the general purpose fund goes to police and fire. if one party's ideas consistently can't get the job done then i'd think you'd need to change things up.
  • look at cities like phoenix, san diego, LA, houston (to a lesser extent), NYC, etc. those cities have had at least occasional republicans in the last 40 years (unlike all the cities i listed above). those cities don't show up on the list of most crime. they also range in location, demographics, size, etc. my theory is that it takes diverse views and approaches to run things well. when you have a city like chicago that was run by one family (richard daley and his son) for 43 out of 56 years...it's not exactly the diversity of opinion we're looking for.
  • back to oakland. 66% of our general fund goes to two departments. that's $378 million and that doesn't even include pension payments (which add tens of millions, though i can't find the exact number). but the #1 single expenditure is "debt service and misc." to the tune of $283 million. when servicing your debt is your number one expense you're not doing something right. personally, i'd love someone who can balance a budget and decrease crime rates.
  • republicans talk about those two things all the time. on a national level this is something that you can argue they talk about, but don't actually follow through on very well (look at the budget under bush vs. obama, or reagan vs. clinton, for example). on a local level, though, it seems they tend to do a better job. wish i had some data on that to confirm or deny. regardless, oakland is paying way too much for police/fire, way too much for servicing their debt, and way too much for their pension (a defined benefit plan vs. a defined contribution plan - which is far better).

  • the general fund was $397 million in 2012 under jean quan. today it's $593 million. that's an additional $196 million a year in spending that oakland is doing. times now are good and so city revenue is high. there seems to be no urgency in paying off debts or having a rainy day fund. if you give the government more money it will spend it.
     

    7/31/18 (21:02)

  • lululemon in berkeley got $10k worth of stuff stolen in 30 seconds. this is the society we live in i guess. this stuff just kills me because you know that corporate has a policy of not allowing their employees to do anything. so, they have to hire a security guard now i guess. the rise of private security is troubling to say the least. there are more private security officers than there are police now. surely this is indicative of a society that doesn't value proper policing. all sorts of things wrong with this.
  • france won the world cup and trevor noah made it about race (he said "africa won the world cup" because half the french team is black). this is one of those things that has really turned me off to politics lately. both sides seem to understand that using race is a winning issue and it's disgusting. as a result of this stuff i think more about race than i ever have and it's frankly extremely caustic to a person's well-being to be race obsessed to the point that we're at now.
  • everyone agrees that trump is a piece of shit, but it's odd to see the way these same people equivocate with melania. surely she's not at the same level as him, but she benefits from his awful ways and chose to partner with him (supposedly for life). isn't there some level of guilt by association there? "behind every great man there is a great woman," somehow gets applied to clinton and FDR, but not to trump and hitler. isn't that sexist?
  • one reason i like the ACLU above so many other groups is that they have actual principles. they want civil liberties to be preserved and they fight for that principle despite the backlash they get from the left and right. just listen to some of the podcasts nadine strossen (former ACLU president) has done talking about the role of that organization...good stuff. they lost a bunch of members after fighting for the rights of nazis in skokie, but it was the right thing to do. they probably upset many on the left when they fought for citizens united or when they joined forces with the NRA to oppose a gun registry, but it was the right thing to do.
  • there's a way in which being an ideologue is a bad thing. i think of ted cruz as an example of a true believer who is an ideologue and who is potentially very dangerous. i thought trump would be better in that he didn't have a lot of true convictions and was actually pretty moderate in some ways. recently, though, it seems that ideologues would almost be preferable because at least ideologues would hold trump's feet to the fire a bit. instead what we have today are people who are about party above ideas. it's obvious to those who read this that anti-russia rhetoric and free trade were republican ideals just a few years ago, but now they've flipped on those ideas. but democrats aren't above this flip flopping either. lots of what obama did was fine because it was obama, but when it was romney or bush or trump it's a different story, i think the republicans are worse about sticking to the party line above ideology, but it definitely cuts both ways.
  • lots of talk about gentrification in the bay area lately, especially oakland, so i'll just link this here.
  • bill maher and michael moore both were saying on his show the other day that trump won't leave office in 2020. this is so hilarious because i've heard this same song and dance the last two presidents and there's never been a problem. here's how it goes: a liberal uncle tells you that diebold is fixing the election and that bush won't give up power because he's a fascist. the elections are fixed, but even if they aren't, bush won't leave office. he'll declare martial law. then, 8 years later i hear from right wing nut jobs that obama hates the country and will fix the election for hillary and won't leave office if anyone else wins. now, mainstream leftists are saying the same thing about trump this time. now, you can make an honest argument for trump being worse than the others when it comes to defying norms, but the succession of power is a law, not an unwritten norm. to the best of my knowledge, trump has abided by every judicial decision that's been made on his overreaches. there's not great evidence that he'll make the truly unprecedented move of refusing to give up power when his term(s) is/are up. and, if he does, i'll be on the streets with everyone else.
  • just outcomes depend upon just processes. ergo, if a process is just then the outcome is justice. unfortunately it seems that people today define a just outcome as one that fits their ideological worldview. there are times when outcomes will be uneven, that isn't necessarily a sign that the process is unjust. we should focus our energy on process and opportunity, not outcomes.
  • there was a much needed planet money podcast about gentrification in the bay area. this is something i talk about a lot lately. they followed a woman in oakland who was upset about the cost of renting and basically came to the obvious conclusion that we need more housing here. so, she started a YIMBY movement (yes in my back yard). homeowners, especially in the bay area, have a very closed off view of development and housing. it's actually extremely hypocritical if you think about it for more than a second, but i doubt most of them do.
  • basically you have well off people who own homes (i include myself in that category) who oppose further development for a variety of reasons (i'm not in this category). they will cite environmental impact or community standards, etc. oak knoll is a proposed development in oakland that has been in the works for 20+ years. just think about that from the standpoint of a developer. you have to put 20 years of work and money and environmental impact studies and architects and working with the city and working with the community just to get a green light. what does that do to the cost of the project? it goes up. what does that do to the likelihood of getting affordable housing? it goes down.
  • if you want lower cost housing then you have to have fewer people or more housing. economics can get very complex and there's a lot that economists fight over or don't fully understand, but supply and demand are pretty rock solid. this is not complex. bay area homeowners don't want more housing, though. less housing and more demand means their homes increase in value and they like that. i like it also, but i'm not going to fight against developments (including the proposed one a block away which could bring 100 units to our neighborhood). bay area claim to care about housing and claim to care about the poor, but they don't want the poor to have housing. not in their back yard. not at the expense of their home values.
  • another bit of hypocrisy you see with regards to this is that people in the bay area claim to care quite a bit about global warming. they buy a prius (we have one too) and they vote democrat, but the bay area is one of the best places in the country when it comes to low impact living. air conditioning is a greater strain on global warming than transportation, for example, and you don't need A/C in SF or Oakland. wouldn't you think that the bay area would want all the people from vegas and phoenix to move to Marin or SF or Oakland so global warming impact could be reduced? not so much. instead, we have pretty tough restrictions on developments and housing. we make it more difficult to build here than just about anywhere else (NYC being the only other area potentially worse than SF). i know this because of the trade mags i read, the contractors i've spoken with across the country, and the editors at Fine Homebuilding even remarked recently that you need to be an expert builder to build in SF in part because of the regulations we have here.

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    7/2/18 (21:33)

  • progressives tend to love europe and think that they do everything better over there so it's interesting to see that germany has abortion laws that are the envy of the republican party. or that switzerland has a ban on new mosques. it's easy to love a place when you don't have to actually settle there.
  • interesting, too, that denmark allows you to have an abortion past 12 weeks, but only in certain instances (one of which being that you're poor).
  • not the first time i've mentioned this, but it's quite fascinating that we have more information than ever at our fingertips and yet it's an era of post-truth unlike anything i've heard of before. getting the truth is easier than ever and yet many people refuse to seek it out. obama says that women earn 78 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men and people eat it up. it's demonstrably false and has been debunked by plenty of scholars. half of what trump says is demonstrably untrue and yet it doesn't sway his base either. people don't seek the truth because they don't want to hear it. i remember hearing about the gender wage myth and having the reaction that i didn't want to learn that something i've "known" for all my adult life was completely false. it's humbling and disruptive to have your core beliefs proven false.
  • one thing is that you can't always ascribe a motive for the lies these people tell. is obama lying because the lie gets at some actual truth that is hard to represent? or is he lying because he just wants to manipulate? or is there something else going on? maybe a given lie is true enough in some way or gets at a truth that needs to be told even though the fact itself isn't true. it's useful to lie in this way because telling the complicated truth about the wage gap involves 50 sentences instead of one. and, hey, the truth is that women, as the primary caregivers, make that career sacrifice and perhaps society should recognize that more. but that's tougher to pitch than the lie that they earn less than men for doing the same work.
  • the ascribing of motive is tricky because it's often shoe horned in on the tail of fact checking. so, i can fact check obama on his lie about the wage gap and then say that the reason he tells this lie is to further his narrative with women, who are a key constituency. it's easy to prove the first part, but very difficult to prove his motives. unfortunately this happens a lot. someone points out the lie of a person and then they ascribe sinister motives to the liar to take them down even further.
  • sam harris makes the argument that lies are a key moral failing. it may be idealistic, but i agree that lying is a cornerstone of much of what we claim to despise in society from corruption to theft and much in between. lying is evil.
  • regarding having core beliefs proven false...on the make me smart podcast they always ask "what's one thing you thought you knew and were later proven wrong about?" it's kinda like the question they asked w. bush when he was leaving - what did you regret? he couldn't come up with anything. people who can't come up with regrets or a list of things they thought they knew, but were proven wrong about can't be trusted in a way. it shows an arrogance or lack of intellectual honesty and curiosity. do you really think you've gotten everything right in life from birth? is that even possible? if not then you must have changed your mind along the way about some big things in the past. if you haven't then you're not thinking enough, you're not seeking out differing opinions, etc.
  • if you haven't had core beliefs challenged and changed then you've gotten it all right from the beginning...just like the fundamentalist religious types who just happened to be born into a family that believed in the one true god...lucky them. the more homogenous your community, the less your community tolerates dissenting opinions, the more likely you are to think you've had it right all along.
  • this probably evokes thoughts of back water towns in west virginia, but i think it's just as likely growing up in berkeley where conservatives are persona non grata and PC culture is strong.
  • no shit.
  • if you become an alcoholic and shit your life away for 10 years and then get sober you're likely to be received as a hero of sorts. you'll get stories written about you and the like. if, instead, you spend 10 years living like a normal productive citizen then no one gives a shit. it's thought that the first person had to struggle and fight in order to succeed and the second just had it easy. but shouldn't we applaud the second person for having the sense to stay away from alcohol? shouldn't the second person get some props for having foresight or self control enough to avoid the pitfalls of others? is johnny knoxville a hero for jumping off a building, breaking his leg, and then going to physical therapy so he can walk again? wouldn't it be better if he never jumped off the building?
  • i can relate to this because i never got into drugs and alcohol. i was smart enough to see what it did to those around me and i avoided it like the plague. do people think i never wanted to jump off that building? that i never wanted to just let go and relax thanks to some drug or another? i remember my health teacher in high school telling us about cocaine and the first thing she said was that it felt extremely good. she then went on to discuss the physiological response and downfalls, etc. it's not like anyone who stays away from this stuff doesn't know, or can't comprehend, how great this stuff might feel...we just choose to avoid it because the downside is potential disaster.

  • reminds me of the newspaper headline you never see: "150,000 people didn't die today thanks to vaccines."
     

    6/29/18 (19:10)

  • "The End" features Starr's only drum solo in the Beatles' catalogue (the drums are mixed across two tracks in "true stereo", unlike most releases at that time where they were hard panned left or right). Fifty-four seconds into the song are 18 bars of lead guitar: the first two bars are played by McCartney, the second two by Harrison, and the third two by Lennon, with the sequence repeating.[65] Harrison suggested the idea of a guitar solo in the track, Lennon decided they should trade solos and McCartney elected to go first. The solos were cut live against the existing backing track in one take.[15] Immediately after Lennon's third and final solo, the piano chords of the final part of the song begin. The song ends with the memorable final line, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make".
  • best album of all-time.
  • they should remake a bunch of classic movies, but within the current political climate. so, they tell the story of norma rae, but instead of starting a union because of legitimate grievances she complains to management about manspreading and doesn't get anything done because of systemic patriarchy. basically it could be a series of reimagined classics cut short because of political correctness.
  • in the last few weeks i've heard two distinct condemnations of banks and home lending practices over the last 15 years or so: 1) poor people of color can't get housing loans because banks discriminate. 2) poor people of color were duped into loans (predatory lending).
  • both these arguments have come from the left and seem in contradiction. i'm not sure what the perfect sweet spot is supposed to be for banks seeing as i have literally heard both ends of the spectrum being cited as examples of discrimination against people of color in specific regards to housing.
  • at some point i think we need to have a serious, honest, and frank conversation about the extent to which agency and free will exist. of course many people have this conversation in their 20s, in college, or whatever. but, as a society, i think we need to be a bit more honest and open about it and have it in those terms...to what extent can people be held responsible for their own actions? i'm not a determinist, but there are smart people who are. i'm also not a complete libertarian who believes that it's your job to be an expert in every piece of paper you put your signature on, but there has to be some expectation that all people take their own fate into their own hands. without this fundamental premise i think we may as well just pack it up and cut straight to the chase: socialism and equal outcomes for all.
  • a couple examples of government doing a good job to help protect consumers: cooling off period when you buy a car and 3 day right to cancel home improvement contracts. there are probably a lot more. this helps protect the impulsive consumer or the consumer who feels pressured by a salesman. i'm not sure if they have something similar for home mortgages. but let's be real - if you're making 25k/year and you own a $500k house then you have to (or should) know that something isn't adding up. maybe the salesman sold you on an adjustable rate mortgage, but at that point you probably wanted to be fooled.
  • TINSTAAFL. there is no such thing as a free lunch. if it's too good to be true then it probably is. you need a healthy skepticism and if you don't have that as an adult then i'm sorry, but that's not really society's problem.
  • what's good for the goose is good for the gander. if the above applies to poor individuals of color (or whoever your favorite victim group is), then it applies as much or more to banks that give shitty loans to people who have no chance of paying them off. i believe in moral hazard. the banks should become government property long enough to ride out the storm and sell to a bank that can handle it.
  • let's not forget the seven sins (the first two of which apply heavily here):
  • commerce without morality
  • wealth without work
  • pleasure without conscience
  • knowledge without character
  • science without humanity
  • religion without sacrifice
  • politics without principle
  • i talked about that last one just a couple weeks ago.
  • and regarding what the IDW is up against these days: All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships. -George Bernard Shaw
  • "wherever germany extends her sway, she ruins culture" - nietzsche
  • "It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much." -Yogi Berra
  • the incel movement got a bit of coverage lately. for those who don't know...an incel is an involuntary celibate. basically guys (mostly) who can't get laid for whatever reason. this tends to end up in them being very bitter and angry (mostly with women). basically, some of them are saying there is a right to sex. they have a right to sex because it's a biological imperative - a basic human need - and so society should take care of that for them. what's fascinating to me, and i haven't heard anyone else address it in quite this way, is that some of them have become sexual communists in this way. all the coverage i've heard about the subject has focused on them being women-hating psychos, but none of the mainstream coverage acknowledges the logic of the argument. perhaps it's because it's the same logic that communists use to justify their taking the labor of others for their basic needs.
  • to simplify things it goes like this: i'm a communist who believes in a right to housing, food, healthcare, internet, etc. i don't provide these things for myself (for legitimate or illegitimate reasons - it doesn't matter to the communists), so the rest of society should provide these things for me. all the incel movement has done is include sex in the list of human rights. i wrote about the issue of creeping "human rights" several months ago and a year ago, and here's yet another example of it. when i complained about it then it could be seen as a conservative complaint because i complained about things that liberals today are pushing for (free internet, healthcare, right to preferred gender pronoun use, etc.) and now it could be seen as a liberal complaint since the liberals have been big on reporting on the incel movement (probably because it's essentially an anti-woman movement and that fits nicely into their narrative).
  • i don't drink coffee and i don't care about starbucks, but it occurs to me that they're getting shit on a lot lately and it's an example of the left eating itself. they decided to take a day to talk about race and they got shit on for it being ham fisted or whatever. one manager maybe kicks out a couple of black guys and everyone shits on starbucks. it's really bizarre because they should be praised in a lot of ways. they provide free college opportunities for their employees, they offer good advancement, good benefits, good flexibility for students and parents, and good wages. yet they get shit on at every opportunity. if they had 100 stores instead of 27,000 then i think people would have a very difference opinion of them.
  • i'm in no way an economist, but i'd love to see some analysis of this concept that it seems like no matter how things change we always find a way to work roughly 40 hours a week at the median level. consumer goods cost less, food costs less, but those savings are just offset by new "needs" like cell phones or rising costs in healthcare or other sectors. it seems as though there's just a limiting societal factor of us working about that much and having whatever wage that works out to (adjusted for inflation or not) and the only issue is how that amount of work (as represented by money) is going to be divvied up by various potential needs or sectors.
  • i guess the counter point to this would be that we have higher levels of consumer debt than we did in the past.
  • malcolm gladwell is really hit and miss lately. he either really nails it or totally misses. one of his recent podcasts was about the nature of memory and how flexible and imperfect it is. he talked about studies where people recall being one place on 9/11 a year after the attacks and then a totally different place when they were asked again 5 years after the attacks. i find this mildly interesting, but not all that compelling. i remember precisely where i was and i know with metaphysical certainty that i'm remembering correctly. but that's besides the point. his point seemed to be that brian williams was simply misremembering when he told his story about landing in the middle east under terrorist fire. it's the story that got him suspended for a while and gladwell was doing his best to be an apologist for him. frankly, i think it's nuts. it's one thing to misremember where you were when a big event happened and it's another to misremember being in the middle of enemy fire when you're just a journalist (or hillary clinton since she also lied about something similar). being in a life threatening situation is just vastly different. memory isn't infallible...and when he addresses the role memory plays in a movement like #metoo i can see how it's salient to remember that there's two sides to a story and your memory of every detail can have holes. but this is very different from remembering 1) i was under rocket fire in a foreign country and my life was in legitimate danger or 2) i landed on a peaceful tarmac and nothing was happening. there's a clear binary that exists and it's a leap beyond all leaps to try to give the benefit of the doubt to williams on this. sorry not sorry.
  • in the further collapsing trust of our institutions the NBA continues to have ref issues to the point where people are posting play by play recaps of bad calls in playoff games. 1) people take this shit too seriously (i used to also) 2) society is fucked when we can't even trust foul calls anymore
  • did i write about oprah and her "speak your truth" nonsense? post-modernism run amok. it's also strange when people (usually liberals and PC academics) talk about speaking your truth but they shout down or deride any "truth" that they don't like. it's a very odd dynamic that they can't see the blatant hypocrisy. "you should speak your truth"..."but not you because you're a white guy and you can't know anything about racism, oppression, sexism, privilege, etc." for example. what about the truth of the trump voter? shouldn't they speak their truth? personally i think the whole idea is idiotic. you can give your opinion and your experience (and everyone should), but don't call it truth. but if you believe the nonsense mantra of "speak your truth" then at least have the courage to let it apply to everyone.
  • i wonder what would happen if trump tried to hire his brother for attorney general like JFK did. apparently the NYT and others gave JFK a pretty hard time about it. good to see some consistency on the nepotism topic.
  • wine seems to be a gross misapplication of resources. billions spent on cultivating grapes for minor differences in flavor. wonder what the global warming impact is on shipping glass bottles from italy and france to california. i wonder if wine drinking liberals care about that as much as i used to care about people driving SUVs.
  • wish we talked more about ideas, not individuals.
  • wish we talked more about individuals, not groups.
  • abortion and gun control people are basically the same - for each it's a religious issue. for the second amendment people they're fundamentalists - "never take my guns. never restrict me from having any guns i want." for abortion rights folks it's "never restrict my right to an abortion." neither group seems very willing to give in on even common sense restrictions or changes to current law.
  • for those who like to look to europe as enlightened:
  • from atlantic...germany on abortion: "women seeking first-trimester abortions are subject to a mandatory three-day waiting period and a counseling session. Abortions after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are forbidden except in cases of grave threat to the mother's physical or mental health."
  • finland on abortion: " abortion is available up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, unless the woman is under 17 years old, in which case she may have an abortion until she's 20 weeks pregnant. But even for early abortions, women must provide a "social reason" for seeking to terminate her pregnancy, such as poverty, extreme distress, or already having at least four children. While in practice most abortion requests are granted, it still forces women to prove to an authority the validity of their desire not to have a baby"
  • denmark on abortion: "abortion is available on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Afterward, exceptions are made for cases of rape, threats to the woman's physical or mental health, risk of fetal defects, and -- revealingly -- in cases where the woman can demonstrate lack of financial resources to care for a child."

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    6/12/18 (19:53)

  • so apparently there was a 7 year old who won the pride parade in LA. i'm not sure what it means to win the pride parade, but i guess they liked him. he's 7 and he's a trans person. just let that sink in. i guess there are a lot of people who find this to be really good news, but i can't say i'm one of them. saying that isn't really allowed in polite society anymore, but i guess i'm old because i care less about that every day. this is horse shit. this kid apparently knows enough about men and women and gender roles to reject what he was born with. an astonishing accomplishment at seven. it sure seems as though transgender people embrace gender roles as much as anyone else, including the most ardent conservative republicans.
  • there was a munk debate about political correctness recently wherein the side arguing that political correctness hasn't gone too far basically refused to address the core issue of political correctness. it was a bizarre debate because one side was at least attempting to argue the core resolution and the other side just talked about oppressed people and their oppressors. i suppose this is why the "con" side won the debate. i believe pretty strongly that this debate about political correctness is a valid and important one. politically incorrect speech is absolutely stifled in polite society, in leftist enclaves, in academia, and in the mainstream media. it's really something that i think moderates need to fight against, or else we'll all suffer the consequences of limited speech, limited action, limited political debate, exchange of free ideas, etc. of course, trump is partly a backlash against this. a vote for him is, in a very real way, a vote against incumbents and the political elites, but it's also a vote against a system of repressed speech and ideas...things that occur under the guise of political correctness.
  • this isn't to say that i like trump or that i think it was a wise vote to choose him over hillary because the system needed shaking up so badly or because PC culture has run amok. i've said it before that he's the wrong answer to the right questions. the concerns are valid and real and i sympathize with them very much, but trump was an awful choice. sanders also struck a nerve for many of the same reasons, but he didn't get quite the following for a variety of reasons.

  • jordan peterson was in that debate and he's one of the people identified as being in the intellectual dark web. i've seen the rise of these thinkers for the past two years or so and the NYT finally published something that seems to have gotten some legs on the topic. the common thread with the people comprising the IDW is that they are speaking out against homogeneous academia, against political correctness, and against basic notions that we can't have reasonable debates about topics that are considered taboo today. everyone mentioned in her article has been on my podcast rotation for a while now. i found bari weiss's piece on the IDW to be quite fair in a world where a lot of criticism against harris and peterson revolves around them being racists and shills for the alt-right. these are clearly attacks from people who either are wholly ignorant of what those two people stand for, or who are willingly lying for political purposes.
     

    5/30/18 (20:12)

  • not sure if i told this story after it happened, but the truck broke down about a year ago and i was at the top of skyline when it happened. called AAA and they sent someone out. over an hour later the guy showed up and said he couldn't tow my truck because it's a commercial vehicle. this was annoying because i went over everything with AAA. his suggestion to me was to put the truck in neutral and coast down the hill. i told him to give me some gas in the hopes that that was the issue. it wasn't and he left as quickly as he came. i was sitting there annoyed as hell and i thought about his dumb ass suggestion to coast down the hill. where would that get me? i'd be broken down, but now i'd be at the bottom of the hill. what's the point of that? it's a 3.5 ton truck...without power brakes and power steering it's possible i'd get to the bottom of the hill, but i wouldn't be in one piece. at first i just dismissed him as an idiot and moved on, but while i was waiting for another tow truck (that i had to call separate from AAA) i started thinking about how truly dangerous his suggestion was. if i didn't know any better then maybe i would have followed his recommendation. if i had done that then there's a very good chance i would have gotten in an accident.
  • i used to have the attitude that people who do the same thing every day are probably very good at it. they're probably expert at their craft - whatever it may be. i revered experts. i no longer hold this point of view. experts of all kinds are wrong every day. well-intentioned smart, stupid, well-read, and ignorant people are wrong about things in and out of their wheelhouse on a regular basis. therefore, the only rational approach is healthy skepticism.
  • really liking the econtalk podcast. russ roberts is based in stanford and he interviews all sorts of people and talks about all sorts of things. he has an economist's take on these things, of course, but it's not always economics. good interviewer and good conversations. one idea he mentioned is that view that libertarians view things as coercion vs. freedom. liberals view things as oppressed vs. oppressors. and conservatives view things as civilization vs. barbarism. none of these adages are 100% true, but i think it's a valuable way of thinking about the differences between the groups.
  • the last two months i've averaged 8+ days of podcast listening.
  • there's a legitimate debate going on about post-modernism these days. i don't have the energy to get into it too much now...it seems that a lot of the conversation now is revolving around the nature of power in a post-modern world. everything is a zero sum game. everything is a power dynamic. nothing is rooted in reality - it's all just a manifestation of those in power. it's out of this philosophy that we get to a post truth world. everything is fake news, everything is racism, everything is sexism, reality is subjective, etc. if you listen to the stefan molyneux/thaddeus russell debate you'll see what i'm talking about. i'm no great fan of either of them, but thaddeus russell in particular looks like a fool in this debate.

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    5/26/18 (20:54)

  • warriors forced a game 7 tonight. can't recall having seen a 46 point swing before. they were down by as many as 17 in the first half and ended up winning by 29. curry looked like trash in game 5. he seems afraid to take the traditional star role...selfless to a fault sometimes. we'll see how game 7 goes. hopefully chris paul is back so it's not a tainted game.
  • lots to say, not much time. i'll catch up soon.

  •  

     

    5/6/18 (14:04)

  • thanks obama. had that link in an email to myself from 1/13/17. guess i'm a little behind on filing my personal emails.
  • this:

  • reminded me of this:

  • 5/4/18 (19:21)

  • 18th street project is done with the construction phase. hope to have some good before and after pictures in the next week or so. pretty happy with the transformation. sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in the minutiae and day to day crap that you lose sight of how far a place has come. overall, i think we did a real good job with it.
  • here's what i think is the ideal: when bad things happen in my life i should first think about what i did to bring these events on my doorstep. what did i do, or not do, that caused this situation? when good things happen in my life i should strive to think about the ways in which i got lucky or was aided by others. so, that's the ideal. it sure seems, though, that a lot of people have that completely flipped. bad things happen and it's always because of the man or the system or mommy and daddy or bad luck. good things happen and it's because i deserve it, i worked hard, i earned it.
  • switzerland is admired by many right thinking people and yet they have enacted a more racist and xenophobic law than any law i can think of trump having talked about, much less actually proposed. with 57.5% of the vote the swiss people voted to outlaw the construction of mosque minarets in switzerland. fucking racist white people....try looking up the racial demographics of switzerland if you want a laugh. best i could find was that they're 65% german, 18% french, and 10% italian. 3 shades of white is what passes for racial diversity over there. nazi scum. /sjw
  • i've heard a couple tim ferriss interviews, but never read his books. some of what he says sounds nice enough, but the whole idea just seems like a pipe dream for blue collar workers who are paid to actually work, rather than delegate and decide. no matter how efficient i become, 4 hours of work will never yield the same results as 40 hours of even inefficient and sluggish work. i've got a lot of tools, i've subcontracted and delegated plenty of low level tasks, but there's no way to get shit done if i'm not in the field swinging my hammer. he lives in a dream.
  • as a society we understand that physical work and pain lead to strength. we understand the same for mental work, pain, and fatigue. it doesn't seem like the same concepts transfer to emotional work or pain, however. emotional pain seems to be seen as something to be avoided at all costs. if someone says something that triggers you or makes you upset then the reaction is often to blame them for being callous. for the most part, we avoid movies that make us upset. we don't like being uncomfortable. i think we need to make more of an effort as a society, and as individuals, to become emotionally tough. unfortunately it seems that most of the discussions these days are going in the opposite direction.
  • i consider myself a hard worker, but part of that is because i kinda like the work i do. being under dusty houses and in attics and lying down on splintery wood is uncomfortable and difficult work. that said, for me it's not that hard because i've gotten accustomed to it and i like some aspects of it. the real thing is to work hard at hard work. if being under houses comes naturally to you then it's not really hard work for you. for me, hard work would be doing my taxes and talking to strangers for 40 hours a week. so, maybe i'm not a very hard worker after all.
  • sam harris got himself into a bit of hot water lately by talking about race and IQ. it's a big discussion that goes beyond the obvious stuff so if you want the truth on the kerfuffle then you'll need to spend about 4 hours to get a real idea of what the discussion was about and what the backlash (mostly with ezra klein/vox)was. what's interesting to me in the race stuff is that the questions tend to group around the core issue of blacks vs. whites, with the common questions being something along the lines of "why do blacks earn less than whites?" this is an interesting question and it seems to have a million facets to the answer (unless you're an ideologue, in which case there are typically just 2-3 answers per side). the more interesting question is "why do asians do better than blacks and whites?" asians have a legacy of oppression with the chinese exclusion act under Arthur and japanese concentration camps under FDR. asians were affected by redlining, just as blacks were. and while asian/black histories were still different in some key ways, it's also true that their current realities are vastly different. and while some white immigrant groups faced discrimination (as did asian populations) they are seen as mostly the privileged race, yet they're not doing as well as asians. whites don't make as much money as asians and they don't live as long as asians (or hispanics for that matter). so, what are asians doing that we should learn from? personally i don't buy into the history hypothesis as much as a lot of liberal thinkers do - i don't think that the oppression of our grandparents affects us as much as it's made out. they seem to think it's 80-100% of the equation, and i think it's probably closer to 35% (off the top of my head). so, again, "why are asians doing so well?" is a much more interesting question than "why are blacks not doing so well?"
  • in social science there's a lot of study about happiness. they try to measure it in different ways (self-reported, health outcomes, economic measures, etc.) and they try to craft experiments to nudge people toward greater happiness. but another way of thinking about it isn't to increase happiness, but, rather, to decrease unhappiness/suffering. i think these are different things and it's actually worth looking into the latter more than the former. happiness is a tough nut to crack, but lessening unhappiness seems easier. i bring this up because i'm generally leaning more towards the question of how to decrease suffering/unhappiness, but i'm also interested in the question of asian success. probably just because i'm a contrarian.
  • one rule that seems to hold in life is that you are the company you keep. you see this repeatedly reinforced in study after study. recidivism rates are highest amongst those who go back with their old friends after they get out of jail. they find that overweight people gain weight as their partners gain weight. drug addicts are more likely to relapse when they hang out with their drug addict friends. this is all very obvious stuff, and yet somehow people (at least the ones who need to learn the lesson most) don't seem to get it. i don't need to be with people so it's generally been pretty easy for me to not hang out with people who are bad news. i suppose it's harder for people who need attention and human interaction more.
  • meryl was driving down the street today and she saw a grown many punch a 4 year old in the face. wound up and punched him in the face like he was trying to knock him out; in public. she called the cops and followed the guy for a bit, but lost him and the cops came too late. probably won't get the guy. his wife or baby mama or whatever was there also and she apparently didn't even flinch. this guy is human garbage. i know that, in a way, he was probably just punching himself. his dad did it to him when he was 4 and now this 4 year old will do it to his kid. this is the most likely scenario. regardless of what has happened to this guy in the past, though, he's now a grown man punching a 4 year old so he's garbage. i probably would have done the same thing as meryl - call the cops and try to follow him in the car. but there's a strong part of me that knows i have a framing hammer in my truck and i wouldn't mind intervening in a situation like that. there's part of me that really would want to do that and there's part of me that's proud of the fact that i probably wouldn't, and there's yet another part of me that's really upset that i probably wouldn't. i guess if i had my way i'd just like to talk to the guy and convince him to be a better person. i'm sure that would work.

  • a lot has been made of the Australia gun buy back and how that affected their gun homicide rate. here's some interesting reading on it.
     

    4/17/18 (22:23)

  • working on updating my movies pages. lots of backlog.

  • 4/4/18 (19:16)

  • not my fault, but it is my problem.
  • one of the cool things about malcolm x was how he handled the cards he was dealt. he'd fight racism, but he'd also use it to his advantage. i remember in his autobiography he mentioned a couple times that some whites would think less of him because of his color and he'd use those low expectations against them. using the racism against the racist.
  • i find myself writing a lot about conservative positions on here the last couple years. there are a couple reasons for this.
  • 1. i've always been pretty liberal so, rather than writing about the same stuff over and over again, i find it more interesting to explore the other side of the coin.
  • 2. i assume i have mostly pretty liberal readers so preaching to the choir is fairly uninteresting for all involved.
  • 3. i've become more conservative (relative to society) over time. economically this is definitely true and is because of exposure to new ideas and the realities of owning my own business and seeing the economy through a new lens. here's my progression over the last few years:

  • 4. i think it's especially important now to understand what other people are thinking and where they're coming from. i also think it's important to have almost religious integrity on these issues or else you're (in my mind) just another partisan. i really respect the people who can call balls and strikes these days - people who can be honest about the fact that someone on the other side of an issue may have a good point or that maybe my data on an issue isn't as solid as i thought.
  • without understanding i really think we can't have opinions on the issues of the day. but politics are one of the few areas where we feel entitled to an opinion regardless of our expertise. no reasonable people are going to walk into a room and say i think we should kill all the wolves in yellowstone and start feeding the bears meat at feeding stations. because they realize that they're not wildlife biologists. reasonable people are more likely to see what a ranger or wildlife biologist thinks and then form an opinion after that. but everyone feels entitled to give their opinion on policy decisions. regardless of what rights it may take away from law abiding people, regardless of the economic consequences (which they aren't even aware of), etc. this is annoying, but this is what it is.
  • a big part of understanding is listening. i like this podcast which provides a bit of a template for this (novel) concept. the host isn't exactly my kind of guy he's a bit (as he puts sometimes puts it) "snowflakey" and i don't agree with him on plenty of things, but it's a good podcast with a good template for finding common ground or, at least, having a civil discussion.
  • i was listening to the 538 podcast the other day and an academic was relaying his findings on some social study. within a 30 second period (i went back and counted) he said "sort of" a total of 4 times, "kind of" a total of 2 times,' and "like" a total of 10 times. in 30 seconds this is a true accomplishment in hedging and waffling. by the time he was done talking about his findings it was pretty hard to think there was any sort of certainty in his research. if every other word out of your mouth is a hedge against what you're about to say then it doesn't instill much confidence. we kinda found that some people sorta didn't prefer voting for like democrats because they like were unsure that they like were going to like kinda stick up for the country in times of sorta war or like armed conflict.
  • after the parkland shooting one of the things that got a bit of press is that FL legislators were working on a bill to treat porn like a public health risk. as the wapo put it "Florida House refuses to debate guns, declares porn dangerous." this got laughs and headshakes on the left. i agree that they should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. however, that wasn't really the argument that was being put forward. a lot of people seemed to think it was just a ridiculous notion that porn should be considered at all bad, or worthy of discussion (Democratic Rep. Smith from FL called it a waste of time, for example). what this headline and general assertion signals to right thinking liberals and democrats is that the puritanical republicans are at it again. unfortunately it's divorced from reality. i looked at some of the bill text and it's really not all that controversial. i'd actually argue it's something many people would support if they considered the subject for half a second and thought about it beyond just the headline that the WaPo put out there. and, actually, i'm more concerned about the affect of porn on my kids than i am on the affect of guns. and it's not even close. percent of kids killed by guns: .0017% (1,300/74.2 million). percent of kids exposed to porn who may need some context, education, or increased prevention to decrease or forestall inevitable exposure: 90% (my guess).
  • a majority of pro-life activists are women. kinda flies in the face of the argument that men are trying to run women's lives. interesting finding that has held true since a study in 1981 (at least). they're also mostly white and (not surprisingly) religious.
  • i listen to a lot of podcasts. last month i listened to almost 8 days worth of content. i have a great app (podcast addict) that skips all the silences and i listen to everything at 1.3 speed. i wish people in real life spoke that fast.
  • hispanic and native american women are more likely to be in college than white men, and black women are equally likely as white men. facts sometimes make it difficult to believe in a patriarchy, but i'll keep trying.
  • the cambridge analytical scandal was big news for a bit. it sorta became a facebook scandal. from the research i've done the story is basically that facebook setup their contracts to allow people to use the data for research, but not commercial purposes. they never really followed up on this to make sure this is what was happening. that data was "acquired by CA" and there may be a scandal or wrongdoing in the acquisition. i don't think facebook is to blame, per se. i'm not on FB so i don't have a dog in this race. at the alumni house we had a meeting once that was very much along the lines of what CA was doing. basically we hired a firm to get data on a bunch of alumni. the firm would group these people in these categories with silly names that i can't remember like "outdoorsy with money" and a bunch of others. that data was gleaned from purchase habits and magazine subscriptions so it's not as good as the FB data, but this was several years ago. the CA stuff is just a progression of the exact same stuff.
  • i think this became a scandal because trump was sorta involved in this because he used CA to help him in key states. first of all, what CA was doing wasn't all that revolutionary. second, if it was then why didn't it work for ted cruz, who also hired CA? hillary, obama and others have used similar data...this is just the natural progression, and the only bad part of this is how CA acquired the data (without direct consent).
  • if you care about your privacy then you really shouldn't be on FB and you should try to get your friends to leave FB as well. FB probably knows a lot about me because meryl mentions me (i assume) and so they've already got data on me.
  • the more i learn about the economy the more i have a hard time viewing things as simplistically as i once did. i used to be more susceptible to looking at private equity firms like mitt romney's as bad news all around. they come in, fire a bunch of people, and then leave with a bunch of profits. evil! then you realize that big pensions rely heavily on investments in, among other things, private equity firms. pensions for public employees, unions, etc. so, maybe now you can't think of them as quite so evil. the other social good they perform is to take marginal or failing firms and make them stronger. it's not pleasant, but it's a fact that sometimes a big company needs to fire 5% of its work force to stay viable and save the other 95%. is it better for a company to stay marginally profitable until a crisis occurs and then go out of business (thereby firing 100% of its workforce) or to fire 5% of its workforce in order to stay competitive and stable for the long term? should people with the ability to make these strategic decisions do the work for free? is there a value to the work they provide?
  • in the abstract it's clear to me that private equity firms can have a very favorable effect on society and the economy. in practice that's sometimes painful and sometimes it comes with excess profits to people like romney, but let's not paint with such a broad brush.
  • doesn't seem like there are a lot of principles in politics. maybe it's always been this bad, don't know. it really kills me to see the same people/parties on both sides of an argument as it suits their interests. there are a million examples of the hypocrisy exhibited by democrats and republicans (and those who vote for them). remember when romney was derided for calling russia the number one foreign policy threat in his debate with obama? now what do democrats think about russia? is anyone apologizing for getting that wrong?
  • from atlantic...germany on abortion: "women seeking first-trimester abortions are subject to a mandatory three-day waiting period and a counseling session. Abortions after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are forbidden except in cases of grave threat to the mother's physical or mental health."
  • finland on abortion: " abortion is available up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, unless the woman is under 17 years old, in which case she may have an abortion until she's 20 weeks pregnant. But even for early abortions, women must provide a "social reason" for seeking to terminate her pregnancy, such as poverty, extreme distress, or already having at least four children. While in practice most abortion requests are granted, it still forces women to prove to an authority the validity of their desire not to have a baby"

  • denmark on abortion: "abortion is available on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Afterward, exceptions are made for cases of rape, threats to the woman's physical or mental health, risk of fetal defects, and -- revealingly -- in cases where the woman can demonstrate lack of financial resources to care for a child."
     

    03/14/18 (21:20)

  • tough to keep up these days. lots of work going on.
  • gave ethan a raise the other day and talked about safety being very important because worker's comp. insurance is costing me $10k/year. 3 days later he cut his hand and needed 15 stitches. i always have a first aid kid on site and i had a packet of quick clot in the truck so the bleeding stopped real fast. drove him to the er and was there for 4 hours. he was changing the blade on the circular saw and, while holding the allen wrench, managed to hit the safety and trigger thus causing the saw to turn on and turn the allen wrench in his hand - which tore it up pretty good. he went into shock as i was getting him into the truck, but we talked about stuff on the way there and i managed to keep him awake. i think he passed out a couple times while i was parking the truck though. he'll be okay, but i'm a man down now with 3 projects in full swing and several little jobs that i can't manage to get out of.
  • overall i'm happy that it wasn't worse. i was fully prepared and the er was close enough that i could drive him there quick. he feels real bad about it. i think it'll be a good learning experience going forward and hopefully remind him to take everything very seriously. worst injury i ever had was working for someone else. cut my finger pretty good with the reciprocating saw. probably could have used a couple stitches, but i managed to avoid it. other than that i've been pretty lucky so far. little injuries are kind of inevitable, so you just have to minimize the risk as much as possible. in the meantime i'm paying him (trying to avoid a worker's comp claim) and keeping him busy reading safety manuals and the like.
  • after spending half the day at the er i drove him back to his truck (which we keep at home depot during the day - convenient location, need to stop there anyway, lots of cameras, lots of traffic) only to find that it had been broken into. i paid for him to get his windows tinted and he always covers all the tools with a blanket. and yet someone still broke into the truck in broad daylight and made off with probably $2500 worth of my tools. it was a great day. biggest money losing day of my life. he's out of money-making commission for a couple weeks, i lose a bunch of tools, and my insurance will definitely be going up. good times.
  • there are times in life when something isn't your fault, but it's your problem. i think this is a concept that seems to fading in society. first of all, not many people take responsibility of their own lives so, to them, virtually nothing is their fault. secondly, the idea that something that isn't your fault could be your problem to deal with just doesn't seem fair. people seem almost obsessed with the idea of fairness lately and this plays out a lot in identity politics, but that's another story. the concept of fairness is nice, but can really only be very narrowly applied. say, zoe get to play with a toy, then it's only fair that merritt also gets a toy. beyond that i'm not sure how much we should really spend time worrying about fairness. things aren't fair. if you're in a position to make them fair for good reason, then do it. if not, then you need to move on with life. there are plenty of times when shit on the jobsite isn't my fault, but becomes my problem. that's the job. that's life, too. i've spent energy worrying about it and it never does any good.
  • there should be a website for uncomfortable facts, just to trigger people a little and rile them up. not really sure why some facts upset people. so long as the facts are real, i don't see a problem. i'm a truth fundamentalist, though. the truth, as much as we can know it, is a good unto itself. there's important context and all that, but a simple fact shouldn't be upsetting. most serial killers are white men. most kkk members would rather vote for trump than hillary. women have a lower workforce participation rate than men. blacks as a group have a lower iq than asians as a group.
  • "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." - alice walker
  • "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - eleanor roosevelt
  • these are two quotes from two feminists who i think most people probably look up to in some way. it's interesting to see where they place the emphasis in these two well-known quotes - on the individual. it's not outward facing - about society or oppressors. it's about the agency you have within to make yourself feel equal. or the power that you have, but may be foolishly discarding. these aren't quotes about victimhood. they're quotes about personal agency.
  • on bill maher's show the other day he had salman rushdie and rushdie responded to a question about mass shootings. maher asked something like why are these shootings happening so much now? rushdie said "one word - guns." he went onto say that we have too many guns in this country. it's a really simple answer and it sounds like it makes sense and it's easy to pin things on guns, but anytime someone says the answer is as simple as one word i think you have to be highly skeptical (especially if you happen to agree with them). in reality, gun ownership has declined over the past 40 years. there are more guns than ever, but there are more people than ever. and the people who own guns now tend to own more guns than they did in the past. it's really not as simple as more guns = more mass shootings. bowling for columbine addressed this almost 20 years ago and people still seem to think it's just a gun issue.
  • so, that's one part of my frustration over this issue. i wish people on the left could be more honest and open to information about guns, but that's probably not happening any time soon. the other part of the frustration is that we really need to have common sense about the topic. normal people should be able to have guns (as many as they want), but they should have to pass some basic tests to make sure they're not nuts. private sellers should have to leave some paper trail and check to make sure that the buyer isn't a nut job. these are basic reforms that i think most people agree on, but of course haven't happened yet. part of that is because of the NRA. it's also because of a conservative fear of the slippery slope. "who determines mental fitness?" "if you go after ar-15s today, why won't you go after hand guns tomorrow?" these are valid concerns (though liberals probably wouldn't concede this). as i've said before, ar-15s aren't he problem when it comes to annual gun deaths - hand guns are. if you're outlawing ar-15s, then it seems like you'd be morally justified in outlawing hand guns. legally, not so much, but morally it would follow that ar-15s kill a handful each year and hand guns kill thousands, so... as you can see, it doesn't take much for a conservative gun enthusiast to think that his hand gun might be the next thing to be outlawed 5, 10, 25 years from now. tough topic (despite the chatter to the contrary from both sides, which seem to think it's pretty fucking obvious that guns are evil or that gun rights shouldn't be infringed).
  • god made man and samuel colt made them equal.
  • something i've been talking to the girls about a lot lately is the relationship between freedom and responsibility. with more freedom comes more responsibility. when you're free to go to the bathroom on your own it means you're responsible for wiping your own ass and washing your own hands. when you get to drive it means you are responsible for operating the vehicle in a safe way. the same goes for guns or a variety of other things in life. the trouble is that humans want freedom, but they eschew responsibility. it will be a life long lesson, so i figured i'd start with them early. with every new freedom comes a new responsibility. with great power comes great responsibility.
  • are people still thinking about oprah as president? god, this shit kills me. the answer to one unqualified celebrity president is another? she's given dr. phil, jenny mccarthy, and dr. oz a platform. i think that's disqualifying enough. jesus, people.
  • 5% of the population owns almost 75% of the stocks.
  • people (including me) talk a lot about big corporate power. the funny thing is, though, that a lot of these big companies aren't as durable as we might think. i think about microsoft being the unquestioned 800lb gorilla in tech when i was growing up. they still have a decent market cap, but it's google, amazon, and facebook that rule now. the government did part of that by cracking down on them. but if you look at the fortune 500 from 1955 to 2016, only 12% of firms stayed on the list in that 61 year period. new firms are constantly rising and falling and absorbing others.

  • “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” - einstein (supposedly). this always struck me as a bit of an exaggeration. i mean, there are other pollinators on earth. maybe not in the same numbers (?) or maybe not quite as good (?), but surely honey bees can't be that important. then as you age and learn more about the world you find out that honey bees didn't even exist in the u.s. until the evil europeans brought them here. yup, honey bees are a non-native species. i guess north america was a barren wasteland until that moment. thanks for all the edible plants in north america european settlers. thank you very much.
     

    02/24/18 (09:19)

  • big news lately has been the FL school shooting. as a result gun control has been the talk of the moment. hopefully something gets done this time. i think it's clear that most people think there are some areas of agreement on the issue of universal background checks and some weapons that shouldn't be allowed into the hands of most people. unfortunately this is an issue that a lot of people just don't think clearly about at all. they do a lot of "thinking" with their feelings and that really works against any common sense.
  • there's also a lot of b.s. and lies out there that make people look foolish and make the cause look like an ideological one, instead of one based on reason. if we're going to hold trump to a standard of telling the truth and science as guides, then shouldn't we do the same? seems pretty obvious and yet people go after assault rifles as if they were a major problem (THEY AREN'T). they say things like there have been 18 school shootings this year (FALSE) and they truly believe these lies. they might as well be saying "another liberal told me that there were 18 school shootings this year so i trusted them." personally, i've been through this on both sides of the coin and found that lies and ideology are so pervasive that you need to be skeptical of basically everything everyone says (especially) when it comes to hot button issues like this.
  • and people wonder why i don't pay attention to the news every day like i used to....because if you're following the news of today every day then you're getting lies. follow the news a week after it happens and you're much more likely to get the proper context and facts. then there are guys like this who seemingly lay down the law, and it seems really poignant and powerful and like the truth we need until you maybe think about it (instead of just react to it with your anger) for half a second....just let your brain do some work, please. the dude is straight up making gun violence a race issue. how fucked are we as a country if this kind of thing is okay and seen as inspiring? he points out that all these schools shooters are whites (off the top of my head the worst school shooting was done by an asian, but whatever, asians just have to be the best at everything [haha]). so, are we, as reasonable people who maybe even hold his same view that guns are evil and schools shootings must stop, going to call him on his racializing the issue? or are we going to just let it slide because we agree that guns are bad? and if you let is slide then congratulations because now you have no moral leg to stand on when the next guy points out that muslims contribute to a disproportionate amount of terrorism. "but but but all the liberal media outlets i read/listen to have told me that whites have committed more terrorist acts than muslims." this is true, but muslims are a much smaller portion of the population (1% of total u.s. population) than whites so they actually committ terror acts at a greater rate. same goes for total gun murders which are committed more by blacks with hand guns than whites with ar-15s. and this is what happens when we go down this identity politics rabbit hole and ignore facts. white news anchor blames gun violence in schools on whites and leftist media outlets (on the heels of charlotesville) eagerly point out that white supremacist groups commit a lot of terrorist acts.
  • and where has this conversation gotten us? well, hopefully you have more facts and can direct your rage at real issues. when i see the glut of lies and misdirection i feel like i have to set the record straight so now i'm in the unenviable position of pointing out that more than half of gun deaths are suicides and, of the murders, those are carried out overwhelmingly by blacks. but, overall, the discussion seems really muddy because people aren't talking about realy and they're not doing any listening whatsoever. liberals don't understand why a person would ever want a gun (i've heard many of them say "guns serve no good purpose" or "guns only serve to kill people."). it's a contradiction that liberals are supposed to value listening and empathy and yet they do very little listening when it comes to some hot button issues like this. how about asking someone who has a gun why they have it, why they want to keep it, what purpose it serves, what safety precautions they take, what they think about current laws, etc. this approach works for all these issues, of course. listen first. understand where the other person it coming from. then feel free to disagree, but not before then.

  • a similar perspective from one of the outlets that actually cares about facts.

    1/12/18 (16:37)


    1/6/18 (19:12)

  • i may have written about this before...there's a study that found that people listening to a story had different brain activity than people telling the story...at first. after a while, the listener's brain activity would match up with the person telling the story. this is in keeping with the theory of hypnosis that scott adams talks about when he talks about the success of trump. i've heard adams on a few podcasts talk about the power of hypnosis (apparently he's a student of it) and how he thought trump would win because of his understanding of its principles. interesting stuff. depressing stuff.
  • was working the other day and i parked in the customer's driveway. i came out to the truck to get something and noticed this guy in a wheelchair trying to get around the truck without success. i quickly said i'm sorry and i'll move the truck. he said "i'm not worried - working man pays my social security." that dude made my day.
  • it sure seems as thought chiropractic and acupuncture are dog and pony shows that only have any effect when it comes to subjective measures like pain. they've shown that pain can be reduced by simply spending more time with patients. it sure makes sense, then, that fancy charts that show where your chi flows, along with an elaborate ceremony and exotic asian doctor, could help with the subjective issue of pain management.
  • it's amazing how many different world views a person can have. first, there are a lot of views that seek to explain the majority of what we may encounter in society. but, second, there's so much experience out there that there's actually enough evidence and data to support some number of these worldviews if you just view the world through that lens long enough. so, for example, a person might view the world through the lens of the myers-briggs personality types. they could tell you that trump is an ESFP (making that up) and that ESFP types do well in popularity contests when cynicism is high. this person could view the entire world through this lens of personality types as defined by myers-briggs and probably explain why people act the way they do, why our society is how it is, etc. another person could use astrology and do the same thing. another person could view everything through a racial lens and they could see racism left and right and they could explain everything that way. this person exists and his name is david duke, and also ta-nehisi coates.
  • it's actually an interesting exercise to think like one of these people for a day. just read up on personality types or read what a person says about the world and view the world that way for a while. everything can be explained by race or by personal choices or by the restrictions on freedom. everything is the fault of corporations or big government or white culture or whatever. it's very easy to find a few facts throughout the day that confirm that bias. if you keep studying one of these worldviews and keep looking for this stuff then you will find it. cult leaders can concoct the most outrageous worldviews that get adopted because they have enough truth with enough dumb people to make sense. scientology is a great example. when i was studying nietzsche this was true. you start to view the world in terms like apollonian and dionysian. you think about the will-to-power. you think about living life as an artist or a lion or whatever. his philosophy makes a lot of sense and explains a lot and you see it more and more if you look for it.
  • but that's the point - if you look for something you'll find it. i believe in the way of no ways, which is really the way of all ways. this is the bruce lee philosophy. all these worldviews have some truth to them and some are more useful than others, but none of them is perfect. and the fact that so many of them can be so intoxicating is a warning that we can fool ourselves into thinking anything. i think the only way around it is to actively seek out different points of view. if you're a liberal then reading the nation every week isn't helping you. if you're a conservative then going to breitbart or reading the national review isn't doing much good either. we should actively seek out different opinions, but not only to have them flow through our mind long enough to piss on them. instead we should cogitate on those ideas for a few days. view the world as a conservative does. and i'm not talking about a straw man conservative...."howdy there you libtard, i like guns, telling women what they can do with their bodies, and i believe in the literal interpretation of the Lord Jesus!" i'm talking about a steel man. you only know if you disagree with a worldview or given proposal after hearing the strongest argument that that worldview has to offer.
  • speaking of worldviews...i find that a lot of scientists (especially in the social sciences) get enamored with a particular point of view that explains the world. the problem is of course what i've already written about - they engage in confirmation bias and reject or forget anything that doesn't comport with this view. a lot of times you talk with these people and they're very certain that they understand how everything works. of course this is what you want from an expert, but it's also somewhat alarming to hear from someone who is supposed to be a scientist. i remember asking johnny about his opinion about some social things while we were on the glacier. there were several times when he said he didn't have enough information to form an opinion on the issue. this is the kind of thing you don't tend to hear from the academics (or people) i've encountered. you'll very infrequently hear pundits say they don't know about something or have mixed thoughts or need more information to comment. it can be frustrating during a conversation, but it's actually the perfect answer for a scientist to give. "we have a high degree of confidence about this, but don't have enough data on this other thing." or... "the current science suggests x,y, and z." vs. "x, y, and z are true and anyone who says otherwise doesn't know anything."
  • back in the early 60s they found that a low fat diet was best. in 1980 the federal government codified this and it had a domino effect...the recommendations go out to schools, prisons, etc. food companies market and develop new foods based upon these guidelines. what ends up happening is that fat is seen as the enemy and carbs take their place. carbs are at the bottom of the pyramid and make up the majority of the ideal diet according to the leading scientists and the federal government. butter is bad, margarine is good. red meat is bad, pasta is a low fat food. diabetes increases and scientists can't really explain it. now it sure seems as though that diet was a bad idea. michael pollan's general attitude is that we should eat real food and that makes a lot of sense to me. part of this, though, is that we end up avoiding a lot of these fake and processed foods that seem to have been a response to the low fat recommendation. things like crackers and chips and margarine - all of which are process, all of which have carbs or oils instead of natural animal fats, which i contend are good for you. i'm not a huge proponent of the ketogenic diet or atkins or paleo, but i do generally think that carbs are a major issue in our diets and that there's nothing wrong with a high fat or high protein diet. i'll concede that some health risks may increase with those diets (colon cancer or prostate cancer or something), but that those risks are probably outweighed by the benefits of lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, lower weight, etc. this is another example of believing a certain worldview, the possibility of scientists getting it wrong, and the trouble with confirmation bias.
  • what story do you tell yourself about yourself? how does that affect how you live going forward? i think this is a huge deal with a lot of people who are stuck in a rut. change the outlook, change the outcome. it's something i see a lot. someone might feel down about themselves, they try once or twice and they fail and that confirms that trying isn't worth it. once or twice isn't enough data. i've written before about the percentages you need in life vs. what you need in other areas. if you hit the ball in baseball 40% of the time you're the best hitter in history. if you miss 60% of the time in life then you'll be living in the streets.
  • it's way easier today than ever before to live a decent life. i've written before about the fact that there are certain soft skills that basically all derive from effort and don't really need a lot of teaching - they just need sufficient motivation. but if you couple effort with an internet connection it's possible to live a very decent middle class life in this country regardless of your background (assuming sufficient mental and physical capacity). basically any question you may have about how to live your life, what to do with your money, how to get a good job and keep it, how to develop a budget, what cars are reliable, etc. can be answered online. go to reddit, ask the question and do whatever the most upvoted reply is. search for others who have had similar questions. it's very unlikely that you will go wrong if you stick to implementing the suggestions of the crowd. knowing what to do is really not an excuse anymore. it sure seems as though not putting forth the effort is the biggest hindrance to modest success today.
  • 1/3 of millennials say it's essential to live in a democracy versus 2/3 of non-millennials.
  • one beef i have with a lot of reporting is the lazy modifiers and adjectives they use. they'll write things like "most millennials don't think it's essential to live in a democracy." okay, that's somewhat informative, but what's the number? is it 53% or 88%? big difference, but both would be accurately described as "most." basically the editors are asleep at the wheel here. a basic rule should be "don't use a general or broad word when a specific one can be substituted." presumably if you're saying "most millennials..." then you have at your disposal the actual number...so give us the actual number. another one is "some people might say" which is kinda useful, but also lazy. if you're a reporter then i think you need to be better than that. instead of "some people might say that this bill will increase the debt." say "university of arizona economist joe blow says that this bill could increase the debt according to the chicago school of economic philosophy." there's a lot of this kind of writing. not sure if it's always been this way.
  • i used to think that being a sell out was one of the worst things you could be. if you were a musician and you did something for money then you weren't to be respected. this is a prevalent opinion and i'm not sure why it's so appealing to so many. art and commerce aren't supposed to go together i guess...and we wonder why people are starving artists...and then the starving artists complain that they're starving and then they complain when someone sells out (does well, which is exactly what most artists would actually want). it's a strange, non-sensical dynamic. i think within the "selling out" argument there is a grain of goodness and that is the idea that the artist shouldn't be swayed by market forces. that is, they shouldn't change their art for money. it stems from the idea that the artist should be pure, i suppose.



  • 1/2/18 (19:36)
  • one day later than my goal, but i finally got it done. became a general contractor today. paperwork finally went through and i'm official. feels pretty good.
  • pac-12 stank it up big time this bowl season. big 10 looked real good other than michigan blowing a good lead. none of the 4 teams in the playoffs are appealing to me. i picked OK to beat AL and that didn't work out. i figured that, with a new coach, OK would get their shit together finally. nope, they still found a way to choke during the bowl season.
  • obviously USC was a disappointment. the o line continued to be a problem and it made us look really bad. poor showing.
  • now that ethan is with us full time and i'm a GC, i'm basically turning away all small jobs from now on. it's just finally become too much of a pain in the ass. if there are some easy layups and ethan needs some work then i'll send him to take care of it, but that's pretty much it.
  • as luke pointed out the other day this blog has now been continuously updated for 20+ years. this is the 21st calendar year of me writing in here. for a long time it didn't really have much of a point. lately it's got a lot of political and social stuff on it. overall, though, i think the best thing about it is that my kids will be able to read it and learn about their dad in a pretty unusual way. plenty of stuff in here that probably isn't flattering because i've never edited it, but maybe that's for the better so they can see me as a real person who has/had flaws and grappled with all sorts of things over the years. some pretty immature ramblings in there so it's always good to go back and check myself from time to time.
  • this weekend we had two 1 year old birthday parties. one was a friend of meryl's and the other was luke's daughter so we went to santa cruz. had fun at the boardwalk afterwards. since it was the last day of the year a woman was using the last of her coupons from a season pass and she gave us 3 wrist bands and a half off parking coupon. i attribute the freebie to luke since he sent us and he's the freebie magnet.
  • a couple things i've been thinking about a lot lately.
  • one is how different cultural norms or values shape individuals and populations. so, one culture might value hard work and another might value having a good time. one might be lax when it comes to drugs and alcohol and another might think they're to be avoided at all costs. same goes for people on an individual level. do you teach your kids to keep a regular bed time or do they stay up with you until midnight? do you talk to your kids a lot or ignore them? when you talk do you only tell them to stop doing annoying things or do you offer positive reinforcement? do you let them eat whatever they want or do you think your body is your temple? do you and your culture emphasize the importance of academics or sports?
  • thinking about the importance of culture is something conservatives do a lot more than liberals and i think it's a valuable insight that is missed. there are societal things that we can't change that may have some impact on our lives, but then there are cultural and individual norms and choices that we have a lot more influence over. what things do you focus on and what does that say about you? are you focused on the society level hurdles that you face or are you focused on the things you can change? does the culture and community you're a part of value looking good or looking smart? is bravado and "face" more important than rational behavior or good outcomes? is success applauded or met with derision and jealousy? if you work 90 hours a week is that seen as a good thing or excessive? if you haven't looked for work in weeks are you seen as a deadbeat or is it no big deal? what's the right mix of all these values? what cultures and populations do what things right and what things do they have wrong?
  • one fact of life is that our larger american culture basically is what it is. it will move a bit over time and that's sometimes for the better and sometimes not. but, on the smaller level, we can't lament our lot in life as many do. it's really easy to say "well, if only our culture didn't value money/work/economics/individual determination/etc. so much i'd be much better off." this is the argument some will use to justify where they find themselves. i'm not saying that we value all the best things in the world, but the system is what it is. you can't sit around and cry about it. it's basically an if ifs and buts were candies and nuts type argument that they use. "if artists were valued as highly as hedge fund managers then i'd be a billionaire" type reasoning. it's a nice sentiment and, to some extent, our culture is arbitrary in its rewarding certain people/skills/services...and it's not only arbitrary, but i don't think the compensation in society is always aligned with our best ideals...but that's the world we live in. ultimately, we live in the world and have to find a way to make things work within it. we can't yell into the ether and expect it to change around us.
  • the other thing i've been thinking about a lot is the role of time in social sciences. i was talking to my mom the other day about the tax package and basically said that she's rich and she pushed back on that and said that it wasn't very nuanced because she lives in the bay area and it's an expensive place to live, etc. etc. etc. but this is the way most people think about things, and frankly it's the fault of both parties...maybe even the democrats more than the republicans. basically to a lot of pundits there are rich people, middle class people and poor people. a lot of times what happens is that all three of those are the same person, but in different periods of their lives. when i was 18-27 i was poor. when i was 28-36 i was middle class. now i'm 38 and i'm rich. i'm the same person, i just finally got to a place in my career that i was able to earn enough money to be considered rich. by rich i mean the top quintile (household earnings of $113k+) on the federal level. this doesn't take into account the fact that my house is worth the median value in the bay area or that 60%+ of our income goes to taxes, housing and childcare. it doesn't take into account the fact that being self-employed means i have to pay 100% of my own payroll taxes.
  • this isn't just about earnings, though, it could be about anything. it could be the idiot at the light who doesn't turn in time because he's distracted by the kids in the car or the phone conversation or whatever. you were that idiot 3 weeks ago.
  • didn't write about our trip to philly....it was our first vacation in 16 months and we went out there for the army/navy game. the girls stayed with grandparents. philly is a good place. good architecture. i liked the sports fans, too. we were able to catch a 76ers game and the fans definitely lived up to the hype. the legend of them throwing snowballs at santa claus was not quite was i experienced, but they're definitely a different breed. lots of hating, even on their own team members, and some rowdy, loudmouth characters. mets fans are still the best, but philly fans are pretty awesome too. there was actually a lakers fan next to meat the game who wouldn't shut up. most people were annoyed by him, but i was laughing the whole time. i gave him some shit when things started getting close and was calling traveling on the fakers players and all the rest. it was a good time giving him a hard time.
  • the army/navy game was pretty cold at 30 degrees. it snowed and the fans definitely were enthusiastic. i saw one trump hat in the crowd which isn't too bad for an army/navy game.
  • we also went to eastern state penitentiary which is a hub style prison that was hugely influential for prison design and ideology. it was also unusual for today because the prison was in the city, not the exurbs. very photogenic as well. they have a great audio tour and some good exhibits about the prison system and the criminal justice system. i've written about this before, including pretty recently. basically i think we need criminal justice reform and both parties should agree on this. also, as they pointed out, and i've pointed out as well, both parties are to blame for the injustice we've perpetrated on our citizens for too long. they also reaffirmed what i've written about regarding private prisons not being a significant portion of the problem and the same goes for non-violent drug offenders...they're just a very small portion of the total population yet they get talked about all the time as supposedly being the reason our prison population is so high. they pointed out our prison population relative to other countries and the rise over time. if you care about personal liberty then you should care about this issue. if you care about racial justice then you should care about this issue. if you care about gender inequalities then you should care about this issue...unfortunately "gender inequality" almost always means women being oppressed, when in fact men are given much higher sentences and go to prison at a higher rate. not sure why people are upset by these facts when you compare blacks to whites, but when you compare men to women they get silent. anyway, it was a great place.
  • we also visited NYC while we were there. we were only there 4 days, but we fit a lot in. we went to the 9/11 memorial first thing in the morning before many people were there. i had no expectations for this, but it was a really moving experience. you walk up to the memorial and it's a large square pool with water that disappears into a deep well that appears bottomless. it's just so simple and clear and plainly symbolic that i couldn't help but be moved by it. it's not pretentious in any way. the negative space is just so harrowing and present... it's perfect, and probably the best single art installation i've ever seen.



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