"How fortunate for
governments that the people they administer don't think."
"Only two things are
infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the
Presidential debate #1 was last night.
Missed the first 45 minutes or so, but what I saw was a totally childish
shit show. Watching from the beginning now, but I doubt it'll do much to
sway my views.
There's a saying that goes something
like "Don't wrestle with a pig. You'll both get dirty, but the pig will
like it." That's basically what we had here. It's back to the Hitler quote
about needing to become fascist to defeat fascism. Biden called Trump a
clown and a fool and broke norms left and right. Of course he was just
following Trump, but this is what happens. Ratcheting to the breaking point.
Ratchets only go one direction.
to get a raise in construction. Good video that applies to most professions
I would guess. Solve problems, prove your worth, don't bring headaches.
I never got this when I was an employee because I was just there for a
wage. I think that's a failure of most employers. Employers should try
to give employees a reason to care. Employees should seek to prove their
worth and make life easier for their boss. Should be a symbiotic relationship,
but usually it's just full of mistrust. Employees often feel exploited.
Employers often feel like employees are lazy/just there to collect a check.
Another example of people telling you
what you should be doing with your life and telling you what decisions
you should be making is the move to make Uber, Lyft, etc. have all the
people who work for them be employees instead of independent contractors.
We'll see how it shakes out, but it's possible that the companies will
pull out where that becomes law. All those people who willingly do the
work now would be without that option. A lot of these laws run the risk
of cutting off your nose to spite your face. We know what you need even
if you don't.
for the following. The best indicator of COVID spread, imo, is the
death rate per 1m. By this measure the worst states are: (in order) NJ,
NY, MA, CT, LA, RI, MI, DC, AZ, MI, IL. I don't like the raw numbers because
they don't adjust for population size. I don't like the active cases or
recovered cases or total tests because those aren't testing the thing that
matters the most. Tests could indicate that you have a lot of problems
(so, the US has tested way more, even adjusted for population, than South
Korea because SK doesn't have the same spread we do. They don't have to
test as much because the problem isn't as big. On the other hand, you want
to see lots of tests instead of burying your head in the sand). Active
case and recovered cases rely upon tests and that's somewhat subject to
political will and infrastructure. Deaths are much harder to hide and most
likely to be a fair representation of what's actually going on. Plus, they
are the most important thing to measure.
So, of the 10 states (plus DC), 2 are
legitimately Republican. AZ is a purple state that is currently projected
for Biden, but it has a Republican governor, so let's say it's Republican.
So, 3/11 are Republican. Does this matter? Does this comport with the media
narrative? Of the 17 states/territories above the national average of 640
deaths per 1 million people, 4 of the states are solidly Republican. AZ
and FL are purple, but let's call those Republican. 6 out of 17 are Republican
If you look at the 10 states with the
lowest death rate 5/10 are Republican (AL, WY, WV, MT, UT). I'd say 2 of
the other 5 are purple (WI and ME). The remaining 3 are Democrat (HI, VT,
OR). The obvious thing to notice is that the spread out and isolated areas
have a lower death rate and also tend to be more Republican.
A lot of Southern states have greater
Black population and are Republican and are getting a lot of positive tests,
but the death rate isn't as high as it was in NY, NJ, CT...at least so
far. What's going on there? Republicans are supposed to be bad on COVID
(not encouraging masks and distancing, denying its very existence, etc.),
the South is supposed to have bad healthcare, Blacks are supposed to die
at a greater rate, the South is getting a lot of active cases (if you sort
active cases by population the top ten are: LA, MI, FL, AL, AZ, GA, SC,
TN, ND, IA...that's 7/10 in the South)....yet despite all this the South
isn't getting the same deaths that NY, NJ, MA, CT got. Have we learned
that much about how to treat it? Is population density the primary driver?
NJ death rate per million is 1,829. LA death rate per million is 1,185.
CA, just for comparison, is 402. Spain is 620. France is 489. Germany is
114. South Korea is 8. No country in the world is as bad as NY, NJ, MA,
or CT. Can we really blame Trump for the high death rate in these four
Democrat strongholds? I think an honest person would have a hard time doing
that. Surely he's a part of it, though.
For a long time our death rate was better
than a lot of European countries like UK, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium,
etc. Those days are gone as we seem to have not learned from the early
mistakes. Sad! Honestly, though, the thing that kills me the most is that
it's not a partisan issue. I really do wish that it were as simple as "Republicans
are bad and Democrats are good. Democrats are good at running the country
so we just need more Democrats." Unfortunately Democrats continually prove
that they are only marginally better than Republicans. Whether it's keeping
their extreme wing under control, maintaining basic law and order, running
schools, keeping citizens safe when something like COVID comes along, etc.
Got a call from my GL insurance auditor
who said he wanted to come to my house to take pictures of my home office.
WTF? I asked about this and he said it was SOP. I said I'm a general contractor.
He said it's SOP. I ask my broker and she said it was fine. I schedule
date with him. He calls the day before we're supposed to meet and now says
he doesn't need to come to my office, but needs to see a job site. WTF?
Why can't people do their job correctly? It's obvious no one would want
to see the computer on my desk. How did I find this odd, but he didn't?
Now I need to scramble to find him a job site on 14 hours notice.
Finished a big bathroom renovation that
we had going for a few months. It was actually 3 bathrooms and a laundry
room and it was made longer by COVID and some bad plumbing, etc. Glad to
be done with it. Picky customers.
Also finished a deck that was for another
picky customer. He made me change out the same section of railing 3 times
because he didn't like the wood. It's wood. It has knots and imperfections.
If you want the nicer stuff then pay for the clear heart or get plastic
crap. I just don't understand people sometimes.
Really don't want to be in people's houses
anymore worrying about protecting their precious flooring and catering
to their idiotic whims. Much prefer installing hundreds of feet worth of
fencing for good money.
This fencing project we did was for a
storage facility that was getting broken into every month so they finally
had me quote them on installing 650' of new expanded metal fencing. It's
right along the train tracks so we had to deal with homeless people, a
stray dog, making sure we dodged the needles and condoms, but it was nice
to just work instead of having to deal with tenants and homeowners.
I don't relisten to many podcasts (though
I have almost 200 saved for posterity), but I listened to the Carlin podcast
again. I think he does a good job of articulating a position that I very
much agree with. As stated below, he's a non-partisan guy by nature and
I relate a lot. It's really disappointing to see where we are as a society
right now. I think a lot of people understand it as a political problem,
but I disagree. I believe Steve Bannon (for all this faults) is a pretty
smart guy on some things and he really nailed the fact that politics is
downstream from culture. You can't change the political institutions or
policies or obscure senate rules and expect society to change. It has to
be the other way around.
I should probably rewatch "Adaptation."
I remember thinking it was all about selling out when I watched it. As
I get older, though, I see the wisdom in being able to change your mind.
I've changed my position on many things. If you haven't changed your mind
on big things what does that say about you? 1) You got it all perfectly
correct right out of the womb (congrats). 2) You're in the wrong on some
things and unable to change.
It's no surprise that Christians raise
Christians. Democrats raise Democrats. etc. etc. So, if you're one of those
people (like I once was to some extent) who takes some pride in not changing
(a tree in a windstorm, to be generous), then perhaps it's time to rethink
A lot of the people I've encountered
who dislike guns the most are the people who have hardly even seen one
in real life. Not sure if I've gone over this before... But if there's
something you don't have any real experience with and you want to ban people
from having it, then maybe you need to rethink things. This is another
in a line of things that I wrote about in the last post - people who want
to tell you how to live your life because they know what's good for you.
They want to tell you what wage you can work for. They want to tell you
how you can live. They want to tell you that guns aren't good for you.
They want to tell you drugs aren't good for you. I've been pretty staunchly
anti-drugs for my entire life. It's something I haven't changed on, but
I have changed in that I think people should get enough rope to hang themselves.
It's your choice if you want to go down the path of having drugs in your
life. Maybe you can keep it under wraps and maybe you can't. Maybe you
can take care of a firearm yourself and maybe you can't. But the option
should be yours (given a few basic hurdles like age requirements, licensing,
maybe a mandatory class, etc.).
Been working on this large fencing job
near a storage space in Oakland. It's right next to the railroad tracks
and I've been out there several times to repair various units that have
been broken into (most likely by homeless/drug addicts). The company is
finally taking out the chain link fencing and putting in expanded metal
along the whole thing. 650' of fencing that we took out and are going through
to put in new stuff. A homeless guy tried to walk off with some of my tools
while we were out there working. Another homeless chick walked by and looked
totally wrecked. Track marks, skin all fucked up, etc. So, maybe, just
like Republicans want women getting an abortion to watch a video first,
we should make people who want to do drugs watch a video of people like
The biggest emotion that came through
in Carlin's podcast
was that of disappointment. It's just really disappointing to see people,
and society at large, making bonehead decisions. This isn't difficult stuff
like the ban the box policy passed by Obama that backfired. No unintended
consequences here. This is basic shit. Depressing.
Looks like we're going to have another
Catholic on the SCOTUS. 7 Catholics and 2 Jews. This used to be a major
cleavage in US society. JFK being Catholic was a big deal. Now Catholics
run the SCOTUS. Race and gender are the cleavages of today I guess. Maybe
that's encouraging? What will the cleavages be in 20 years? Furries?
Polygamists? Amy Coney Barrett would be the only one on the court who didn't
go to Yale or Harvard (I think I have that right...they've all been to
one of two Ivy Leagues). So there's some diversity there at least. And
she has a vagina so that's a plus!
We really need to stop ratcheting up
the Israelis vs. Palestinians type stuff here. Nothing good is going to
come from packing the court or refusing to concede an election or any number
of things. Who are the leaders in our country who are acting to unify?
Who is out there trying to de-escalate? Whoever it is doesn't get nearly
as much press coverage as all the other blowhards. Again, the media amplifying
the worst and making the problem worse.
Breonna Taylor cops weren't indicted
was the headline I saw. But it turns out one was, but not for her killing.
Each one of these cases has its own subtleties. The Taylor one I think
is less about race or class than some of the others are potentially. To
me it highlights a systems failure. Atul Gawande is famous for coming up
with a checklist for surgeons so that they don't forget to sew up organs,
scrub before surgery, remove instruments, or whatever. People are human
and we miss things. Where life and death are involved you need to increase
friction. Increase the amount of time it takes to get things done. Introduce
checklists and redundancies. When it comes to making money and getting
shit done, you want to decrease friction. But it makes sense to me that
there should be a lot of talk and bureaucracy (something I'm generally
against, but it has its advantages when the stakes are life/death)
and checklist type stuff before a no knock raid where guns are going to
be in the mix. Get all the officers on the same page. Talk to everyone
involved. Go down the checklist and make sure nothing is missed. This is
government use of force against its citizens...there should be some deliberation
and time taken to ensure innocent lives aren't lost.
In a perfect world the federal government
would have people who analyze best practices and disseminate that information
to all local authorities. They wouldn't necessarily be mandatory, but a
list of suggested practices in a variety of situations. This could be applied
from everything to policing to nutritional programs or housing policies
or procurement policies. Theoretically the government could draw from academics,
local authorities, etc. and synthesize all this into a pretty good list
on any given topic. They've done this on restoration of old buildings because
contractors working in historic homes need to be on the same page when
doing the work.
Another thing that comes up in some of
these shootings is the question "why do the cops need to shoot a person
10 times?" This is a question of ignorance and there's nothing wrong with
that as long as it's asked from a place of curious ignorance, as opposed
to accusation. The reason is that a lot of times people are shot a few
time and they're still able to get rounds off. Cops are trained to shoot
until the threat is neutralized, and I think that makes perfect sense.
1) you should only shoot if someone's life is on the line 2) keep shooting
until they're not a threat anymore. You don't shoot once in the leg and
wait to see if the person stops shooting back at you. That's Hollywood
stuff. Check out some Active
Self Protection videos to get a feel for what cops deal with. Seen
a couple videos there where someone is shot, but still gets off rounds.
The left is like feathers blowing around.
The right is like a weight keeping everything from moving around too much.
Enough feathers moving in the same direction and the weight moves. Need
video nails it. This ties into the horseshoe theory of the extremes.
Farther you go towards the extreme end of the horseshoe, the closer you
get to the other extreme.
Listened to the Firm recently. Book practically
made for film. Fluffy.
Listened to Death Of Ivan Ilyich the
other day. Ikiru-esque, which is high praise. I think I'll need to listen
to it again now that I know where it was going. Good book.
Listened to Art of War. Quick one. Good
wisdom. Don't destroy your enemy or make him desperate. Keep the army intact
(could have used that in Iraq, but we disbanded the army. oops). Know your
enemy (another Iraq failure). Another piece of wisdom is essentially that
you should try not to lose first and then try to win. This has been a life
strategy of mine. Similar to the black swan idea that you want to stay
in the game. The most important thing is to stay in the game.
A common retort to conservatives who
are anti-government is "Well, you like the military so you're not against
all government. Maybe we should just make Welfare (or whatever) as good
as the military and then you'd like it." Sounded nice when I first heard
it and I may have even tried it on some conservatives. Problem is that
the military isn't all that good either. War is awful and difficult so
you can't exactly compare it to the DMV where all variables are pretty
well accounted for, but still...our military has a lot of waste and a lot
of pretty basic failures even in recent history.
Be skeptical of the smart people telling
you they have the answers. We probably need more technocrats, but I think
they don't know nearly as much as they think.
Dolly Parton's Joshua
is very similar to Johnny Cash's Boy
Named Sue. Boy Named Sue was written by Shel Silverstein and was inspired
by Jean Shepherd who wrote A Christmas Story.
Listening to Righteous Mind (Jonathan
Haidt) now. I've listened to a lot of Haidt so some of it is old territory,
but of course the book fleshes the ideas out more and sometimes that's
nice. Other times it's just the author going over five examples of/stories
that illustrate the same concept. One example of confirmation bias that
he relates is a study where subjects were given a set of 3 numbers (2,
4, 6) and they could submit their own 3 numbers to see if they conformed
to the pattern. People generally would ask other 3 digit sequences like
24, 26, 28 and the researcher would say "yes" to indicate that the 3 digit
sequence conformed to the rule the researcher had in mind. Then they might
ask if 11, 13, 15 worked and the researcher would say it did. So, most
subjects would stop there and pronounce that the pattern was 3 numbers
separated by 2. What people tended to not do is present a sequence that
might refute their hypothesis like 55, 56, 57 or 33, 31, 34. The first
sequence conforms and the second does not. The actual rule is any 3 numbers
that are in ascending order.
It's an interesting little study, but
I found it interesting because it's a lot like race/class in our culture
right now. As I wrote the other day. We see a lot of Black people being
shot or whatever it is in the news this week and we are seeing that familiar
2, 4, 6 pattern. We think we know what we're seeing. And we're not wrong,
but we're not totally right either. There are lot of 3 digit sequences
that fit the pattern most people had in mind, but there are even more sequences
that fit the real pattern that is occurring. The more true pattern is that
poor people are being shot by cops.
So, whenever the media or so-called experts
talk about some way in which Blacks are being oppressed, etc. ask yourself
if it's unique to them or if it's even more true of men or poor people
or perhaps something else. In many cases I've found that that's the case.
Race gets you partly there, but mostly because of the find and replace
that happened with Blacks in America.
Another thing you can look at, if racism
is your concern, is Black immigrants. If racism (that is, hate of black
skin) is the primary driver of these problems then you would expect similar
outcomes for Black immigrants and native born Blacks. You would have to
control for age (immigrants tend to be younger, but so do Black people,
relative to White Americans). You would also want to control for immigrants
relative to the native population. Immigrants tend to earn less overall
(in part because of age, but maybe also because they don't have the same
resources, are working their way up the ladder, etc.). But, just looking
at the raw numbers, it's pretty clear that Black immigrants are doing better
than native born Blacks. A couple sources
"The Michigan State University study showed that black African immigrant
men had earnings increases of 79 percent from 1990 to 2010, making an average
of $45,343 in 2010. White men born in the United States earned an average
of $49,478. Black men born in the United States earned just $24,000 in
2010, according to the study."
I've heard a lot of studies that find
similar things, so I don't think it's a stretch to say that Black immigrants
are doing quite a bit better (economically) than native born Blacks. It
would be interesting to see incarceration rates of Black immigrants relative
to native born Blacks as well. I would suspect it would be lower. This
is all to point out that black skin, at the very least, doesn't tell the
whole story. Perhaps racism against black skin is part of the equation,
but it's clearly not explaining everything since you have 2+ million Black
immigrants earning (on average) more than people who look the same, but
were born here.
Again, the issue points back to longer
running downstream effects of history (slavery, Jim Crow). I don't see
much evidence that current hate of those with black skin is what's keeping
Blacks down. So, the good news seems to be that racism isn't as bad as
some would have us believe. The other good news is that, as far as I can
tell, the laws are no longer racist. But as they say in Magnolia - we may
be done with the past, but the past isn't done with us.
Not sure how we undo the knock on effects
of slavery, but identifying that as the problem seems like the first step.
If you think it's racist judges and cops and implicit bias then you're
really not going to have the desired effect. It's like caulking around
your windows when there's a hole in the roof. Not a bad idea, but not addressing
the real issue either. Or maybe it's like worrying about your prostate
cancer after you've just been shot in the stomach. Both can kill you, but
which do you think is going to do the job first?
I think a lot of this cultural stuff
could be solved if we lived around different people more. Not sure how
to do this while retaining the first principle of people being able to
choose where they live. Mixed zoning, incentives, different school funding
method? Rich people go where good schools are. Good schools are where property
tax income is high, it's kind of a loop. There just aren't enough people
who will actively take their money to marginal neighborhoods in an effort
to lift up the area. It's a disappointing reality that people talk about
loving diversity and equity and all that, but their actions speak more
loudly. Their kids go to private school, they live in the suburbs, they
live in buildings with a door man, etc. It seems like most of the people
who talk about this shit are limousine liberals with little to no real
contact with poor people or POC.
One thing I like about my job is that
I get to see so many different people from different walks of life. I have
a few buildings/customers I work for who are in pretty shitty areas. The
trifecta is when you see a prostitute, syringe, and human shit on the street
in the same day. Not an everyday occurrence, but it happens. I'll see at
least one of those basically every day. Again, back to the experience issue
I brought up with guns above...if you're not experiencing, in some way,
a variety of walks of life, how are you qualified to legislate or judge
anything relating to those people? Most city people have very little experience
with rural people or their realities and vise versa (although city living
is far more available through cultural texts so rural people probably have
a better idea of what city dwellers go through than vise versa).
I've written before about examples like
rural schools that have the occasional bear or other wildlife that visits.
This is something most city folk wouldn't ever think about when deciding
whether or not guns should be allowed at schools. City folk probably don't
have on their radar that a lot of rural people supplement their diet with
meat they hunt. Or they may not know anything about the problem that deer
pose in some communities because natural predators are gone - so hunting
is good way to keep the populations under control. I've lived in cities
most of my life so there are no doubt many others that I don't know about.
I would like the next evolution in basketball
to be using all 12 guys. Full court press, more defense. Most teams go
8-9 deep? Used to be 7-8 during the playoffs so I think they're moving
in the right direction. Get stamina into the game more. If you get 4 turnovers
a game on a full court press then that's 8 free points. That's gotta translate
to making the playoffs or not for some bubble teams.
There's a problem with certain people
telling other people how to live their lives. Often it comes from a seemingly
good place. Regulators will say you can't work for any less than $14.14/hr
(in Oakland) for example. Or, you can't build a house with bedrooms smaller
than 70 sq. ft. These are seemingly good things, but they have consequences.
It raises the cost of living for those on the lowest end of the income
spectrum. For people with little to no skill they are unlikely to get jobs.
I've written before (8/7/18) about the fact that teenage employment is
30 percentage points lower than it was at its peak in the late 70s. Part
of that could be that kids these days are lazy or working on extra curricular
activities to try to get into college, but a bigger part of it is likely
that the average employer doesn't want to hire a kid for a summer when
they cost so much. A teen with little to no experience is really only going
to be good with a broom or stocking supplies or something similar. Is it
really worth paying that person $14.14/hr plus FICA taxes, UI, WC, and
the cost of training? Businesses have clearly made the decision that it
isn't. Hire someone with kids to feed, someone who is motivated, someone
who already has the ability to show up on time and put in consistent effort.
Training a kid from the bottom up is fine if you're paying them $50/day,
but when you triple that it just doesn't pencil out in low margin businesses
like fast food. At any rate, the issue I'm getting at is that good intentions
don't matter much. Also, maybe it's better to hold off on telling other
people how they should live.
One issue that comes up a lot is the
issue ot intentionality. How much do intentions matter? If you buy into
the Ibram X. Kendi binary then they don't matter. I think Chomsky has made
a similar argument, but with regards to foreign policy. Kendi (I think)
would say that if a policy has a racist effect then it is racist - regardless
of intentions. I think there's a legal doctrine related to this and the
Civil Right Act as well, IIRC. Something like if laws have a negative consequence
for Blacks then they violate the act, regardless of intentions. One can
understand this perspective to some extent. But I don't think it's wise
to be too doctrinaire on this point. For example - Obama had a tax on tanning
salons in part of his attempt to fund the ACA. This clearly is a tax on
white people, so does that make it a racist policy? How about his ban the
box initiative which had the unintended consequence of have fewer Blacks
hired? Another racist policy? This is the downside of this "with us or
against us" thinking that Bush espoused, the "racist or anti-racist" thinking
that Kendi espouses...it's too binary. As our society gets more digital
we seem to also be getting more binary. hmm.
Dan Carlin doesn't post much on his podcasts
these days, but he's great and I keep subscribed to all of his stuff. He
dropped a new podcast yesterday and it's one of his best. Usually he has
3-4 hour episodes about WW2 in his Hardcore History channel. Or he has
thoughts about society in his Common Sense channel. This one was from Common
Sense and you should probably check
it out. Left me wanting to cry. He says a lot of the stuff I've been
thinking. He hasn't voted R or D (for president) since 1992...something
I can relate to since I haven't voted R or D ever. But, like him, I'm making
an exception this year and voting for Biden. With Trump the threat is existential.
We're in a very sad place right now. Probably will relisten to it tomorrow.
Working out and getting drunk are opposites.
One is good for you, the other isn't. One makes you feel good while you're
doing it, and sucks after. The other sucks while you're doing it and is
Don't talk much about work or family
lately. Kids are doing well despite all the bullshit. The remote learning
stuff is basically just like a youtube playlist. About 90% of teachers
could be fired. I think the 5 minutes of "personal attention" they are
getting daily is borderline worthless. Could probably just have videos
of the best teachers giving the best lessons and that would be better given
the remote learning situation.
Alameda county is doing pretty well on
the COVID front.
Work is pretty steady right now, but
always worried about booking stuff for the future. Keeping 3 people busy
is a lot harder than keeping 1 person busy. Especially when we don't have
a major renovation going. We finally finished the major remodel we were
doing in SF a few months ago. It took a year to get PG&E to install
a new gas meter. The level of incompetence and delay in that organization
is amazing. The project consisted of digging a trench about 40 feet long,
tapping into the main supply (the hard part), installing the meter, and
covering it all back up. I'm OQ 02-13 and OQ 05-07 certified now which
means I can legally do trenching for this kind of work and let me tell
you - there are a lot of rules, but it's not really a complicated thing
- especially for this project. And yet, they were able to make it take
a year. This is the kind of thing that should take 2-4 weeks in a functioning
Anyway, that project is complete and
sold. Closes Friday. Between COVID, PG&E, and my inexperience, I think
we either barely broke even or lost a little on the investment. It was
a good learning experience. New foundation, lots of structural work, total
I like music as much as the next guy,
but I find things get stuck in my head more than ever before. It kinda
sucks. Maybe this is one reason I like more atonal stuff or ambient music
- doesn't stick with me as much.
Work-wise I find that I don't really
like doing the pretty work as much. I can get things looking pretty good
and there's some satisfaction to it. But I'm a more practical person and
people nit-picking over a grout line or a small imperfection in the drywall
is just too grating for me. I don't like people also, so there's that.
But picky people finding things wrong with natural pieces of wood or complaining
about small imperfections just kills me. I'd much rather be the guy in
the trenches clearing shit out of drains or troubleshooting electrical
work or something. I have no problem getting dirty or being in nasty situations.
I thought about crime scene cleanup for a bit, but I don't think it pays
enough. I want to make things work and fix things that are damaged. I don't
really want to cater to your first world problems. Some people (including
in the trades) take this stuff way too seriously. I fully support the trades.
I think great trim carpenters and tile setters are a sight to behold. But
they're also catering to the .1% of the world and there are much more important
things we can be doing with our time, energy, and talents. I think I'd
like to gravitate more towards functional work. Tenant improvements, maybe
some commercial work, etc. Something where function is more important than
form. Something where 8/10 is good. The amount of effort it takes to go
from an 8 to a 10 just isn't worth it, IMO.
There's a saying that quantity has a
quality all its own. I think you could also say that functionality and
completion have a quality all their own. "Good enough and done is better
than perfect and pending." Done is better than perfect. I think this kind
of mentality is frowned upon by some. I'd rather improve the homes of 100
people than make perfect the homes of 10. I'd also rather not tear out
a perfectly good bathroom just so someone can have the latest shit they
saw on HGTV. I throw so much shit in the trash every week it's amazing.
Each trip I take to the dump is usually about 2-3000lbs. Think I've taken
5 trips in the last two weeks, although it's been pretty busy lately for
some reason. And I do a lot more recycling than most contractors. Clean
wood goes in the green bins, cardboard gets recycled, and everything that
goes to the dump gets sorted as well.
Starting 650' worth of fence tomorrow.
Storage facility gets broken into every other week so they finally decided
to upgrade their fencing. 7k lbs. of expanded metal fencing, repairs to
broken into units, new middle and bottom rails, etc. Big job, good money.
They tell me how to build it and I get it done. That's the stuff I like.
The challenge is in the logistics, budgeting, etc. Not in spending 20 minutes
on a single miter joint using a Domino and hot melt polyurethane glue.
Wasn't ever a big Sound of Music fan,
but watching it a few months ago with the girls got me into it more. Really
good story and execution. Great soundtrack. There are fewer than 10 musicals
that are worth watching, but that's definitely one of them.
I have a guy from Guatemala on my crew
(Edwin) and he's learning stuff still. Been working with me for a year
and knows a bit of English and now he knows a bit about the trade as well.
One thing I've noticed in working with a lot of guys from Mexico and Guatemala
is that they tend to sort people into races quite a bit more than most
Americans I've ever met...and I'm not talking about Twitter, SJW, Kendi,
Coates type people who I've never met in real life. There was a painter
working on a job with me once and he told me I was about to get a ticket
so I ran outside and tried to get the meter maid to stop, but she didn't.
I came back inside and the guy told me about how he didn't like Black people
(meter maid was Black) and how she was a bitch and how the Blacks are always
going out in the street and fighting and stuff. Probably the most outwardly
racist person I've ever met in real life. Edwin talks about the differences
between people from Mexico and Guatemala and he gives the Mexican guy on
my crew a hard time and vise versa. It's interesting in part because woke
white people group Black and Brown together, but my experiences is that
Black and Brown (Latin) people have pretty different cultures in some ways.
I try to tell some of these guys that we're not really supposed to talk
about this stuff this way, but it's just the way they talk. Asians are
all Chinese, for example. The BLM movement is a mystery to them (roughly:
"if I, an illegal immigrant, can make a living here what are they complaining
It's one of the things I enjoy about
my work - learning about the different cultures from all the different
crews I work with. A few of the guys (like that painter) are pretty politically
incorrect, but sometimes they just come from a culture that views differences
in people differently than we do. It's also refreshing to work with a lot
of immigrants from Central America, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Russia, Hong
Kong, Ireland, etc. who have a different view of America - as a place of
opportunity - than many of the people I usually am around. Most of the
people I'm usually around are white natives who are college educated. These
are the people who have lived in/visited Western Europe and often are pretty
critical of the US (rightly so in some cases, especially now). But it's
nice to see have a different point of view from an outsider. Maybe this
is one reason why I like immigrants so much. They tend to work hard. They
tend not to be entitled. They tend to like this place. It's refreshing
relative to the people who are born here expecting an easy life, free stuff,
etc. American Exceptionalism, to the extent that it's a real thing, doesn't
just happen. You don't just automatically have more than your parents -
there has to be work involved. The opportunity might happen automatically,
but the reality doesn't materialize unless you act upon it.
Was it Hitler who said that in order
to defeat fascism you must become fascistic? We saw a bit of that with
FDR and his Gabriel
Over the White House type use of executive power. We're seeing suggestions
of it again with Trump. RBG dies and so people on the Left suggest packing
the courts should Biden become president. Sure, it's not strictly illegal,
but we know where this goes. It leads to the absurd. So, perhaps this is
just a threat to avoid Trump nominating some who is truly awful or to scare
a couple moderate Senators into not voting for a Trump nominee. But if
we take the threat literally then it's really a further erosion of norms
which Democrats claim to take seriously. Remember, you can't be the party
upholding norms and pissing and moaning about Trump eroding those norms
while simultaneously threatening to severely erode them yourself. Further,
it should be pointed out that RBG spoke on the issue of packing the court
and she thought it was a bad idea that made the SCOTUS a political body.
She was clearly against it.
Lebron has been first or second in the
MVP voting 8 times. He's also been first or second in the NBA championship
9 times. There's a lot of emphasis on getting rings, and I understand that,
but getting to the finals 8 years in a row and 9 total is damn impressive.
It looks like he'll make it again this year. He's done it in the East and
West. With a variety of teammates, some average and some great (Wade, AD).
He's top ten no matter how you slice it.
Hillary said that "Joe Biden should not
concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out,
and eventually I do believe he will win if we don't give an inch and if
we are as focused and relentless as the other side is." Isn't this a little
bit like saying that the only way we're going to lose is if the election
is rigged? Trump has gotten plenty of (deserved) flack for saying that.
Sometimes the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is that
the Democrats are smarter about how they will be perceived. Her version
has slightly more nuance and she gives a reason, but the bottom line is
that 1) she doesn't think he should concede "under any circumstances" and
2) she thinks Biden is going to win. Trump is saying sorta the same thing,
only through the filter of an id-dominant moron.
There's a thing that happens every time
a citizen comes into the political sphere. It happened with Rittenhouse,
the suburban couple, George Floyd, the gold star Khan family, etc. The
Right or Left will dig up dirt on these people and assassinate their character
in the media so that their respective side and rest assured that these
aren't real, good Americans...they're just shitty people so you're free
to hate them. Again, one more reason why the media is a major problem in
our society and far worse than Trump. There's a 100% chance Trump will
be out of our lives in 1-20 years. The same can't be said about this kind
of 24 hour, sensationalist, hit piece, sound bite, partisan media that
we've been living with for at least 20 years.
If enough people believe a thing it becomes
true. This is true for the value of a company. This is true for the electability
of a candidate.
Add Harrisburg to the list of failed
Democratic cities. When you have the same mayor running the show for 28
years it's just not a recipe for success. It's a recipe for graft, corruption,
Speaking of that suburban couple who
spoke at Trumps inauguration...They talked about how the suburbs are under
attack. I'm not sure what the hell they're talking about, but whatever.
The response seemed to be that this was a racist dog whistle. Sure, "suburbs"
and "urban" have become stand-ins for white and black, but I think it's
more accurate to say that they are being classist here. Perhaps it's 85%
racist, but it's 100% classist. Why focus on the race part when the class
part is more accurate? I don't know these losers, but I imagine they would
be just as aghast if a poor white dude who was working on his hoopty in
his yard moved in next door, as they would be if a black guy moved in next
That said, I didn't listen to their whole
speech - I just got the shitty parts from the usual liberal media sources
so I'm guilty of not getting the full story. I don't even know their names.
They're just the shitty fat white suburban couple with guns.
This country needs better people. We
talk a lot about career training, politics, religion, education, etc. Bottom
line is that we don't have enough good people anymore. Every thing is failing
every step of the way.
Apparently Richard Spencer endorsed Biden.
I guess this means Biden is now endorsed by the Neo-Nazis. Biden, for his
part, renounced his support. I don't think Trump did the same. I don't
think Trump would renounce anyone's support for anything ever.
The post office conspiracy thing seems
to have died out. Democrats are the party of thoughtful science and yet
that one had legs for a couple weeks. Righteousness really gets under my
skin and the elite Democrats really think they're so much better than Republicans.
So, even though I can't stand most of Republican policy, I relish those
moments when the Democrats, despite all their posturing and pontificating,
fall for the same shit that Republicans are known for. I really enjoy not
being of either party so I can have righteous indignation of both parties.
What a hypocrite!
Turned out like 90% of the post office
conspiracy was just harmless stuff like routine maintenance of machines
and boxes. As much as I shit on the NYT or WaPo, they at least take their
job seriously so they will issue retractions and corrections (on the back
page), while Breitbart and Fox are mostly professional trolls and shit
And as much as I shit on the federal
government, the USPS is one of the things I think they do pretty well.
I've been a long time supporter of the USPS. Their offices are usually
understaffed by people who don't really care and are only their for the
pension, but the carriers generally do a very good job. I almost never
lose mail (though I've had it stolen before) and their rates are very reasonable.
I think if Congress would get out of their way, they could make it even
better. One of the few programs I have faith in.
According to a UCB professor, in the
1970s there were 70-80 murders of civilians by cops per year in NYC. Today
that number is 7-8. As I posted a few days ago - the facts point to a situation
which is better than ever by actual factual measures and yet we complain
about it more than ever. Please explain. Why is there a lag between reality
and reaction? Is it that we're victims of our societal successes? If I
beat my wife every night she's going to get used to it and not complain
about it when I do it. It's just the norm. But if I only beat her once
a month then she's more likely to complain.
Our history essentially did an Excel
style find and replace for black and replaced it with poor. I think this
is obvious and drives a lot of the race conversation, but what gets lost
in there is that black often means poor, but that poor doesn't always mean
black; and, further, that poor is often worse than black. Of course some
will point out that you can't hide being black as if that is the biggest
issue. Being able to hide the fact that you have a shitty place to live
doesn't make it all that much better. It's a bit like the conversation
I had once with a black co-worker about being gay. She thought being black
was so much worse, but I pointed out that your black mom would never reject
you for being black, but that's not always true if you're gay. It's just
different...stop trying to win the oppression olympics.
We now track the race of people shot
by police. Why aren't we tracking their income status? I'd be willing to
wager that you're more likely to be shot by a cop if you're poor than if
you're black. This is another area where the media has control. They could
choose to highlight any aspect of a shooting that they want. They could
focus on the gender divide (though it doesn't support an oppression narrative)
or they could focus on the class divide, but they choose race. I wish they
would focus on the abuse of power narrative more. It's a more universal
message and would probably help bring change more - in part because it's
bipartisan. Liberals would continue to support reform and small government/Libertarian
types would also support it.
RBG died today. Bad day for the country,
but I can't help but think that there's one person who could have prevented
this. A brilliant person who could have done a selfless thing which would
have helped us all at this time. Unfortunately, RBG did not retire four
years ago...she decided to continue working despite her many health problems
and the likely outcome of the Republicans keeping the Senate. Honestly
a very odd thing for a very smart and seemingly selfless person to do...to
continue working at age 83 when your health means so much to the future
of the country. I would love to know what her thought process was.
The reality, though, is that she's gone
now and so Trump will get another pick and the Republican senate will support
whomever he picks. Even if the swing votes (Romney, Collins, and Murkowsky)
don't back Trump's pick, Pence will break the tie. Hopefully we get someone
like Roberts who seems bad-ish at first, but doesn't turn out so bad in
the long run. Kennedy didn't turn out as bad as many thought. He was also
smart enough to retire while alive under a Republican president/senate
to extend his legacy in a way.
Republicans tend toward ill-liberal policies
more than Democrats, but damn if they aren't more wise when it comes to
getting what it is they want. Democrats are the party of academics and
the intelligentsia, but they sure do act idiotically.
Biden looks really out of it and is appears
to be borderline senile at this point. If you haven't seen this then it
probably means you're not paying attention outside of the liberal news
outlets. One more sign of the times I guess. We have a borderline senile
guy against a crazy narcissist. When voting for the senile guy is the clear
choice, you're basically fucked.
There are so many problems these days
it's hard to keep up. One of them is the wildfire situation on the west
coast. Oregon is getting hit hard. CA is getting hit hard. Global warming
is likely part of that, but management has to be looked at as well. It's
a very odd cultural response that I see often...people blame not necessarily
the biggest issue or the issue they have the most control over...they blame
some other thing that is out of their control and often maybe the 5th or
10th biggest contributor to whatever failure it is they're talking about.
A few examples come to mind: Hillary blaming Comey's letter for her 2016
loss. Democrats blaming voter suppression for everything when we can't
even turn out 60% of the voters. Gore supporters blaming Nader for his
2000 loss. BLM blaming cops for black people dying...Often when I see this
it's like a smoker blaming the wildfires for his lung cancer. I mean, yeah,
it technically is part of the problem, but there's a much bigger issue
to consider and it's one you have complete control over. RBG could have
avoided this whole thing if she had retired, she didn't and now we have
to live with the consequences. Had Clinton won it would have been marginally
better, but we'd still be at the whim of the Republican senate...hoping
for a couple swing votes to get a narrow appointee.
Take care of your own business before
blaming everyone else for your problems. I guess that about sums up my
thoughts, but we have a culture that looks to blame others for our own
poor choices. One manifestation of this is the sue-happy society we have.
Been listening to audio books lately
instead of doing podcasts. Knocked off Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New
World this week. BNW wasn't great overall, but I understand why it has
withstood the test of time. Animal Farm is great and I remembered very
little of it from having read it many years ago. 1984 had a bit too much
of Orwell preaching, but was good. Reminded me of Clockwork Orange at the
end. Best part was actually the love story aspect.
One of the great things about these books,
but especially AF is that they really nail the academic elite. These books
came from a time when all the academics were planning wars and the books
point out the folly of those who think they know so much more than the
average person. In AF, in particular, there are several times when the
elites talk down to the idiot masses about how they don't understand things.
"You probably don't remember correctly" and "you would know this if you
could read," etc.
The Right seems to be pushing a few things
this election so far: sleepy Joe Biden, unrest in Democratic cities, and
anti-nutjob SJW cultural stuff. They have a point on all three counts,
but anyone who is pushing this stuff in support of Trump is in cuckoo territory.
I have to believe that the majority of the voters will see through Trump
and understand that the guy is an unmitigated disaster. If he was able
to get a few big things done then perhaps Americans would have looked past
his nutjob antics, overturning cultural norms, mental instability, lack
of contact with reality, etc. But I don't see enough that he can point
to at this point. Here are the accomplishments I see at this point: First
Step Act. Tax cuts. Two Supreme Court justices so far. Israel-UAE
peace agreement. There are plenty of economic indicators that were
also looking very good like black unemployment, stock market, overall unemployment,
etc., but those are mostly trashed at this point because of COVID. Maybe
the COVID unemployment checks is an accomplishment, but not one I'd brag
about if I were him. So, not much there overall. He hasn't done much on
China. North Korea peace deal may end up being good news, but I'm still
unpersuaded at this point.
So, a couple bipartisan good things with
the First Step Act and the Israel peace agreement. The SCOTUS justices
are bad if you think like me. The tax cuts are nice, but uneven. Overall,
a lot of drama and bullshit for not much. My hope with him was that we
were going to get a good dose of crazy, but he was going to crazy his way
into maybe two really big really good changes that couldn't have been done
without someone crazy. I think that same sort of hope is what got him elected.
I'd like to think that Americans have enough street smarts and bullshit
detection capability to understand that he hasn't gotten it done so he'll
lose in November...assuming Biden stays away from a camera long enough
to not say more dumb shit.
After Bush it seemed like the Left was
pretty motivated. That's what activated moveon.org and a bunch of other
Left leaning orgs. But that energy seems to be held by very few. Obama
won big and turnout was about 60%. Two years later and it was just
under 40%. I mean this is another example of Democrats blaming others for
their problems and not taking care of their own shit. Had they turned out
for Obama in 2010 like they did in 2008 then we'd be in a different world
right now. 30%+ decrease. Obama was pissed, and rightfully so. If Democrats
had won in 2010 then they could have gerrymandered districts for themselves
for the last 10 years. They could have done something better with Obamacare.
They could have taken on other issues. The downside would have been they
couldn't blame Mitch for all their failings, so I guess that would be a
You have a friend who has a good heart,
but always has drama in his life. He can't be bothered to show up to work
half the time. He makes friends with all the wrong people. He always blames
others for his problems. This is basically the Democrats.
I haven't heard the saying "when the
going gets tough, the tough get going" in a long time. For some reason
I have memories of hearing it a lot when I was younger. Is this a concept
people are familiar with anymore? It seems to me that we have some tough
times so we better get used to it. Wish we had more Depression era folks
still alive to give us their wisdom.
I have heard a lot about mansplaining,
manspreading, microaggressions, etc. So maybe that's this generation's
response to the going getting tough.
Nader is still with us and it's probably
as good a time as any to praise him, rather than waiting for him to die.
He's one of the great Americans of all-time. They tried to corrupt him,
they tried to get dirt on him, but he's always been true to helping the
common man and speaking real truth to power. He's a true non-partisan patriot
and when we lose him, it will be a great loss. Probably the best human
to run for president. Jimmy Carter and Corey Booker are also in the conversation.
Burke had this idea that part of conservatism
is respecting the generations before you. "Contract of Eternal Society"
basically said that we should not only think about living for the future,
or with future generations in mind, but also with respect for those before
us. In today's society this idea is being completely obliterated by the
Left and SJW types. Pretty much everyone in history is subject to revisionism
and is put on trial under today's standards. This is why we're seeing talk
about Mount Rushmore, monuments, statues, etc. No one is sacred. No one
is safe. I think Burke would say that not only should we take into account
the future with things like global warming, but we should also respect
that which was given to us by those before us. We shouldn't judge and rejudge
every generation before us on a "wokeness" scale that is ever changing.
Also listened to Hillbilly Elegy recently.
Pretty good book. Was popular for a while when people wanted to understand
why people would vote for Trump. I found it more interesting because I
see a lot of similarities between the Hillbilly honor culture and Black
American culture. Hillbillies say to each other that they're getting too
big for their britches if someone is doing really well and threatening
to leave. In Black culture they say you're acting white. Lots of people
(One.Be.Lo, for example) talk about Black culture as a bucket full of crabs
- where they grab the crabs that try to get out. Lot of similarities throughout
the book and it hopefully got a few people to realize that whites aren't
a monolith. Of course that seems to be even less understood today than
ever, so it doesn't appear as though he changed enough minds with his book.
One of the things I've gotten pretty
good at because of my job is keeping people busy, getting things done efficiently,
managing people, etc. I often see the streets full of garbage and things
that need repair throughout the city. I also often see homeless people.
When I see idle hands I want to keep them busy. I'm a strong believer in
the saying "idle hands are the devil's playground." Busy people just seem
to stay out of trouble more. It's a truism of life. So, I'd love to have
a city-run program to get the homeless to work. However, I'm sure there
are several hurdles to this. The unions would complain immediately because
they're being underbid. The city lawyers would complain because it would
be difficult to get insurance, documentation, etc. for a population that
is ever-changing, under-documented, etc. So, the nice idea of getting a
dump truck and some tools into the hands of some homeless people would
probably never happen because of the friction caused by city bureaucracy.
This is one more illustration of how bureaucracy hinders progress and large
organizations struggle to be nimble. One more illustration of why I don't
trust large organizations and why I've become more and more focused on
smaller power centers and the power of the individual.
The last thing the Right has been pushing
is the unrest in Democratic cities. This isn't good TV, that's for sure.
When you have ongoing protests and then also rioting, assaults, murders,
etc. occurring alongside these protests it looks really bad. At first I
think it was easier to make a distinction between the protesters and the
looters/rioters, but that distinction becomes more difficult to make as
it continues...whether the distinction exists or not. Not sure what the
answer is other than to stop protesting.
Gotta get all these people back to work,
though. This is a classic idle hands situation. Too many people sitting
around with nothing better to do than to stir shit up or piss and moan.
I do have to comment on the divide between
perception and reality. I've commented on this before. I'm a believer in
Truth, but I've also pointed out that it seems to matter very little these
days....perception is more important than reality. For BLM, for example,
never in our country's rocky history have Black people had it better and
yet their mistreatment is the subject of protests like only once or twice
before (depending how you categorize the civil war and rank the 60s to
today). The point being that, objectively speaking, Black people have greater
freedoms, outcomes, political and culture clout, etc. than ever before
in this country, and yet this is where we are. It's a strange situation.
The same is true for many SJW complaints about Trans rights, etc. I'm sure
a smart person could explain this to me, but I haven't heard it yet. Mostly
what I hear is about how bad everyone has it....which is true in some ways,
but the odd part to me is that it's better than ever and yet this is when
the complaints are at their height.
Last time I talked about the leading
question problem in reporting. Another one is the vague descriptions problem.
NYT recently said that Biden raised $300 million and that "much of the
money was from small donors." How much? You know how much, but you're refusing
to say. They know it's enough to say it's "much" so why don't they take
an extra 4 syllables to say "76% (or whatever the number is) of the money
was from small donors." They do this all the time. Good reporters, bad
reporters. NPR, NYT, etc. They all are guilty of this fundamental failure
to be precise when possible. Instead they editorialize by saying "much."
How about you let me decide if the percentage is much? Or, better yet,
you can give me the number and give me something to compare it to so I
can make an even more informed decision on whether or not "much" of the
money was from small donors. This is one small example, but they all do
it and they do it very frequently if you care to notice. Most probably
don't and so they are subtly being led to whatever conclusion the editors
SJWs: "silence is violence." also SJWs
"speech is violence." The Left really has to get these nuts under control
before they taint the movement like the religious nuts taint the Right.
I think immigrants and native born people
each have a responsibility. Natives should welcome new people to their
neighborhoods and help immigrants fit in, feel welcomed, etc. Immigrants
need to make an effort to learn the local ways and assimilate. I think
a certain kind of woke person reading that last part would be aghast, and
yet they would probably totally agree if I described the immigrants as
whites moving into a Black neighborhood (aka gentrifiers). It's the responsibility
of white people moving into black neighborhoods to understand what the
locals do and don't like. They should learn to fit in with the local customs.
"When in Rome" is good "When in 1940s Germany" is not so good, so there
are limits. But if it's good for white gentrifiers, then it's also good
for Latin American immigrants moving to a new place. Natives should be
welcoming and helpful. Immigrants should be eager to fit in and assimilate
while maybe bringing something from their culture to the natives. Instead
the anti-gentrification people see it as a battle against the white immigrants
just as the racists see Mexicans in their neighborhood as a battle. Two
sides of the same coin.
What's the deal with so many protesters
standing in front of moving vehicles? Is this a victimization strategy