kaizen
what's been floating my boat lately:

"How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think."
-Hitler-
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
-Albert Einstein-

9/27/17 (22:01)

  • ethan, my new hire, has been doing a really good job since hiring him. it's really cool to see a younger guy who is excited about the trades and starting a career for himself. i told his mom (donna, who i used to work for at the alumni house) a few years ago that he should enter trade school. she pushed him into college (uc davis) and it took him a while to get his degree. i suppose it was worth it in the long run, but i just don't see that as worthwhile for guys like ethan. he has a lot of energy and jumping through academic hoops to get a piece of paper which is going to help very little, if at all, when it comes to the trades just doesn't make sense. it's too early to say definitively, but i see in him a great work ethic, a desire to learn, and an aptitude for the trades. with those tools he'll have a career that will be fulfilling and rewarding. hopefully i can give him some of the guidance i wish i had had over the years of basically figuring it out myself. his first year in the trades is going to be about equivalent to my first 5 years.
  • another recent issue that came up thanks to trump is trans people in the military. i think we should basically have a standard for getting into the military and apply it evenly. if it happens to disproportionately affect women or trans people, then that's tough luck. same goes for being a fire fighter or any other very physical job. so, in the case of the military there are a variety of medical conditions that don't make sense for front lines work...diabetes is a common example of a physical condition that requires constant medical care and as a result is a disqualifying condition for serving on the front lines. if you're a trans person who is on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) then i think the same standard should apply. so, that's somewhat simplistic, but also much more nuanced than the discussion i see taking place. the discussion taking place appears to be like this...a liberal person says trans people should be allowed to serve no matter what, otherwise it's discrimination. a conservative person says it's not good for unit cohesion or it costs a lot to pay for their healthcare. both sides really miss the salient points. for front lines service there is an established standard and it should be followed. some trans people on HRT, for example, won't be able to serve because they are trans. sorry. i see no reason why they can't serve elsewhere as support staff. the cost of their healthcare shouldn't be a consideration, but the logistics of their healthcare in a front lines situation should be a consideration. this seems very reasonable, but is probably an unpopular opinion. sorry about that. trump just stirred the shit with ignorant comments; what else is new?
  • i was thinking about my comment that pundits, politicians, and scholars should have to rank, or assign a percentage to, the variables they think contribute to a certain thing. i good litmus test would be: what are the top 5 reasons the median poor person is poor. i think the things a person comes up with and the percentage they assign to this would be very telling. a conservative might say things like: bad personal decisions (poor work ethic, immoral behavior), bad parenting, poor cultural priorities, lack of spirituality, etc. a liberal might say things like: institutional impediments, racism, sexism, corporate capitalism, poor educational opportunities, etc. i think both sides make some fair points. i'd have to spend a lot of time thinking about coming up with the top 5 and assigning a number to each, but i'd say that the single biggest of those things i mentioned is personal decisions. maybe it's only 35% of the pie, but it's probably the biggest single thing in my mind.
  • why do white men commit 70% of all suicides? i guess one answer could be that if you're a black woman and things are fucked up in your life you may be used to it because your life has been (on average) harder than that of a white guy. it also could be that black women can blame their circumstances on others; whereas a white guy is (supposedly) told that he can be whatever he wants. when his life sucks maybe he thinks it's all because he's a failure and he can't shift responsibility for his shitty life to racism or sexism. it could also be that life as a white guy is very isolating relative to others. women tend to be more social and it's more accepted to talk about weakness. blacks also tend to be more social and having a network of friends is a good preventer of suicide.
  • six economic policies politicians won't touch. one issue with lists like this is that you can't really pick and choose. you kinda have to go with all (or most) of them in order for everything to balance out. if you cut a bunch of taxes on corporations or income, but don't tax carbon or eliminate the mortgage tax deduction, then our deficits are even more fucked. i think i'd pretty much be for these 6 changes if it came to a vote. maybe i'd miss the mortgage deduction. i don't think legalizing marijuana is as important as the other 5. but overall i'd say let's do it. payroll taxes are a stupid impediment to hiring. i have first hand experience with this. i'd rather pay ethan more, and he'd rather earn more, than to pass it onto the govt. plus it's one more thing to worry about when hiring, in addition to insurance requirements, etc. if you want more jobs then make it easier to hire people, not harder (fewer payroll taxes, requiring healthcare be tied to employment, etc.). make it easier to get a job (fewer licensing requirements).
  • okay, i think i've waded into enough touchy topics to earn the ire of my readers for a day. time to sleep.

  • 9/26/17 (21:22)

  • big story of the week seems to be the NFL protest. everything these days is very strange to me. i'm sure this is partly because we live in bizarre times with trump and rampant post-modernism/social upheaval, and partly because i'm just getting old. one reason it's weird is because there always seems to be a lot of discussion about the act itself, instead of the underlying cause or issue. so, it devolves into a first amendment debate or whatever, more on that later. it's also odd because people still haven't figured out that most of what trump says is irrelevant. i figured this out fairly quickly, thankfully. i constantly hear from people "did you hear what trump tweeted/said/wrote?" frankly i don't much care at this point. he's a stupid troll. ignore him. on the other hand he's the president, so anything he says is inherently important. i acknowledge this point of view and think it doesn't apply to the current person occupying the office.
  • there's a lot of speculation about what he says and why he says it and all that. is he saying it to purposely distract us? is he playing us? is he playing to his base and willing to change on actual policy? there's evidence for all of these positions because he's all over the place. using what he says to make an argument about who he is is foolish. read that again because i think it applies to everyone, but it's most obvious with trump. “Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.” we've heard this "actions speak louder than words" quote a million times, and yet we seem to completely ignore its wisdom when it comes to trump. again: he's a troll - ignore what he says. if you want to know who he is then look at what he does. don't ascribe motivation where you cannot (pretty much everywhere). don't react to words. look at actions (solely, or at least primarily) and you'll probably have a more honest view of who he is (and feel saner in the process).
  • i'm no law school student, but my understanding of the first amendment is that is stops at the office door. so, you can't work for the NFL and wear a "fuck trump" t-shirt or whatever. does this extend to needing to stand during the national anthem? eh, maybe or maybe not. i don't know, but making a first amendment argument is generally the last refuge of a lost argument. emily bazelon brought it up with regards to the new hillary book. i guess there are some who are saying she shouldn't have written the book and bazelon said she has every right to write the book. these are two different things. anyone who says she doesn't have the right is a moron. that's a different argument from saying she shouldn't have written it. that argument is normative and saying she doesn't have the right would be a positive argument. both are dumb, by the way. she both has the right to write the book and probably should write the book as well. so, bazelon was on the right side, but was using the wrong argument.
  • same goes for the first amendment NFL stuff....the players may or may not have the right to protest while at work; i'm not a legal scholar, but i know it's probably more complicated than many realize. that said, they should protest police brutality because it's an abuse of government power and an attack on individual liberty. this is the core of the argument, and this is what was basically a footnote in the coverage i saw about this weekend. the headline was trump saying dumb shit on twitter. the sub-headline was talking about what occurred (locking arms, not going onto the field, most teammates participating, etc.). the "why" of it all was the footnote. sad!
  • hbo is going to have a show about what would have happened if the confederacy had won the third civil war. it's a counterfactual in the vein of Man in the High Castle. apparently, though, it got lambasted because it's going to apparently fan the flames of racial disharmony and could provide a wish fulfillment to white supremacists. this kind of reaction to a show that hasn't even begun production is pretty pathetic. to start a twitter campaign with a #noconfederate hashtag just reeks of people with too much time on their hands and a over-developed sense of moral superiority. how can anyone comment on a show that hasn't been made at all? just bizarre.
  • why do we adjudicate some crimes on college campuses? why should rape or theft or anything else not directly related to education, be confined to the campus police and campus "legal" process? it seems that the campus is only capable of meting out justice after society has done it first. doesn't make a lot of sense. seems like we should eliminate this and reform the criminal justice system in the process. maybe once privileged whites start entering the criminal justice system over small crimes that might currently be kept "in-house," the system will see some reform on these minor infractions that can derail lives for little good reason. for example, a kid vandalizes a campus building and goes on academic probation as a result. a kid vandalizes a local business and gets a misdemeanor on his record instead. same crime, way different result just because he can afford college. same could go for sexual assault or drug possession or whatever shit gets swept under the rug while in college.
  • how about recontextualizing confederate monuments instead of white washing history? tell a difficult story about our history instead of just tearing it down.
  • i have a problem with how we prioritize our attention and money in the guise of saving lives, etc.. if we really care about lives perhaps we should spend more money on heart disease and less on terrorism. if we care about black disenfranchisement perhaps we should make DC representation a real priority instead of worrying about #oscarssowhite.
  • i think science and society should work the same way in the following way...in science you set up an experiment and try to think about all the possible factors that could influence your results, you gather all the data as best you can and then you look at it and you're supposed to basically accept the results. if you see some weird data then maybe you run the experiment again, have a peer rerun it in different cirumstances, etc. but you don't take the results and try to play games with it in order to support your thesis. science is supposed to be: data leads to thesis. it's not supposed to be: develop thesis, design study to get data that confirms thesis. scientists who do this are usually industry shills. i think you get the point.
  • society should be similar in this way. we should figure out what our priorities are, what the laws should be, etc. and then live with the outcomes of those priorities. if we get outcomes that we don't like should we then go back and change laws? i think most people would say yes, i'm not so sure. let's decide on our principles and then make laws according to them. if it doesn't work out for everyone, then that's the result of the principles we agreed upon. not everyone is going to be a winner. i think that's the crux of it. these days it seems like we're supposed to want everyone to be a winner. i think it's okay to have a society where not everyone is a winner. i'm morally okay with that. i think our principles should be hard work, ethical and equal treatment of others, etc. if you don't work or make bad decisions then life isn't going to be so good for you. it shouldn't be worse for you just because you're black or poor vs. rich or white, but not working and making bad decisions leads to poverty and i'm pretty much okay with that (obvious exceptions like disability, certain ages, etc. aside). in other words, i guess i'm not pro social engineering.
  • of course all that is a purist pipe dream because it sorta assumes a reset situation where everyone starts off in the same place.

  • 9/22/17 (21:02)

  • i think it's great that berkeley finally decided to allow ben shapiro and others on their campus. the new president seems to understand the concept of free speech. then you hear that the bill for doing this is $600k and you have to wonder how they possibly got to such a number. paying all the cops on UCPD and BPD staff for a day's work couldn't possibly cost that much. it honestly sounds like bullshit. further, why is ben shapiro such a controversial person? i haven't looked into him much, but i've seen some of his talks and he's just a smart conservative guy. you may not agree with his views on the role of government, but he's pretty consistent and far from an alt-right bigot. he doesn't support trump, left breitbart because they got too ideological for him and he's jewish so i sorta doubt he's a nazi. strange times we're living in.
  • anyone else noticing the ads for low down payment loans on houses? anyone else think this was part of the problem the first time around? nah, obama and the inept congress fixed all that stuff.
  • emily bazelon was recently bemoaning the fact that hillary clinton was weighed down by her husband's legacy. this is the same thing that happened to al gore. and frankly, tough luck. both benefited from his legacy and both were hurt by it. i don't see it as an issue. if HRC wasn't his wife then she wouldn't have been elected to the senate or sniffed the white house. it's weird how i've heard a couple things along these lines that bill clinton's legacy with the crime bill or lewinsky or even recently on the tarmac with loretta lynch all contributed to hillary losing the election in some way or another....i'm no great fan of clinton or his mixed legacy, but jesus christ you have to do a lot of yoga to bend over so far backwards that you blame bill for HRC losing, and you have to really be blind to not see that without bill's win in 92, there's no HRC campaign in 2016.
  • a big part of the problem with all these things is that it's so squishy. a commentator can say that bill clinton's legacy hurt hillary. a commentator can say that nader lost the election for gore. a commentator can say that the legacy of slavery is the reason blacks earn less than whites today. these sound like clear claims, but they don't have much backbone to them. i want the commentator to do this instead: there are 10 primary reasons HRC lost to trump and here they are (making them up now, but just for the sake of argument): ineffective campaigning in battleground midwestern states 20%, she couldn't convince white women to vote for her 10%, trump masterfully used the media to his advantage 10%, etc. same should go for a lot of these discussions.
  • i've read enough by ta-nehisi coates to know that his view on why blacks earn less than whites is basically: white supremacy 98%, everything else 2%. and while i've never read anything david duke has written, his story is probably: inferior genes 99%, everything else 1%. what i'd really like to see in these discussions is hard numbers applied to the theories and ideas put forth by the people talking about a given topic. no more hiding behind empty generalities. i want people to take a real stance on this stuff so we know where they stand. give me your top 5 reasons gore lost, in order. give me percentage breakdown on the reasons healthcare costs so much. if you're expert enough to be a pundit, then surely this isn't so difficult.
  • it's weird when i think about how we're supposedly taught to think about the country. among "right thinking people," the narrative is that we're taught in school that america is great and hasn't done anything wrong. maybe that's the education some people received. maybe those are the movies some people watched, but i don't think that applies to my experience. i definitely internalized the idea that america is a source of great good AND great evil in human history. i don't believe the narrative that schools and society have white-washed history so we think that america can do no wrong. while it's true that i didn't learn the details of every historical slight, every oppression, every atrocity, every amoral act the government perpetrated on women, blacks, native americans, etc. there's no doubt that it would have been impossible to be ignorant of the general theme that our government and people have caused a lot of suffering at home and abroad.
  • i suppose one example of this is when i first learned of how many lynchings happened in the south in the 1950-60s. being surrounded by movies like mississippi burning and stories of emmett till and four little girls and plenty others, i would have guessed that thousands of blacks were lynched in the american south in those two decades. when i first learned that the actual number is less than 10 in those 20 years, i thought it was an outright lie. so, in this way i came out of my primary school education with a view of america in those decades as pretty much a constant source of lynching, but it was actually extremely rare. in the 1880s more lynchings happened to whites than blacks. by the 1930s, lynchings of blacks was in the single digits. so, while my perception that america was awful for blacks in the 50s and 60s is accurate, the manifestation of that awfulness (lynchings) was almost entirely divorced from reality (in that there were hardly any).
  • another example would be in my learning about the slave trade. we spent plenty of time on this in class and talking about the slave trade triangle. i remember them mentioning a bit about the slave trade extending to the caribbean and south america, but the perception i had was always that america was, by far, the worst offender in the slave trade system. but, as henry louis gates points out, this isn't even close to true. we brought fewer slaves here than france, netherlands, spain, UK, and portugal. also, 75% of americans in 1860 didn't own any slaves. on the one hand i understand focusing on the US role in the slave trade...after all, it's US history...on the other hand it made me always think that the US was worse than it actually was.
  • in this vein, i think there's been a bit of revisionist history on native americans lately. the traditional teachings were that native americans were a proud and peaceful monolith of people who were slaughtered by the evil white invaders. in the last 15 years or so i've seen more nuanced teachings in popular culture. native americans were different tribes and some of them were quite pugnacious. some native americans owned slaves (gates also mentions this in the link above). in other words, our recent ignorance on native americans cast them in an entirely good light...perhaps as a reaction to the former ignorance (think Westerns) of them, which cast them almost entirely in a negative light. turns out people are people. weird.

  • 9/17/17 (19:27)

  • the USC/UT game wasn't a disappointment. i was very close to going to the game, but family and work obligations kept me from making the drive. i regret this decision quite a bit now. great game, 2OT. lots of missed opportunities by USC and a lot of heartache, but they got the job done. i thought we were done for when UT was driving the ball down the field on their last regulation possession. we refused to put double coverage on johnson for some reason. but when i saw that we had 39 seconds on the clock and were at the 35 yard line i was surprisingly confident. normally i'm in deep despair in this situation because the odds are pretty bad....but we have sam darnold. he's the best clutch qb USC has had in my memory. i honestly think the kid is better than leinert. i just remembered the rose bowl and thought to myself "this is exactly where sam darnold wants to be; this is where he's at his best." he drove down the field and got within chip shot range and the kicker nailed it. great game to watch. the execution wasn't all there and i really regret missing it in person, but very fun to watch.
  • trump is going after daca now. the way he's doing it, however, is probably surprising for those who think he's literally hitler. instead of just canceling the deferment program, he's giving daca people 6 months to renew and he's telling congress to solve the problem with an actual law. this is much more in line with what one would expect from a conservative president. and, frankly, this is the way more of our lawmaking and regulatory structure should work. we may have forgotten since it's been so long since it's gone the way it's intended, but the way the system is intended to work is congress writes laws and the executive is in charge of executing those laws. it's part of the constitution for the president to faithfully execute the laws of the u.s. when a president says they're going to selectively execute the laws or when congress refuses to write laws to address issues of the day, then the system starts falling apart. there's been a consistent power grab from the executive branch since FDR to take on more and more of these duties and i think it's coming to its logical conclusion now...an inept congress that can't or won't address major issues like immigration. given this power vacuum, the president steps in and does what he can, even if he thinks it's unconstitutional (as obama said). i should expand on this because i don't think the mainstream clickbait media is covering this very well and the average voter probably doesn't remember it.
  • in 2011, obama explicitly said that the president can't just write an executive order to stop deportations or change immigration law. in 2008 he said "we're not going to use signing statements as an end run around congress." but with DACA he flipped on both of those. DACA says he's telling the executive not to execute existing immigration law in an even way...he's prioritizing who we should go after. not only that, but he created a framework for young illegal immigrants to be legitimized in society. further, he expanded it to not only DREAMERS, but also their close family members (DAPA). this is constitutionally questionable in my opinion. the 5th circuit ruled on this and also said he went too far with DAPA and essentially said that it's more than just an executive action. i think it's basically the right sentiment, but executed in a way that very well might not be constitutional. of course obama supporters would say he had no choice because republicans suck. i would argue, that's the way the system works. just because you have the presidency doesn't mean you get to suspend the way the system is designed so you can get your agenda through while your party occupies the white house. if you do this then it's just a race to the bottom. whichever party is willing to push the boundaries of executive power the most gets its agenda through. so, it's more than a bit galling when obama lovers gripe about authoritarian trump taking over and doing unconstitutional things when they were pretty much silent on obama doing the same stuff, to a lesser degree.
  • you would think that after W, democrats would be a bit wary of too much executive power and military overreach and all the rest, but they didn't seem to learn their lesson. i think part of this was the notion that there was a demographic shift in the country so they thought it was literally impossible to lose the presidency. oops. meanwhile, there's the party of small government (republicans) that has factions in it that are very prone to authoritarianism, strong military presence, etc. they should be the check when it comes to presidential power, but are every bit as power hungry as the democrats. one reason i think W was so bad is that he was the worst of both worlds. big government, big spender, bad on environment, bad on foreign entanglements, etc. he basically was picking the worst policies of each party. seems like a nice guy, though.
  • saw a bit of the zurich track and field meet a couple weeks back. mo farah is just phenomenal. he bided his time the entire race and then took over. with about 200m left he had 4 strong challengers, but i told the people i was eating with that no one outkicks farah. well, let's just say it was close. honestly, i got a bit worried at the end and was surprised to see that they kept up with him, but farah refuses to lose in the stretch. he's basically unbeatable in this scenario. he's truly one of the best ever...up there with haile gebrselassie.
  • SF and KS are interesting test cases. in kansas brownback basically ran an experiment where he cut taxes and services and all the usual conservative wet dream stuff and it apparently didn't go so well, though getting hard data on this and comparing it to other states in the region for an apples to apples comparison, is beyond what i'm willing to do. but, all the usual suspects say it was a failure of conservative economic policy and i'm basically willing to accept that. SF, meanwhile, is run by liberal people top to bottom and they have an absolutely abhorrent problem with drug abuse and homelessness. they have all the tax revenues they could hope for, but the homelessness has been a visible blight for as long as i've gone there. either they have liberal policies that have completely failed or the liberal people who run the place are so deeply hypocritical that they refuse to address the homeless problem. two small case studies that aren't really case studies, but i think they show the weakness of extreme left/right politics. in both cases i think reasonable people would have to conclude that whatever it is the people there are doing, it's not making those problems any better. need a left wing and right wing to fly.
  • DADA. data, analysis, decision, action. i see a lot of people who have intractable problems in their lives which are only intractable because they don't follow DADA. collect data on what the problem is. analyze the data. make a decision about what course of action to take. take said course of action.
  • was listening to michael krasny on KQED the other day and he brought up TS Eliot for some literary reason. but he didn't just mention eliot, instead he felt it necessary to remind us all that apparently eliot was a horrible anti-semite. i found this interesting in light of the monuments debate we're having lately. eventually, people like krasny are going to bring up the writings of jefferson or washington and feel compelled to remind us that they both were slave owners. "speaking of great american buildings...monticello is great example of neoclassical architecture, even though it was built by the rapist and slave owner thomas jefferson, who i would spit on if i could."
  • have i talked about this yet? basically, i think we're getting thinner and thinner skin these days. couple that with a move in popular "right thinking" culture to thinking that government is the answer to all our problems, and you have a pretty bad mix. you don't have an inalienable right to not have your feelings hurt. government shouldn't be around to protect your feelings. neither should your school. i pretty much reject the idea of a safe space if that means you want a space where your feelings aren't going to be hurt by ideas you may not agree with. if, by safe space, you mean that there should be a space to safely explore all sorts of ideas, then i'm all for that. some people who seem to be doing this sort of exploration correctly are josh zepps, sam harris and glenn loury...they all have podcasts that do a pretty good job of exploring some interesting ideas in a mostly respectful way.

  • 9/5/17 (20:01)

  • the primary reason i buy so much on amazon, as opposed to everywhere else, is because it's easy. one click shopping. i can easily choose multiple shipping addresses, multiple cards (business, personal, shared account, etc.). i went to usps.com to buy some stamps and they wanted me to setup an account, a rectal examination, they want the name of my first love, the city i was born in...they want me to choose yet another fucking password to manage, etc. it's just too much fucking crap. i have too much stuff going on in my life as it is. too many customers asking me to do shit, too many passwords and shit to manage....just buy everything from amazon and my life is easier. maybe i pay a couple bucks more for the same coil of 100 stamps, but that's the profit that amazon gets for making my life easier. meanwhile, everyone else wants to make my life more difficult. my bank holds deposited funds for weeks. my sole employee calls in sick. my customers change shit on me left and right. ups doesn't pick up returns when they're supposed to. my tax preparer can't deliver my stubs in a consistent manner. my dumpster rental place doesn't work in richmond because they say richmond has an agreement with one rental company and won't allow anyone else to do business in town (she straight up called them the mob). basically, i can't rely on much these days, but at least amazon generally makes my life easier.
  • been very hot here lately. it was 92 in the house the other day. trying to sleep when it's that hot kinda sucks. the girls have fans, but we don't. it's also warmer upstairs so it's probably about even. they were great about it.
  • i need to listen to more music.


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