12/23/17 (20:55)
  • good site to see how the GOP tax bill may affect you. all this stuff is way complicated and differs a lot from individual to individual, even if you're making the same amount, but it's a good place to start. basically, 75% of people are going to get a tax cut for at least the next 8 years. after that, who knows.
  • what's interesting to me is to see where people come down on this bill as it's a real intersection of principles vs. individual interests. let's say you are one of the 75% of people who is going to get less of your paycheck taken by the federal government as a result of this plan. that would seemingly make you like the plan. however, that gets complicated because some people (like me) are more afraid of the added debt that the federal government is racking up than we are interested in the projected $1900 savings that i'll get from this bill. my principles are that we need to collectively stop taking so many deductions (including the mortgage interest deduction which i use) and start getting our yearly defiicts in order. republicans used to claim they were for this, but, in reality, they lower taxes and increase spending basically every chance they get. they lowered taxes under reagan, W, and now trump. they increased deficits under reagan, W, and probably now trump.
  • one argument a lot of conservatives will use when a tax cut goes through is this: if you're such a liberal person and you want the government to take more money so it can afford more social programs, then why don't you just write a check to the treasury? i don't think the argument makes all that much sense because i think the liberal position is that we should all pitch in and pay what we can to help those who can't help themselves. it kinda only works if we all do it and we're not all going to do it unless we're forced.
  • personally i wish the federal government did less. if it did less then we could pay the same taxes and not have the debt hanging over us all the time. i

  • 12/20/17 (19:33)

  • net neutrality seems to be the big story lately. i think it should be the law, but i find it a bit odd because that's not how things currently are. there are a couple providers that allow you to stream on youtube (or whatever site/service they choose) without it counting against your mobile data plan. i'm not sure how this is any different from a non-net neutral situation. giving away some for free is the same as charging for others and is arguably worse that throttling the speed for some sites. i mostly think that this will be solved by the market and/or the states so i'm not as worried as most heavy internet users seem to be.
  • something else i've seen lately is talk about home broadband access as a human right. i've written about this before in the context of the creeping notion of "rights" as basically anything that people in the western world think is good to have (health insurance, internet access, etc.). i think internet access is potentially extremely beneficial for individuals and i'm all for it being in as many places as possible for as cheaply as possible. that said, i think it's interesting that people who talk about this often talk about it in terms of "broadband access at home." this is different from "internet access." it seems that most people these days access the internet on their phone as much or more than at home. so, if you're arguing that internet access in the country is awful then you use the metric "broadband access at home," but if you're trying to assess actual internet access per individual you should use the broader definition of "internet access."
  • a big problem in politics 10 years ago was the idea that money bought elections. then citizens united came along and (often liberal) people (including me) were very upset about this. but as it turns out, money doesn't really determine the outcome as much as we thought. money doesn't buy elections: one, two, three. trump is the big example of this. he was outspent by all sorts of candidates including jeb and hillary and still won.
  • roy moore was outspent 10:1 and barely lost. here's how the coverage of that election actually went: "republicans would rather vote for a pedophile than a democrat." and "better thank blacks for turning out and electing doug jones instead of the pedophile." now, i have no love for roy moore or any of his policies, but this is just the dumbest possible way to interpret the election. republican turnout was quite low relative to 2016. this effect was especially true in the more educated republican districts, which were more likely to vote for jones than for hillary in 2016. so, a lot of republican voters didn't bother to vote at all, of those who did, a lot more voted for write-in candidates than in the past, and the more educated ones tended to vote for jones. this reality doesn't comport with the narrative that evil republicans like pedophiles more than democrats. further, jones was a particularly bold choice for democrats and hard pill to swallow for republicans primarily because he supports abortion rights. if you look at the election in a more nuanced way then it's not quite as easy to simply say that alabama republicans are pedophile supporters. as i mentioned before, you only need to imagine being in their shoes to understand the closeness of the race. factor in the other items mentioned above and it all makes for a more nuanced story.

  • 12/1/17 (22:43)

  • usc won the pac-12 championship so that's good news. good team this year overall. they had some injuries to the o-line and both their lines actually had a few rough games, but they lost to two pretty good teams so i think they're back to competing at a high level again and last year wasn't a fluke. darnold is the real deal, but turns the ball over way too much. not sure where they'll end up. rose bowl is taken this year so that's kind of a bummer. they're forecasting fiesta bowl vs. tcu, which isn't very exciting because they're not a big name. i always feel like those are lose-lose situations. the perception is that usc should beat any team out there other than big name schools like OSU, TX, ND, AL, etc. even if boise state or TCU or whomever is really good, it feels like it should be a win. that's the downside of being a storied program. the upside is that you have a built-in recruiting advantage over TCU.
  • had my biggest concrete pour to date today. didn't go well. i called the concrete company a couple days ago for a delivery and they couldn't get it out to me until today at 1:30p. i knew that was going to be pretty late and i wanted to get it done today. instead of shopping around i stupidly decided to go to the landscape supply yard and have them mix up some for me and tow it in their trailer. they do this all the time and i used it once before to do the slab in the garage at picardy. well, this time the mix i got was super wet and since the weather has been cool and the slab didn't get any sun, it stayed wet and the bleed water didn't go anywhere. finally we tried to finish it at about 430p and it was still soupy as fuck. there was no way of saving it. i troweled it out and as best i could tell (it was dark by then) it looks like crap. guess we'll see what the customer says. they're putting a hot tub over it so maybe they won't be too picky, but i have a feeling i'm going to be jackhammering it all up and doing it again next week. these are the joys of owning your own business. as an employee there's nothing you can do that will lose you money. you can be malicious or completely incompetent over a long period of time and get fired, but you'll never lose money, or pay someone to do a job for them (if you really fuck up).
  • luckily i think i've only paid someone to work at their house once before. i was fixing a cabinet that she put together incorrectly and as i was taking the back off to rebuild it, it collapsed and was instantly destroyed. cost me $200 and i still had to build it and install it. so i basically paid her about $100 to do that job for her. if this slab needs to be taken out i'll be out the cost of labor to demo, the dump fees, more concrete, and the labor to reinstall. fun times.
  • heard a stat from freakonomics that 25% of people who make 100-150k/year "can't come up with $2,000 in 30 days." i find this to be astonishingly pathetic. in other words, they can't scrounge up 1 week's earnings in 4 weeks. the researchers purposely worded it as "come up with" because they wanted to allow for people borrowing, using credit cards, using social resources, etc. if you make that much money and you can't come up with 2% of your salary because you have a bad transmission, then you're making bad decisions.
  • here's the thing when it comes to personal finance, and a lot of other life decisions, these days. i find that there are fewer and fewer legitimate excuses for not taking control of your life to the extent that a quarter of people who are pretty damn well off can't come up with $2k. when you're making that much money it has almost everything to do with your decisions and these days those decisions are so easy to farm out. the amount of good personal finance advice out there is ridiculous. there are sites and communities dedicated to eating cheap and healthy, to establishing emergency funds, to living frugally, to bettering your credit, etc. all of which would allow you to manage a problem on the order of 2% of your yearly income. all that said, i guarantee that there are people who will see that 25% number and feel sorry for those poor people making six figures who must live in expensive cities or have such awful lives that they can't even afford to fix their transmission. at some point, we have to start holding people accountable for their decisions. right?

  • 11/25/17 (20:08)

  • college football is looking at some potential chaos scenarios that are pretty interesting. 538 said last week that USC had about a 25% chance of getting into the playoff, but i still consider that to be bogus.
  • alabama should be out, but you never know. wisconsin holds their fate in their hands. same with oklahoma. there's a decent chance that a two loss team could make it in. ohio state could beat wisconsin and they would have a decent claim to getting in. i don't think they deserve it, especially after how they showed up last year against clemson. of course i'd like to see usc in there, but they don't deserve it even if they win out. anyway, lots of interesting scenarios to consider.
  • watching the WA/WA ST game and found i was actually learning a few things from the color commentator. turns out it was brady quinn. this is the second time i've noticed he's done a good job, so i guess he's pretty good, even if he's from ND.
  • here's an interesting thought experiment - would you rather vote for bill clinton or mitt romney? assuming they're the same age. basically everyone i know is liberal so i assume they'd all instantly say bill clinton. you can say he's more experienced or he's better on the issues or he's not out of touch like romney. what's interesting about all this, though, is that the cause du jour is sexual assault against women and bill clinton has been accused of sexual assault and rape multiple times. enough times that you have to assume there's something to the charges. i'm wondering if i know anyone who would be able to hold their nose and vote for someone like mitt romney over an alleged sexual assaulter like clinton. i think thinking about it like this allows you to view the republicans' ability to vote for a despicable person like trump over someone like hillary. party and political issues win out over personal conduct.
  • the big one that got legs against clinton was monica and the typical response was always that it was consensual and no one should have asked him about it (which is why he ended up perjuring himself). but as louis c.k. recently pointed out in his apology, it's about power. he had power over the women he entrapped. he had their respect and admiration and took advantage of that. surely this is true of clinton times 10.
  • i think the outrage over the issue from the democrats today is in contrast to their defense during the clinton era. this is why this issue with clinton is getting relitigated again today. at some point the republicans have to stop bringing this up. they really do seem to be obsessed with the clintons for some reason...they bring up hillary in their coverage even today. but, i do think it's fair of them to bring up the obvious and relevant hypocrisy of democrats on the sexual assault issue. democrats have long been up in arms about this issue with trump, but they have some splaining to do when it comes to their like of outrage during the clinton years and the issues that have been coming out lately with weinstein and many other prominent democratic celebrities.
  • imagine an alternate universe wherein ronald reagan encourages his secretary/mistress to get an abortion. republicans say you shouldn't meddle in his affairs. 20 years later a bunch of koch brother, ted nugent, chuck norris types are found to have also encouraged their mistresses/wives/whatever to get abortions. the cries of hypocrisy would be never-ending (and well-earned),
  • since i'm talking about the past and hypocrisy. what about ice cube? he went on bill maher's show a while back and chastised him for using the n word. gave him a hard time and said it was our word now and you can't use it. he said he likes maher, but you can't get too comfortable and use that word. okay, that's fair imo. but to what extent should we look back at ice cube's lyrics and see if he applies the same thinking to his music? obviously he uses the n word all the time, but i'm not talking about that. what about his treatment of women in his songs? what about his use of the word fag? he's called easy e a faggot in at least one song i can think of and he's used the word fag derisively elsewhere as well. what about how he treats asians in a song like black korea?
  • i wonder where this stuff is going to end. everyone seems to be getting caught up in this endless looking back nowadays. everything you've ever done is likely to be on trial if you're a public figure. and it's only going to get worse as we move on because more and more stuff is online now and cameras are everywhere and critics grown on trees.
  • i really think identity politics are tearing us apart more than anytime since i've been alive. i think the democrats are actually pulling these strings more than the republicans, but both are playing this game and it's dangerous and unhelpful. i could go into this a lot more, but i just don't have the energy right now. relatedly. also, jonathan haidt is someone i've been following for a few years now. this guy really seems to get the political landscape in a way few people do because they are so wrapped up in their own team's righteousness that they're blind to the other side.
  • right thinking people know why trump is so dangerous. but what i wish more of those people got upset about was the expansion of executive power during those times when their team (democrats) are in power. obama uses the executive order to an unprecedented level and they say it was necessary. democratic congress uses the nuclear option and they turn a blind eye. this kind of stuff normalizes bad behavior and makes the executive more powerful. seems acceptable when it's for a good cause and seems horrible when your worst enemy has that same power.
  • another thing right thinking people need to get under control is their sense of outrage and fear mongering. i remember people talking about bush being the worst president ever (i actually almost agree with this one). "he's going to institute martial law." "he's going to suspend elections." "diebold fixed the election for him." etc. romney came along and he was morally corrupt, the worst of the 1%, he's got binders full of women, who knows what he's hiding in his taxes, etc. trump comes along and it's the same song and dance. at some point both sides need to dial back the rhetoric or else normal people aren't going to believe them anymore. i've wised up. i never really believed the republicans when they said that shit and now i don't believe the democrats either. and i think most smart people probably get that this is just the game they play. "chris, you're taking it too seriously...of course they're going to smear romney as badly as bush and trump even though he may not be as bad." but at what point do they pay the price for this? the answer is never. because those same people won't ever hold their party accountable for muddying the waters with bullshit. and then they wonder why politics is such a dirty business. why both sides are so scummy. because it works and they never pay the price. some people sit out of the game entirely, but that doesn't bother the parties.
  • i think all the harvey weinstein and related outings is great. the paradise papers, too. there's no such thing as privacy for these people anymore...at least it's getting to be less and less. the downside is that you can't believe in people like bono anymore. all these people are tainted. so many of them hide their money or molest people or whatever. it was good to see ben affleck confirmed as a piece of shit. i've suspected as much for a while now.
  • i'm hoping that the child molesters in hollywood are going to get outed next. corey feldman has been rumbling about this for a while. elijah wood also commented on this a while back. i don't doubt that there's more to this waiting to be outed like the weinstein thing.
  • something that gets peoples' blood boiling is talking about the fairness of our tax system. this is getting debated a lot now with the gop tax plan. it also came up a lot with romney and trump and their taxes either not being release or finding out that they don't pay very much in taxes. i think there are some issues like this with individuals on the margins (hedge fund managers are a classic example), but, from my research, it looks to me like 1) our tax system is more progressive than many liberals would have you believe when they talk about anecdotes like romney and 2) if should be thanking the rich who pay more than their fair share. so, i'm not talking here about hedge fund managers who get by on the carried interest loophole or romney/trump types who make a lot of money on capital gains which used to be taxed at a lower rate. what i'm going to talk about is the broad group of people known as the rich...i'll just present some facts and hopefully that will give a view that isn't really talked about in most of the mainstream media when it comes to sound bites and platitudes and horse shit about this topic.
  • people who earn $250k+ a year make up just 2.7% of all the tax filers yet they pay 51.6% of all the income taxes. that's according to pew. "In 2014, people with adjusted gross income, or AGI, above $250,000 paid just over half (51.6%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted for only 2.7% of all returns filed, according to our analysis of preliminary IRS data. Their average tax rate (total taxes paid divided by cumulative AGI) was 25.7%. By contrast, people with incomes of less than $50,000 accounted for 62.3% of all individual returns filed, but they paid just 5.7% of total taxes. Their average tax rate was 4.3%."
  • the lowest quintile pays an effective tax rate of 3.9%. the top quintile pays an effective rate of 24.9%. the top 1% pays an effective rate of 31.9%. source.
  • so, we can look at that and surmise that the rich do pay a lot of taxes. maybe that's never been the argument. maybe the argument is that the rich may pay a lot, but they get a lot more. so, let's look at that....
  • the top 25% earns about 69% of all income and pay about 87% of all income taxes.
  • the top 1% earns about 21% of all income and pays about 39% of all income taxes.
  • the top 1% pays 39.48% of all the income taxes and the bottom 50% pays 2.5% of all income taxes.
  • in every case the top earners are paying a greater share of the taxes than the income share that they earn. table below.
  • these are data for income taxes, but even when you take into account payroll taxes, which are less progressive than income taxes (some would argue they're regressive since only the first $118,500 of earning are taxed), the trend is the same - the rich pay much more than everyone else and pay a greater share of the total taxes than their earnings.
  • so, it's clear to me that the issue isn't in the broad strokes of individual income taxes. it's in the details and the recesses where the ultra-rich are able to hide and where corporations are able to crony their way into low tax burdens. off shoring earnings, getting tax loopholes written for them, etc. but, like identity politics, this shouldn't be a rich vs. poor or black vs. white thing. i think most of the rich are paying more than their fair share. we need to do a better job of going after the weasels who find ways to avoid paying what they should.
  • here's how pew puts it (emphasis mine): "Still, that analysis confirms that, after all federal taxes are factored in, the U.S. tax system as a whole is progressive. The top 0.1% of families pay the equivalent of 39.2% and the bottom 20% have negative tax rates (that is, they get more money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits than they pay in taxes)."
  • there's one other thing i'll say beyond getting the tax avoiders to pay up, and that is the death tax needs to stay around. call it an estate tax or death tax or whatever, and in principle i kinda disagree with it because i think you should be able to pass on your wealth to your kids, but it's really destructive in the long run when you have accumulations of wealth and power. the death tax needs to limit these powerful families from being multi-generational hoarders of wealth and influence. i think the point at which it kicks in should be fairly high (it's about $5 million now) and i would probably raise that lower limit to $10 million or something, but the tax rate should be pretty high when you talk about billion dollar families passing on their wealth to their progeny. under $10 million estate being passed on gets a very low tax rate, like 5% or something. above that and it gets taxed at 50% or higher.

  • 11/15/17 (22:33)

  • don't listen to them enough, but rage against the machine are still awesome in my book.
  • as busy as ever trying to juggle so many projects and competing interests. trying to take fewer jobs and focus on bigger things.

  • been getting back into metal lately. judas priest, megadeth and the classics. there's a lot of stuff i don't really like, but there's a decent amount of really good stuff, too, if you don't mind being 30 years behind the curve.

    10/26/17 (19:43)

  • i've thought a lot about the seahawks' loss to the patriots when everyone wanted them to give the ball to marshawn. i remember them being in that position and saying "just run the ball four times...actually, a play action would be good right now." the thought i had was two fold: time was a consideration and a play action when everyone was expecting a run would be a good way of catching the defense off guard. well, we all know what happened and pete carroll got plenty of monday morning quarterbacking on that one. but here's the best analysis of that play that i've read, and it was from reddit: "On the year, Marshawn was only '1 of 5' on goal-line (1 yard) attempts. And *only* '1 of 4' on 4th and 1 attempts. Besides Marshawn's poor conversion rates on short yardage situations (so far that year), the play was 2nd and goal with 22 second left and 1 timeout. (Barring the interception) with a pass attempt, two more plays could be run with the full playbook. With a rush attempt on 2nd, not getting in would require burning the final time-out.  The 3rd down attempt would *have to be* a pass since no more time-outs would be available.  This limits the play-book and lets the defense *know* a pass is coming. The pass attempt on 2nd preserved an open playbook for 3rd and 4th down. The Seahawks also went with Lynch on 4th and 1 in overtime on the season opener in their next game, and [this happened]."
  • so, if you want to remember that play as a pete carroll blunder, then go for it, but i think there's strong evidence that it was actually a very good playcall given the situation. unfortunately the DB made a great jump on the ball and neither the receiver nor wilson made a better play in that particular instance.



    10/24/17 (19:27)

  • maybe i'm just getting old, but there seems to be a distinction missing these days when it comes to earning something vs. deserving something. it sure seems as though a sizable portion of people these days think that a lot of things are owed to them by birthright. people have broadened the definition of "deserve" and "right" so much that it's become almost useless. there's little distinction now between wants and needs. i think it goes along with a lot of society lately moving in a generally post modern direction. basically it seems like a lot of language and traditional boundaries are being pushed so much and so rapidly, that their meanings are diluted to the point of almost being useless.
  • is sexual assault worse than regular assault? i think the general impulse is to say yes, but it might not always be the case. if you think of ray rice punching his girlfriend in the face then that may be considered worse than a woman grabbing a dude's ass in a bar. but, aside from some instances on the ends of the spectrum, sexual assault seems to be a lot worse than everyday assault. so, if someone punches a guy then that sucks, but it's not considered a life changing event. if that same guy grabs a woman's breast then that's considered very traumatic. there are a lot of articles, for example, about PTSD after sexual assault. and if you google PTSD and assault you'll see stuff almost entirely having to do with sexual assault, not trauma resulting from a mugging gone wrong or a bar fight or something. i think at least part of this is because women tend to be the greatest victims of sexual assault (as far as we know) and society wants to shelter and protect women far more than men. it's a weird dynamic because if you're trying to be completely progressive about the topic you would think that women shouldn't be sheltered because they can take care of themselves and aren't "the fairer sex." yet, it's because of that attitude that we place such a taboo on sexual assault and consider rape against women among the worst things a person can do (child rape and murder being the only other two that could compare).
  • is google too big to fail? there are a lot of people who rely on them as much as they rely on their bank or power company or whatever.
  • there was a poll that 538 talked about which asked people which is a bigger threat in the u.s.: nazis or the media. i don't remember what the numbers were, but maybe 20% came back and said the media and people were kinda aghast by this. to me, this is actually the right answer. i rate nazis in america as a very low level threat to our way of life. nazis are worse than the media, but that's not the question. the question is about which entity can do, or is doing, more harm in the u.s. right now. there's no question in my mind that the media is a huge part of the problem we have right now. from the way they report on science to politics. the sound bites, the 24 hour news media, the empty coverage, the sensationalism...there are a million ways in which the media is fucking our culture and society on a daily basis. so, yeah, they're doing way more damage than a few thousand idiot nazis.
  • went to the WSU game the other week with my dad. we've now seen USC play at all the pac-12 stadiums except OSU and UCLA. we'll hit both of those next year. the game was good in absolute terms, but we were on the wrong end once again. i really believed sam darnold would pull it off. he relishes those moments so much, but this year his offensive line has been shit and i think he's taking too much on his shoulders. he has the tools to be great, but he's not making great decisions right now. the stadium itself wasn't anything special. the town is out in the middle of nowhere and we didn't drive around much because it was a 14 hour drive. but the scenery in the surrounding area was really nice. it was also a good crowd and i experienced both the loudest moment in a live game and the quietest. when we were down and driving down the field to try to tie it up (i think) we had a 4th and 7 conversion where we made a really good catch, but the ball was in the air and it wasn't clear if the receiver was going to come down with it or not. the crowd was completely silent for about a second. it was kinda surreal. conversely, when darnold fumbled the ball to effectively end the game, the crowd was as loud as i've ever heard. they went absolutely nuts.
  • so, here's our USC road trip tally...it hasn't been pretty:
  • WSU - L (we were ranked #4)
  • WA - W (WA was ranked #4?)
  • UTAH - L (close game, nicest fans ever)
  • ORE - L (dick fans)
  • CO - W (coldest game)
  • ASU - L (90+ degrees at 10p, kiffen gets fired)
  • AZ - L
  • CAL - W (most harassment faced on the pac-12 tour - "take off that red shirt")
  • STAN - L (great game against andrew luck. worst parking experience)



    10/5/17 (20:06)

  • for those who care about politics and political discourse. listen to it.



    10/2/17 (20:15)

  • i wrote the other day about getting older and realizing that a lot of the way society works is actually the way it is for a good reason. part of being a pretty liberal person is that you question everything and are more willing to change things about society. that's one of the older definitions of being liberal or left wing - basically that you're willing to break away from tradition. the problem with taking this too far is that you can dismantle institutions like marriage which have some negatives, or are associated with negative things (like historic oppression of women), simply because there are a few negatives. especially when you're young you're likely to embrace left wing thought because the older generation seems oppressive with their idea of how you should live your life, their crusty old rules, etc. this is what the Graduate is mostly about, imo. ben and elaine break away from the traditions of the church and their parents and go their own way. of course the reality of this hits them at the end and so they have that somber look. breaking away from tradition and going your own way is extremely important and this is one reason why i love that film so much. we shouldn't go without questioning tradition (shirley jackson's The Lottery is my favorite example of this).
  • however, and this seems lost to those on the far left, we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. traditional gender roles are harmful to both men and women. traditional marriage where the woman is basically a piece of property is wrong in all sorts of ways. this doesn't mean that marriage (or something approximating it) itself is inherently bad. and now to why i brought this up... it occurs to me that a lot of people today are putting the cart before the horse when it comes to sex. i've heard and read of plenty of situations where the woman (usually) has trouble asking for the guy to use a condom or where the guy doesn't want to ask the girl if she's comfortable because he doesn't want to miss out on his chance to get some. but there are a million issues with sex that aren't brought up between people because they don't love and trust each other before engaging in sex. because of sexual liberation and this flawed thinking that you're breaking the bonds of traditional society by flouting its mores, we get situations where people are having sex without having trust beforehand. traditionally there is supposed to be at least some level of commitment and trust before having sex. this sets things up for much greater success all around. people are less likely to be embarrassed, pushed into an uncomfortable situation, etc. of course the most important aspect is that there's going to theoretically be a good home for the baby should that happen. all this is to say that we need tradition (conservatives) and we need change (liberals) in order to have a well functioning society.
  • a big part of all this is the journey of figuring out what traditions are there for good reason and which ones are artifacts of stayed power structures...and which parts of traditions are necessary, and which parts can change. if we keep marriage, or some sort of long-term commitment as i'm suggesting, does that mean that we keep every element of it? dowry? man/woman only? two people only? the traditional gender roles that are associated with it? and all this upheaval can be difficult for traditionalists because they think everything around them is changing and they fear what's next. it's why change must necessarily happen slowly. this is the genius of the founders' system and it's the trouble with the expansion of executive power which undermines things happening slowly and deliberately.
  • anyway, back to the graduate for a moment. i've had more than a few people comment on the final seconds of the graduate when ben and elaine's expression changes from happy to somber, pregnant even. i've had people say things like "yeah, but they weren't even happy in the end, their faces changed." and my reaction is "yeah, that's the best part." otherwise it's just folly. they've broken away from their parents...that's hard, but the truly hard part is yet to come. this is sort of the existential crisis of the post-modernist. there are no rules, we've broken them all. god is dead, so now i have to make my own rules. "wait, i have to make up my own rules about everything?" and, "if i'm a thoughtful and good person, then this is a great weight. it's not the unbridled freedom that the young me thought it was...it's heavy shit to have to figure out where i draw the line on everything now."
  • look again at the scene where they look back at the church and see that they've escaped their parents. they turn back towards the front of the bus and all the old passengers are looking back at them, backwards. the past is in the background of the shot, the bus is moving forward, ben and elaine are looking forward, and the old people are looking backwards. this is perfect. then the sound of silence starts. the sound of silence...it's the abyss staring back at them. they've decided to live their lives on their terms and now that reality is hitting them. one of the best scenes in film history and the best film ever made.
  • the good, the bad, and the ugly duel is also up there. just pure cinema.
  • so, last night we had another mass shooting. this one was pretty extreme. 500+ people injured, 50+ killed. there's a cost of freedom. i think we have to start there. the question after that just becomes what freedoms are we willing to live without to have safety? what level of safety is reasonable? we've seen trucks hijacked and run into crowds in europe (87 died in Nice, 434 injured). we've seen guns used to kill dozens here. 69 people were killed in a single attack in norway, where they have fairly strict gun laws. the point being that dedicated, insane people will always be able to kill large numbers of people. we have to decide to what extent we are willing to give up freedoms in order to minimize these, knowing full well that we'll never eliminate them altogether. we have to have that reasonable conversation. reasonable people have to say i can wait another two weeks to get my gun if it means guns will be harder to get for psychos. people pushing gun bans have to come to the reasonable position that guns aren't inherently bad, they're not only for killing people, and that banning them altogether is actually a pretty silly response for a lot of reasons.

  • this narrative that these mass killing events are exclusive to the u.s. is no longer true. i don't know if we have more of them per capita than western europe (i would guess we do), but it doesn't seem that far apart recently. i think this is just the new normal and an unfortunate byproduct of modern society and freedom. i don't know what we can reasonably do to get where we all want to get (close to zero deaths). maybe japan has some insight.

    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.

    8/19/17 (20:22)

  • grand theft auto encourages violence against white douche bags.
  • i wonder what percentage of the antifa crowd and the white supremacist crowd are just young, dumb trolls looking for excitement. here's one of them.
  • we live in pretty absurd times. there are a lot of prank videos out there where people just jump over the counter at dunkin' donuts or whatever, steal a bunch of donuts, and then run away. basically just videos of people running into a place, stealing shit and then leaving. meryl's stepdad was actually at a market the other day when this happened. security guard basically just looked at them and let them do their thing. if this isn't the break down of the rule of law then i'm not sure what is. another one happened on BART a couple weeks ago where a few teens came on the train and robbed a woman (not the first time). if these folks get caught it's probably only because they take video of it and post it themselves. we can't, and shouldn't, have cops everywhere. however, the general attitude is one where people basically just let this shit happen. this is company policy at any corporate job i've ever heard of. when i was working at tower records the policy was to take down the description of the person stealing stuff and report it to loss prevention or your supervisor. DON"T go after them is the overwhelming policy. and i understand why - you run after them and trip and hurt yourself or hurt them during a fight or something, and the company gets sued by your surviving family members, by the thief, etc. so, it's never worth losing a few CDs or donuts to risk a confrontation. i understand all that. that being said, this shit has to end at some point. the way the current policies and laws are being enforced creates a situation where people are very unlikely to ever be punished for their actions. the one time we had a thief make a run for it while i was working i chased after him. after a couple blocks of me right on his heels he ditched the CD player he stole and got away. didn't tell anyone so i didn't get fired. at some point we need to do something better than just standing around letting assholes terrorize us.
  • chomsky got it right about antifa. basically they create an opposite that balances out the white supremacists. it may be a false equivalency, but i suppose it depends how you evaluate that. part of what i was trying to get at in the post below is the fake "left/right" dichotomy. supposedly nazis are far right actors; they're now part of the "alt-right." and, supposedly, antifa is part of the far left. in reality, they're all just extremists. it doesn't matter that they may be on the same "side" of the spectrum as you - they probably don't align with your views very much. this is important for your own selfish reasons (if you're on the left you probably don't want to be aligned with the antifa hoodlums), but it also might humanize the people who you think of as opposed to you. so, if you're a clinton voter, a "right thinking person" who agrees with the intellectual establishment and all that they you might be inclined to lump all trump supporters together since they're all on the right. and nazis are on the right also, so, by proxy, trump supporters are even more racist than you already thought. the flip works as well. i've talked with a lot of hardcore conservatives and they basically think all liberals are the same.
  • basically we should think of it like the picture below. political compass is a bit better than the left/right straight line spectrum. 80% of the people you'll meet are inside the circle, with antifa, nazis, white supremacists, new black panther party, etc. all outside of that circle. if you visualize it this way then it's a lot easier to just call them all extremists instead of being tempted to say the one on "your side" isn't as bad or feeling like you have to defend them in any way. unfortunately this isn't quite as nice for the media. instead of left vs. right, it's extremists vs. normal people. left vs. right fits more nicely into the democrats vs. the republicans. it works out better as a narrative. it allows each side to call the other side hypocritical when the extremists act up. the other thing i like about my circle way of thinking about is that you have all the normal people inside as if we're all in it together, and then you have everyone else. just because they agree with me on libertarian economic policies doesn't mean they're like me. they're out of the circle so they're not one of us. i'm not into the us vs. them thing, but it might be a better option than what we have now where it's basically 40% on the left vs. 40% on the right. in our current situation you have about 80% of the country involved in this us vs. them war. the 40% on the right think the 40% on the left are nuts and vise versa. in the circle model it's 80% vs. 20%, instead of 40% vs. 40% with 20% undecided. anyway, it's a thought.
  • when rick rubin dies it'll be a sad day.

  • 8/15/17 (17:13)
  • well, another nail in the coffin of race relations and being able to get along with each other in this country and trust in the media, was pounded in this weekend. charlottesville is the latest in the list of unfortunate events that we've had to deal with. there's a lot to unpack here. i'm watching trump's remarks on it now so i'll just address things in the order that they come up. here's a bit of a primer on what happened.
  • he makes a slippery slope argument about taking down monuments of robert e. lee or southern heroes and how that may one day turn into george washington, etc. at first blush this seems a bit too much. i don't think i've heard cries to get rid of statues of the founding fathers. that said, i can guarantee that there are some out there who hold that opinion. the founding fathers owned slaves, thought blacks were only 3/5 human, didn't think women should be allowed to vote, thought you should own property to vote, etc. a lot of liberals pretty much roll their eyes at mention of the constitution since it's such and old and outdated document. couple those two opinions and i don't think you're far from some pushing to stop placing the founders on such a pedestal.
  • at about 7:25 someone (a reporter?) asks "why do nazis like you?" this doesn't pass as great journalism, if you ask me. it's an intriguing question in a way, but i don't think that it helps anything and it's obviously loaded. why does ISIS like obama more than trump? why is the new black panther party (an extremist hate group according to the liberal SPLC) more likely to support obama than romney? why did the nazis like nietzsche? why are there more black separatist groups in the u.s. than neo nazi groups, or white nationalist groups, or KKK chapters? it's just a loaded question that doesn't get us very far.
  • he says a lot along the lines of: "when i make a statement, i want to make sure it's correct." (10:25) not sure how people aren't laughing every time he says this.
  • apparently there's two minutes missing in the NYT version of the press conference. better version. oddly, the NYT version, which has technical difficulties, left out the part where he calls the guy who did this "a murderer and what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing." i'm not a conspiracy guy, but it's kinda funny that the two minutes that were missing from their version contained the very thing so many seem to want to hear from trump: a blanket statement about how bad this action was. that said, he didn't call the guy a terrorist and called that debate an issue of semantics.
  • he asks about the alt-left and if they're to blame for anything. i don't know who the alt-left is, but i assume it's the anti-fa and black bloc people who are following pro-trump rallies around to stir up shit. they did it in berkeley most famously and injured people and damaged property. the left was mostly silent about this and seemed to blame trump and milo yiannopolous for this. this is the maddening thing from my point of view. you really have to be disciplined in how you dole out responsibility for these things. when trump says during a speech that people should shut a person up and that he'll pay the legal fees, that's clearly him inciting violence and stirring shit up. when pro-trump protesters go to a place and anti-fa decides to make it violent, and come prepared to be violent, then that's on them, not milo or anyone else. when this nut job with a dodge decides to drive through a crowd, that's on him, and maybe the group he belongs to - but i don't think you can pin that on trump. here's the closest i think you can get to that: trump has the most important bullhorn in the world and when he doesn't say the right thing then it's possible he's stirring the pot either intentionally (more likely) or out of ignorance.
  • now, while you can say that i don't think it means he's to blame. he's right that this has been going on for a while now. it's been getting worse since watergate. gingrich stepped it up even more. 9/11 brought it up yet another notch. the fringes of the tea party coupled with the financial crisis and the occupy movement, was another step in the wrong direction. now we have trump and it's yet another step down the wrong path. there's a lot going on that feeds into a system that is eating itself. trump is hastening the process more than, say, clinton would have. but this is what happens when you have the following elements in play: unstable leader, inept congress, deep partisan divide, weakening middle class, 24 hour news media motivated solely by money, poor educational system...
  • the core thing that seems to be sticking in the craws of some: trump saying that both sides are to blame for for charlottesville. i think some would call this a false equivalency. sure, the anti-trump folks brought along bats, but it was only to defend themselves. or, hey, it's one thing to bring a bat, it's another to bring a car or a gun. i somewhat i agree with trump on this, though. there's a lot of blame to be spread around on this shit, like i say above. this has been a downward spiral for a while now and there's plenty of dirt on most of the people in power. if you're part of the "punch a nazi" crowd or the anti-fa crowd then you're responsible for raising the rhetoric. remember what the left said after the palin ad with targets on the map? they linked her to the reason gabby giffords was shot. basically both sides are ramping up the rhetoric and body armor during these protests and this kind of thing is inevitable. it's kinda like when a fat loser with a gun and a swollen head follows a hard headed kid around at night. that situation doesn't end well for either party. cough george zimmerman and trayvon martin cough.
  • part of the problem with this and all these political discussions is the idea of a left and right. i've been reading about this stuff for 20 years and i honestly couldn't give you a good definition of the left or the right. here's the spectrum i was taught initially in school. i think it's bullshit:

  • here's another political spectrum, which i was exposed to outside of school. i think it's potentially more useful, but it's not how people actually use left/right or liberal/conservative most of the time so it's not entirely accurate either.

  • this is probably the best one, but it's also limited:

  • my score:

  • my score from 8/12/2011:
  • no surprise that i've moved a bit to the right economically since starting my own business, paying more taxes and getting older. still pretty libertarian when it comes to social matters. i've moved a bit on that according to the quiz, but i think that's probably because i don't give a lot of "strongly agree" or "strongly disagree" answers and maybe i did 6 years ago.
  • last words on the trump press conference...most of the mainstream media is characterizing it as him "going rogue"... "clinically insane" "jaw dropping" "wildly off script" "shocking" "unhinged" this, to me, is a problem. maybe i'm just desensitized to political discourse at this point, but i didn't see much in the speech that fit the bill for any of those adjectives. it was unlike modern presidents, that's for sure. but he's not like most presidents. the stuff he said is tame by political pundit standards. i really wonder if people who are tweeting about this speech have actually seen all 20+ minutes of it. he explicitly says that "the neo nazis and white nationalists...should be condemned totally." (19:13 in the youtube video). he's pretty clear and consistent on that in this press conference, so maybe they're reacting more to it taking him a while to use such strong language against the murderer?
  • i said after he won, that the media had an uphill battle in front of them because they were seen as deeply in pocket of the democrats, but they were going to have to report on a lot of bad stuff from trump (because he was going to earn it). so, in doing what they should be doing they would only reinforce the narrative of a left-wing bias. with that being said, the way they go after him and the way they package everything just feeds the narrative even more than it would if they were dispassionately reporting the facts. they're really doing themselves a disservice in the long-term with all this extreme rhetoric. i consider myself a reasonable guy, but i'm getting to the point where the mainstream just isn't trustworthy anymore. they sensationalize everything and clearly have it in for the guy....and, again, he's earned it, but the media is supposed to be like a judge. just because a murderer comes before you in court doesn't mean you need to lecture him, ask him why he's such a piece of shit, make fun of him, give him the worst possible sentence and otherwise go overboard with your power. you say a few words about how you came to your sentence, you outline the sentence and move onto the next case. call balls and strikes. give context. report on real things that really matter. ignore the trolling tweets. 90% of the media is unable to grasp these simple rules that should be commonplace.
  • in business i think if you have the mindset that people want problems solved then you'll be well-served by that mantra. solve problems for your boss and exceed expectations and you'll do quite well for yourself. this model doesn't work as well in a corporate environment, unfortunately, because corporations don't generally give much autonomy to their managers. this is one of many negative effects of the coporate model. it takes what's already a below average workforce in many ways and incentivizes even more mediocrity or substandard performance.
  • sorta wrote about this the other day when i talked about the liberal echo chamber that is academia today. it's really doing the student a great disservice to be exposed solely to liberal ideas and charactures of token conservative ideas as the occasional straw man. jonathan haidt wrote a book about the left/right divide and how a lot of it is a fundamental inability to understand what the other side values. still haven't gotten around to reading it, but that's pretty much par for the course for me. i should get into audio books. anyway, i'm afraid we're raising a culture of coddled idiots. i don't think it's entirely generational, but it definitely leans in that direction. we need to grow a lot more accustomed to having difficult conversations with people. we need to be able to respectfully discuss big things like politics and religion and money and race as well as bullshit pansy notions like trigger warnings and microaggressions. what happens instead, though, is that the younger generation texts each other anything remotely uncomfortable. they avoid difficult thoughts by going to echo chamber schools. another thing i see is that people sometimes just straight up ignore you nowadays. instead of having a conversation about whatever it is that is bothering them, they'll just ignore your correspondence. this is crazy to me because it's totally accepted. if you're talking to someone in person and they just ignore you when you ask them a question, you're going to think they're insane. but if you ask a clear question via email, it's apparently totally fine for them to ignore it. i'm pretty sure i'm not being a hypocrite on this stuff. if i've ignored something it's because 1) i've forgotten about it (happens with texts, but almost never with emails because texts get pushed to the bottom, but emails stay in my inbox until i address them) or 2) i didn't get it (has been happening with texts lately for some reason).
  • i think we have an epidemic of shitty parenting in this country. some of it boils down to the attitude "you do you." which sounds so lovely and harmonious. it reminds me a bit of veruca salt's mom who says that what counts with children are happiness and harmony. yeah, that's great. give your spoiled little shit head whatever they want in order to keep the peace and let her be her...meanwhile you've raised a solipsistic turd of a kid who isn't going to contribute anything to society. "you do you" is fine on some level, but it's definitely possible to take that too far. kids need some structure and respect for authority (i'm no authoritarian, look above, but still) and understanding that they're not the center of the universe.
  • to tie these two thoughts together, part of raising a kid is teaching them that they're not always going to be comfortable. it's not your right to be comfortable all the time. let that settle in. you don't have a fundamental right to go through life unscathed. you don't have a right to go through life without being offended. you will be offended from time to time. sorry, not sorry. sometimes you're not going to like what people are wearing (like when the old guy said i couldn't get on the amtrak train because i was wearing a shirt that said "let the fucking begin.") sometimes you're not going to like what people are saying or thinking. that's okay. learning to cope with these feelings is like any other thing in life - with practice you will get better at ignoring it or dealing with it constructively. it's not society's responsibility to make you feel happy. it's not my responsibility to keep you from being offended. learn to hone your ability to brush shit off, or else you're going to be a victim your entire life.
  • so, how do you raise a kid who doesn't think they're the center of the universe, who doesn't have the attitude that whatever i do is okay because i'm a beautiful snowflake, who doesn't have the attitude that society needs to change in order to accommodate their tastes and worries and comforts? i don't totally know the answer, but it starts by letting them learn life by doing it themselves. i'm not wiping your ass forever. i'm not talking for you when you can talk. i'm not helping you out of uncomfortable situations. i'm not stopping all conversation because you decide to interrupt me. i'm not going to shield you from every crazy person on the street and i'm not going to avoid the bad neighborhoods just because i don't want you to see poverty. you're not the center of the universe. i love the hell out of you and i've got your back forever, but it's your life and you need to learn to live it.



    8/8/17 (20:34)

  • the google firing thing is starting to get some press. i read a bit of the memo in question as well as excerpts picked by those on the left and those on the right. i gotta say that i agree with a decent amount of what he's saying and there really isn't much in there that i saw, that i would consider worthy of being labeled "controversial" or worthy of getting him fired for creating a hostile work environment or anything (some women didn't go in to work after the memo came out because they said they felt uncomfortable). the reason they gave for firing him, according to the nyt, is that he advanced harmful gender stereotypes. in firing him they only proved his point that they are intolerant of differing views. this kind of thing shouldn't come as any surprise. i think he nailed it when he wrote about the leftist echo chamber that silicon valley and google have become.
  • it's odd because in the abstract you can get people in the bay area to agree that echo chambers are bad and that groupthink is bad and that diversity of ideas is a good concept, but in reality they pretty much won't give you the time of day if you're a republican, if you voted for trump, if you broach the topic of the gender pay gap myth, if you push back against the SJW stuff, if you question anything but full and complete equity (not equality) for any and all groups they feel are disenfranchised. this reminds me a lot of how conservatives (especially after 9/11) were blind in their acceptance of anything the military said or did, called into question your patriotism if you questioned g.w. bush or his policies, etc. it's really remarkable to see how it's just two sides of the same coin in so many ways.
  • i've said it before, but it's something that doesn't get a lot of discussion. whenever we think of diversity people will generally think of it in terms of gender and race. maybe religion now that muslims are considered an oppressed minority worthy of liberal protection, but it basically comes down to just a couple crude ways that we have of dividing each other. to me, it should be much more granular than that. it should also depend upon context. if you're talking about diversity within a neighborhood then i would want things like racial and economic diversity in my neighborhood. if i were choosing a college then i would probably want diversity of ideas from the professors and diversity of geography for the students. i think a lot more could be learned at a university like USC that has 24% international students, as opposed to UCB which has 12% international students. a middle class hispanic kid from california is going to bring a less challenging point of view than a middle class kid from china or austraila. and if i'm learning for professors do i want a black liberal professor or a white liberal professor? who cares, they have the same view about how the world works and should work. they may have arrived to the same conclusion in different ways, but, by definition, they both have similar views about the role of the government or how society works or whatever. personally, i think i missed out by essentially never having a conservative point of view taught to me while i was in college. i was told to write a paper about the conservative and liberal points of view on a topic once, but i'm almost certain i never had a conservative professor who ever questioned the concept that the government can, and should, solve most societal problems. the most interesting professor i had was pretty much agnostic on all that because he thought all of it was b.s. he was by far the most interesting and thought-provoking professor there and he wasn't there too long. universities and tech companies seem to have a way of weeding out anyone who isn't a "right thinking" person.
  • it'll be a sad day when we lose rick rubin.

  • here's one version

    8/7/17 (19:30)
  • one response of mine to the trump era has been to stop listening to the news as much. i used to listen to NPR every day and i'd read more news, but now i don't. i also took off a few political podcasts from my rotation. it's just too much b.s. to keep up with on a daily basis. i still have several political podcasts, but i'm getting the news from this weekly-ish podcasts instead of every day as the new twitter controversy gets talked about and then forgotten. listening to something weekly filters out the b.s. if it's not worth mentioning in a weekly format, then it's not worth thinking about. part of the problem our society has right now is the short attention span and 24 hour news cycle. weekly podcasts and magazines like the week or the atlantic are remedies for this. twitter is the worst thing you can do at this point.



    8/6/17 (19:37)

  • started watching game of thrones finally. it's been on the list for several years. next year will be its last so the timing is a little early, but sometimes it's better to be on board for the last season rather than trying to avoid spoilers. did that with breaking bad.
  • i don't really understand how one can consider themself a communist based upon, not only human nature, but just the stuff that the founders wrote. i don't think most so-called communists actually consider themselves communists. i don't think they actually hold the ideas espoused by engels, for example. from engels' principles of communism (emphasis mine):

  • "— 7 —
    In what way do proletarians differ from slaves?
    The slave is sold once and for all; the proletarian must sell himself daily and hourly.
    The individual slave, property of one master, is assured an existence, however miserable it may be, because of the master’s interest. The individual proletarian, property as it were of the entire bourgeois class which buys his labor only when someone has need of it, has no secure existence. This existence is assured only to the class as a whole.
    The slave is outside competition; the proletarian is in it and experiences all its vagaries.
    The slave counts as a thing, not as a member of society. Thus, the slave can have a better existence than the proletarian, while the proletarian belongs to a higher stage of social development and, himself, stands on a higher social level than the slave.
    The slave frees himself when, of all the relations of private property, he abolishes only the relation of slavery and thereby becomes a proletarian; the proletarian can free himself only by abolishing private property in general.
    — 14 —
    What will this new social order have to be like?
    Above all, it will have to take the control of industry and of all branches of production out of the hands of mutually competing individuals, and instead institute a system in which all these branches of production are operated by society as a whole – that is, for the common account, according to a common plan, and with the participation of all members of society.
    It will, in other words, abolish competition and replace it with association.
    Moreover, since the management of industry by individuals necessarily implies private property, and since competition is in reality merely the manner and form in which the control of industry by private property owners expresses itself, it follows that private property cannot be separated from competition and the individual management of industry. Private property must, therefore, be abolished and in its place must come the common utilization of all instruments of production and the distribution of all products according to common agreement – in a word, what is called the communal ownership of goods.
    In fact, the abolition of private property is, doubtless, the shortest and most significant way to characterize the revolution in the whole social order which has been made necessary by the development of industry – and for this reason it is rightly advanced by communists as their main demand."
  • should a person be forced to live by the morality and beliefs they espouse and claim to represent? shouldn't a so-called free market conservative who wishes the government would get out of their way be forced to thrive in a system without government help, without government carve outs and tax cuts and crony capitalism aiding him along the way? shouldn't a communist open his door to every tom dick and harry because, after all, it's not really his door or his food or anything else? seems to make sense to me, but i'm not sure a lot of people agree.
  • instead it seems that a lot of people, especially those in power, have the attitude that there should be two sets of rules - those for everyone else and those for me. so, you get people in congress who were, until a few years ago, exempt from insider trading laws. or you get al gore who espouses the ills of climate change, but constantly flies all over the world, owns three huge homes, and has a carbon footprint larger than anyone you probably know. but guys like that get a free pass.
  • it's really easy to see how the republican party and the right in general are having a bit of an identity crisis lately. they're fractured, they have noxious elements and they seem in disarray. what gets less coverage in the mainstream media is that the left is also fractured, has its own noxious elements, and seems equally unable to police itself. the b.s. at evergreen state college is the tip of the iceberg. here's a ny times opinion piece on some of this as well. just like the right doesn't seem to be able to keep in check the alt-right, racist, blindly nationalist stuff, the left seems unable to keep in check the social justice warriors run amok, the anti-fa crowd, or the PC police that use "racism" and "homophobia" as blugeons to silence anyone with whom they disagree. in so far as you can hold a group accountable for the extremists within the group (though this is limited, i would argue), it should be done equally with the right and the left because both have really noxious and dangerous elements.




  • zoe asked today if naughty girls could have sisters. we said yes and then i asked why she asked. she said that naughty girls don't get good things and sisters are a good thing. i love the way her brain works.



    i've been recording this old house episodes from my tv to dv-r for the better part of 10 years now and have long had the goal of having all the old episodes. i finally got very close to that today by figuring out a way to record them off their webpage (available to "insiders" only). took me about a week and it takes up over 500GB of data, but i got everything that's available in digital format in the best resolution they offer. this is a big day. there 6 seasons missing which is a bummer, but i got the first 16 seasons and everything from season 25 to 38. for some reason they don't have several of them available in that middle period. maybe one day. in the meantime, i have plenty of stuff to watch. excited.

    7/31/17 (20:48)

  • well trump is really screwing the pooch lately. i think the greatest hope a trump voter could have had was that he run the government like a business (efficiently and without regard to politics). unfortunately for us all, he has (so far) failed at that. multiple missteps, growing pains that dwarf the obama growing pains, and just general disorder. he doesn't appear to have many actual skills as a leader, manager, delegator, decision maker, strategist...
  • immigration seems to be the new gay marriage for the republicans. it's the issue they use to get out the vote and appeal to the conservative sense of outrage and changing norms.
  • was watching house hunters renovation the other day. meryl and i tried to guess what the two people did for a living. my guess for the woman was "fashion blogger who is into macramé." i was spot on. she's a fashion blogger for a living and she had macramé in the background in a later scene. honestly i don't even know what macramé is, i just knew she was the type of person who would be into it. it was one of the most prescient moments in my life.
  • there's some law in NC or some state like that where they want to make it the law for a woman to contact the father before she gets an abortion. at first thought it seemed not terribly unreasonable. after all, shouldn't the man have some say over what happens to his potential child? but the more you think about it the more you have to conclude that, even though it's not entirely fair, you can't make this law. for me, it falls into the category of unfair, but that's life. the fact of the matter is that sometimes biology just isn't fair and this is one of those examples. you can't (shouldn't) force a woman to have a baby and there are all sorts of situations where a woman should be able to have an abortion without telling anyone about it. so, if you're a man, it may not be entirely fair, but that's life. maybe you should figure out your game plan and have those decisions made before you put your dick in her. at that point it qualifies as a donation until the baby comes out and then i think men should have equal legal rights to the child.
  • one of the major problems with government is that it only knows force. it imprisons, it fines, it taxes, it punishes. what it should be doing, in my view, is using its unique ability and power in a more nuanced view, e.g. the nudge unit in the UK. people are generally going to act the way they want (even if that means going against social norms or against their best interests). so what happens is the government will impose a fine or make a new law to deter. more often than not, this just pushes the behavior underground or makes people slightly change the way they go about doing the same behavior. an example is the spanish lottery. the lottery is generally seen as a regressive tax because it appeals to the poor and they spend a disproportionate amount of their income on the hopes they will win it. the spanish govt. saw this and decided to fix it. yay! right? so what they did is they raised the price of a lottery ticket to a point where only rich people could afford it. but, as i said, people are going to do what they want so poor people decided to pool their money together and buy shares of lottery tickets instead of buying individual tickets. problem not solved. another one is the raw milk problem. apparently buying raw milk is illegal in some areas because it's considered unclean by the government. so, people get around this by buying shares of cows and since they own part of the cow, the byproduct of the cow is legal for you to consume. regulation averted (for people with the money to get around the issue). of course this is just the tip of the iceberg. anywhere you have regulation or taxes, there are ways that people come up with the get around this stuff.
  • it seems to me that it would be a better use of time for the government to spend its (our) money not on regulation and enforcement (especially of these minor issues), but on education or changes in culture. but, you have some people who think that a) government is the answer to all society's problems and b) that government ought to solves those problems with draconian measures like regulation, taxes, new laws...all with the ultimate threat of imprisonment behind it. the more i think about this stuff, the more i think that this isn't only wrong headed, but morally wrong.
  • "When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don't blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview previewing the new plan. “So what did we do wrong? People didn't know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that." i recently remarked that clinton refused to actually take responsibility for her loss in november. looks like schumer figured it out. i've heard her blame comey, russia, sexism, etc.
  • finishing up season one of this old house right now. i have to take it back a bit about them being unsafe with regards to asbestos and lead. in the later episodes vila talks a bit about lead safety and asbestos as a danger. that said, the techniques they use are not at all in line with today's standards. they were ahead of their time in putting down plastic when sanding lead paint, but they didn't have access to the HEPA vacs of today or the tools that focus on dust extraction. they also show how to use a blowtorch to strip paint, which just releases lead fumes. it's great to see all the hand work they do. hand nailing on the floors in spots, hand nailing casing, hand nailing lattice work even. whenever i take apart an old house i think about the fact that it took a different type of person to make a house in the old days. a guy like me wouldn't last in the days of rip sawing 2x lumber, hand driving square cut and 20d nails, walking top plates during rough in...much respect to the guys who got it done in the days before power tools and OSHA and everything else.



    7/28/17 (20:11)

  • this old house is one of my favorite shows ever. they finally made the episodes available on their site to TOH insider members so I joined up and got a free silva brothers shirt and access to the old episodes. pretty cool watching the old shows. bob vila was actually my least favorite host of the 3. i've started watching episodes from the first season and it's kinda funny to see some of the things they did and to see how far they, and we, have come since then. this first season was in 1979 so worries about lead paint and asbestos were pretty new at the time. they knock down a cast iron boiler with asbestos insulation on it with no regard for the asbestos falling apart upon impact. nowadays that would be a different story. bob vila tries to knock down a wall at one point with one hand and can't do it and says, "oh i thought that was going to be easier." so he uses two hands and then walks through the hole and starts talking about the new room layout while there's a huge plume of dust around him. the whole season is pretty raw like that. it's funny. so are his wardrobe choices.
  • that said, bob is helping invent a genre so you gotta give him some slack. he has a pretty good general knowledge, even though he's kinda goofy sometimes and overly exuberant.
  • got an email from Amy Finkelstein (MIT Economist I cited below). I emailed her regarding her research on increasing costs in healthcare and asked for a summary on why she thinks healthcare costs are so much higher now than 40 years ago. here's her response:

  • "Thanks for your interest in my work!
    The consensus among economists is that technological change in medicine is what's driving most of the growth in health care spending. I'm pretty convinced by this argument but two caveats:
    1. it's an argument "by residual" - i.e. if we look at all the other possible explanations (aging of the populatoin, raising income etc) we can't explain much.  still that's not the most satsifactory approach...
    2. it kind of kicks the can down the road - i.e. begs the question of "what in turn is driving technoogical change in medicine"
    that's where my papers sort of comes in - i argue that insurance - by increasing aggregate demand for health care - increases the profitability of adopting and hence developing new medical technologies.
    Hope that's useful?"
  • civil asset forfeiture is in the news again. i remember hearing about this on the local level years ago. i just don't understand how any right thinking person is okay with this kind of crap. not sure how it's considered even remotely constitutional. and though the war on drugs isn't responsible for as much incarceration as people think (i addressed this last month, i think), it is responsible for increased govt. power which has lead to things like civil asset forfeiture. sessions recently went back to pre-obama rules on the issue and people who care about civil liberties haven't responded well.
  • this reminds me of a similar situation with casinos. basically, if you start winning too much money they can just kick you out and not pay you. they say you're counting cards and it's against the rules (which i've never seen posted anywhere) so get lost. if you have a lawyer then maybe you can make a case out of it, but good luck. same goes for civil forfeiture. the cops take $500 cash off you, don't charge you for any crime, say the money was suspected drug money and tell you to get lost. no judge or jury. good luck taking them to court. you just got robbed by the government. that's what you get for being black.



    7/22/17 (19:55)

  • planet money is always good, but they had a quick piece on the federal budget that i think is mandatory for anyone who cares about how our tax money is spent (this should be all americans). it's 16 minutes. if you pretend to care about trump or the government, then you can spend 16 minutes listening to how your money is spent. the majority of the people i talk with don't actually have a good handle on where the money goes, so the odds that you already know it all are pretty slim. i have the big 3 (medicare/medicaid (33%), social security (27%), the military (16%)) and debt service (5-6%) memorized, but don't know as much about the last 20% so it was helpful even for someone who spends more time than the average person worrying/reading about this stuff.
  • with the budget there seem to be two ways an argument can go..."why are we spending $1 million studying the reproductive habits of pigs (or whatever)?" or "why are we spending $10 million on trump's security at mar-a-lago?" and the other way it can go is "all the shit that we usually complain about is only a fraction of 20% of our budget so why are we fighting about it? that's the camp that i fall into more often than the first camp. i've definitely been upset about the handouts and the bullshit programs and government waste, but the 4 items i listed above are 80% of our budget...shouldn't that be where we have the most discussion? social security, medicare/medicaid, the military. and mostly because of those programs we're 19 Trillion in debt so we have to pay 5-6% of our government revenue on servicing that debt. $229 billion disappears because of debt. and we're arguing about $600 million going to planned parenthood or $445 million on NPR. if the previous generations didn't pile up any debt then we could fund planned parenthood for the next 380 years with the money we lose on debt payments in 1 year. 514 years worth of govt. assistance to NPR if our ancestors hadn't run up the debt. i'm not a math person so i can't crunch these numbers, but the interest rates are currently extremely low. what happens if the interest rates double in the next 10 years? if we're paying 12%+ of our budget on debt interest and the baby boomers retire and the millennials still can't get jobs then who's paying taxes? at that point we're fucked economically. if we lose reserve currency status then we're ultra fucked.
  • i wrote years ago that i wasn't as worried about the debt time bomb as some because we have the biggest military in the world. it also helps that we are the world's reserve currency, but those aren't written in stone and they only protect us from economic realities so much. here's the review for I.O.U.S.A. i'm talking about. wrote it in 2009 and i stand by it.
  • zoe has been trying our patience lately. that's all i'll say about that.
  • interesting paper on medicare's impact on the overall cost of healthcare. basically Amy Finkelstein, MIT Department of Economics says that medicare has contributed to 40% of the overall per capita cost increase in healthcare. "A back of the envelope calculation based on my estimates of the impact of Medicare suggest that the overall spread of health insurance between 1950 and 1990 may be able to explain at least 40 percent of the five-fold increase in real per capita health spending over this time period, and potentially much more. Public policy played an important role in the spread of health insurance over this period, through public health insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid as well as the tax subsidy to employer provided health insurance. The results therefore indirectly suggest that U.S. policy figured prominently in the substantial growth in the health care sector over the last half century."
  • not a linkin park fan, but another tortured musician killing himself just makes you think about all the ones before him. fucked up to think about how much talent was lost just in my lifetime.
  • not sure why this has so few views. should be a classic.
  • being on the computer for more than 30 minutes usually makes my wrist hurt, but working all day doesn't do a thing. working does bother my shoulder which has been giving me trouble for over a year now. seen the doctor twice and finally got referred to a physical therapist so we'll see what comes of that. one doctor said he thought it could be a minor rotator cuff tear. seems like that would have given me more problems over the last year, though, so i doubt it. then again, something more minor probably wouldn't last a year so who knows.
  • one of the things they found out after obamacare is...well, let me rewind. one thing they thought is that people were going to the ER as a last resort because they didn't have real healthcare. the thought was that normal people had problems that they let get too big and then would to to the ER for normal care instead of taking care of it preemptively due to the fact that they didn't have health insurance to cover regular doctors' visits. so, they expected that ER visits would decrease once people had healthcare and regular visits would be part of that. turns out they were wrong. ER visits increased among these people. when you think about it this isn't much of a surprise. it's a pretty well established rule that when you get something for free or have already paid for it, you're more likely to use it.
  • so, we pay about $1000/month for health CARE. as a result i think very little about going to the doctor. it only costs me another $20 for most visits (my shoulder visit cost another $70) so i may as well go to the doctor for $20 since i've already paid so much just to have access. it's a membership fee, in essence. the larger effect is that people don't think much about visiting the doctor or going to the ER because the majority of the cost is already sunk. demand increases and so do prices.
  • now think about another kind of plan where i pay $100/month for health INSURANCE. if i get hit by a car or come down with some disease then i'm covered and won't go bankrupt. but if my shoulder hurts then i need to decide whether or not it's worth, say, $225 to visit the doctor. the larger effect of this is that i'm more likely to simply email my doctor or help or do a low cost phone appointment or do some research online. as a result the doctor has more time to deal with real problems. we don't need as many doctors. demand goes down and so do prices.
  • in one of the more recent episodes of the weeds podcast they talk about the opioid epidemic. they talk a bit about the idea that maybe some of the answer is learning to live with some level of pain. i think we have an unrealistic expectation created, in part, by the success of western medicine when it comes to dealing with pain management. it's something western medicine is very good at treating and so we expect that we should never have any pain. here's some news: life is pain, time to toughen up a bit.
  • 30% of healthcare spending is on unnecessary services. defensive medicine and tort reform is a part of that.
  • another part of that is the fee for service model which basically just incentivizes performing more procedures to get more money.
  • the fact that payment is so spread out is a big problem as well. your employer might pay part of the cost. your insurance company will pay part. and you will pay part, but it's probably taken out of your paycheck so you don't think of it as much. the whole concept of your employer paying for health insurance has never made sense to me. why should it be that way? it shouldn't. in part because it disincentivizes people from changing jobs or going to work for themselves (this was a major barrier when i was thinking of going out on my own). why do employers pay for your healthcare?
  • when there's a big question like that the answer is almost always one of 3 things: money. government. corporations. in this case it's government. the government made a law restricting wages during WW2. so, in order for companies to compete they started adding healthcare benefits to the compensation package.
  • the deeper you get into these topics the more you see distortions in the market created by either the government or special interests/corporations. these distortions almost always have negative long-term consequences for the majority of us. the government put wage controls in place and companies needed to attract better employees so they got creative. this law and the creative solution companies necessarily came up with has had enormous effects on our healthcare system. it's limited the individual mobility of everyday people who may lose a job and then lose their healthcare as a result. this kind of shit leads to stopgap bullshit measures like COBRA (basically a failure). this law also spread out the cost of healthcare from the individual and insurance company to a third party (the employer). all of a sudden the employer is now in the health insurance game. so they hire more HR managers and go away from their core competency just because of this one dumb law. how much lost productivity is created and how much extra cost is passed onto the consumer because companies everywhere are hiring HR managers and paying for part (or all) of their employees' health insurance?  it's impossible to grasp just how much of an impact the government has in the way it distorts the economy. one stopgap measurement they could enact would be to tax these health benefits as income, but they don't do that.
  • these kinds of things are so annoying because we can't just reform our way out of them. often it's a very painful process. i think of it like the QWERTY keyboard that we all use. because typewriters would bind when one would type too quickly, they designed the layout of the keyboard to be purposely inefficient so as to avoid the binding of the type hammers. of course we have computers now so there's no such thing as typing too fast....but we (almost) all still use the QWERTY keyboard. there are much faster keyboards out there and programs you can use to change your keyboard to the more efficiently laid out types, but we're stuck with what we have because of inertia. we're stuck with QWERTY and we're still stuck with employers providing healthcare for so many people. one dumb law is like a shitty course of bricks at the bottom of a large building's foundation...even if the law is long gone.
  • can a theoretical government make the right policies and get this stuff right? sure. can our government do it? i don't believe it can. we haven't gotten much right in the last 50 years when it comes to policy making and big government projects. if you're someone who believes in the power of the american government to get these sorts of things right going forward, please tell me what, from the recent past, makes you think that. i see some good movement when it comes to eliminating stupid restrictions that the government had on things like gay marriage or other equality movements, but that's the government undoing something it's done wrong, not doing some good from square one.
  • drug interactions, hospital acquired infections and medical mistakes combined make up the third leading cause of death in the country. in other words, stay away from hospitals as much as you can.
  • why did corporate and personal income taxes start to separate drastically in 1945? what did FDR/Truman do to start this trend? what did Eisenhower do to seemingly enshrine it?

  • 7/18/17 (22:00)
  • as good a time as any to revisit the best of the 00s. i feel pretty good about my picks still so that's a good sign. i said at the time that i didn't love the arcade fire album, but that has changed. it's now one of my favorites of the decade and would be on the top 10 list if i were to do it today. think i was ahead of the curve on the black angels tracks. vern was definitely right to add TV as a category. he was ahead of the curve on the TV craze and i was a late adopter. he also picked some good songs. he had the ruby suns album and if i had it to do over again i'd have ruby suns' tane mahuna on my best songs list. i have all my songs on itunes rated out of 5 stars, but i also made a playlist of 6 star songs for the songs that truly rise above, and tane mahuna is on it. i wish more people had done the songs portion of the poll because it's a lot easier to check out than an entire album.
  • i don't think i'll be able to do much more than a top 10 songs lists this decade. i pretty much don't listen to albums anymore. podcasts take up all my at work listening time and i usually hop around a lot from song to song while i'm on the computer (which happens only about once a week now anyway).



    7/14/17 (21:18)

  • just one example of the erosion of personal responsibility.



    7/13/17 (20:18)

  • seems like society is creating people who are more and more specialized and less and less capable of taking care of themselves. seems like the natural progression from that is some form of socialism or communism. if i can't take care of myself then i can either blame myself and live with the consequences (or seek improvement) or vote for the rest of society to take care of me by voting in ever increasing social programs. "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury." not sure who said it, but that's where we are right now. everyone wants lower taxes. everyone wants their shit paid for by the government. everyone thinks they have a good argument for why their shit should be paid for and your shit shouldn't. everyone wants free stuff and no one wants responsibility.
  • lately i've been thinking about what government handouts and welfare programs are morally justified. i think medicare is legit. SNAP is legit. free education makes sense. some level of free healthcare is pretty much fine with me. but the more i think about it, the less okay i am with social security. it's about 25% of our total federal budget (military is about 16%) and it goes primarily to the oldest people. in other words, to the people who have had the longest time to build up a nest egg, get their lives together, and build towards a retirement, if that's what they choose to do. if it were, say, 10% of our federal spending i could probably justify it in the following way: the social contract we agree to is that if you work the vast majority of your life then you deserve to have society give back to you for your contribution. so, even if you're a janitor your whole life and you can't afford to build up a decent nest egg, you should get some retirement thanks to the taxpayers because you did your part for 40-ish years. that's really the best moral argument i can see for allowing social security to exist as it currently does.
  • my counter point to that would be that even a janitor needs to plan for his/her future by putting some money aside so they can retire if that's what they choose to do. should retirement be a right? should it be your right to work 40 years out of an average life span of 80 years? the average american who lives to 65 will live another 20 years, so that means 20 years of social security. does it make sense that 25% of your taxes should pay for the old person who may or may not have had the ability to save for themselves?
  • obviously all the old people should get what they bargained for and shouldn't have the rug pulled out from under them, but i think that people under 50 need to figure out a different retirement plan. even though i sound like a bitter old man, that means me too.
  • according to the CBO: "In 2013, households in the top, middle, and bottom income quintiles received 53, 14, and 5 percent, respectively, of the nation's before-tax income and paid 69, 9, and 1 percent, respectively, of federal taxes." this is a good example of the kind of thing i never learned in school because it was always about how the top 1% are screwing the rest of us. it was only after i looked for an alternate opinion that i came across these sorts of facts. to restate: the top 20% earn 53% of all the income, but pay 69% of all the federal taxes. ask the average person about this and they wouldn't have a clue. their perception is this: the top 20% (or whatever number you want to pick) makes way more than everyone else and doesn't pay their fair share of taxes. polls always show this to be true. americans think that the rich generally don't pay their fair share of taxes. i guess you have to define "fair share" first. but whatever your definition of "fair" might be, the truth is that they pay the great majority of the federal taxes. when you add in property taxes (which they are more likely to pay as property owners) and sales taxes (which they most likely pay more of as they buy more stuff) then the trend only increases: they pay more taxes than the rest of us combined. so, maybe we should rethink this whole class warfare stuff a little?
  • so there's a defense of the rich. the problem comes when the ultra-wealthy .01% who earn their money in certain ways (hedge fund managers, for example) are able to avoid taxes. tax avoidance at this level is a real problem and i have no problem with anyone who gets upset about that. i also don't have any problems with getting upset with tax avoiders like GE and Apple who hire teams of tax lawyers to employ the dutch sandwich or the double irish to avoid anything close to their fair share. there needs to be a minimum tax for high level earners and there needs to be a lot of reform in the tax loopholes that exist because of crony capitalism.
  • speaking of which, charles koch was on freakonomics the other day and they did a two part interview with him. if you think you know him, you owe it to yourself to listen to the interview. don't listen to it if you wan to keep your opinions, though. the 3 things he cited as the biggest issues in the country: crony capitalism, corporate welfare and special interests. i can't really disagree with him. i wish they had more time to talk about those three in detail, but here are some thoughts i have on those things, most of which wasn't covered by them:
  • special interests i define as all the groups that have their hands out looking for a special tax break or earmark or projectionist policy (chicken tax, for example). all those special interests have led to a death by a thousand cuts, in my opinion. if you read enough and pay attention then it seems that basically everyone is getting special treatment here and there. look into the sugar lobby or the farm bill or everything that goes into tariff policy...it's just absurd how much goes on behind the scenes and how many special interests have their hands out.
  • crony capitalism and corporate welfare are kinda tied to the special interests, but basically powerful corporate interests buying access and legislation that is beneficial to them. these would be considered progressive issues by most people, but here's a koch brother talking about how insidious and detrimental they are to society. i basically agree that government needs to stop being in bed with corporations and that corporations have too much sway in governments at all levels. government shouldn't be in the business of distorting the markets and fixing the game for certain industries. but there's always some sad sack story about Carrier moving their factory out of the country and there's always a politician willing to give them the moon so he can say he saved X number of jobs. when it's your job or your pet industry (solar industry, for example) you're more than happy to give them tax breaks so they keep the jobs in the country or whatever, but when it's coal or when it's Trump and Carrier then you see the error in the logic. again, everyone wants free shit for themselves and their friends, but not for others and certainly not if it's going to mean less money in their paycheck.
  • this entire entry should just be labeled TINSTAAFL. there is no such thing as a free lunch.
  • what is europe doing differently from us on terrorism? they seem to be getting hit harder than we are lately.
  • priceless skewering of a gender studies journal.
  • there was a podcast i was listening to about the dewey decimal system and the fights some progressive groups have to get different categories recognized. for example there are like 8 christian subjects and then one for "other religions" and the implication is that christianity is really important and all the others are just lumped in one category. another debate was about getting african americans their own category recently, which seemed to make sense to me. but they also complained that indian art was a separate category rather than being included in the same category as van gogh and other great artists. sometimes i think you can't win with some people.
  • Chanel is sponsoring the malcolm gladwell podcast and i guess their motto is "Choose simplicity over excess, comfort over appearance and intuition over principles." the first two make sense, but choosing intuition over principles seems problematic to say the least.
  • another freakonomics podcast brought up a study about unwed mothers giving birth. in 1960 this number was 5% in 2010 it was 40%. the woman looked into the numbers and there are a lot of people like meryl and i who are committed, but not really in a rush to get married or don't care about marriage or whatever. but there are a lot of people who aren't really committed. and even the people like us who say they're committed end up breaking up within 5 years if they don't end up getting married. turns out that marriage has an important social role and creates another barrier of exit from the relationship. kids growing up outside of marriage suffer as well, and that's the real problem. i'm only scratching the surface here, so you should check it out.
  • the older i get the more i see the wisdom of certain things in society. old fashioned ideas like marriage and real commitment and manners and integrity and all those conservative ideas that the old fogeys are pitching to us which seem so trite or outmoded...they have a purpose. conservatives want to keep these ideas and liberals want to overturn them and begin anew. we need both. we need ben and elaine running away from their parents and the nearly arranged marraige at the end of the Graduate. we need the next generation to pave their own path. we also need the old fogeys telling us about some of those things that have been passed down through the ages for damn good reason. some of that stuff may come off as too conservative or as regressive gender roles or whatever label you want to add, but so many of them are there for good reason....the wisdom of the ages and the wisdom of the masses passed along.

  • 6/30/17 (21:15)

  • "There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them." - George Orwell
  • i really hope i'm still alive when the transracial and transspecies movements are taken seriously. we're finding ever smaller groups that feel maligned by society. too much time on our hands, i think.

  • 6/24/17 (17:56)
  • what you are vs. what you do. i think in our society there's been a move towards emphasizing the former at the cost of the latter. identity politics are a big part of this. as someone who feels very strongly that the proof is in the pudding, that actions speak louder than words, and all that old fashioned nonsense, this idea that what you are is more important than your actions is troubling.
  • i was talking to ethan (he's the guy who's going to be our new hire and he's been training on the weekends once in a while) about troubleshooting some electrical today. i was talking about how to determine what each wire in the box was doing and i said that you have to let the data give you the answer. sometimes there will be two wires that look black in a box even though one should be white and the other should be black. sometimes there will be a white wire that is actually hot, even though you might usually think of the white wire as being neutral. all these wires are pieces of copper with colored insulation. the last person to touch them may have been a total fuck up. don't assume you know anything about the wires based upon how they look. test them and let the facts sort it out. so, if you test the white wire and it comes back as hot and the black wire comes back as neutral then that's the truth, even though it should be the other way around.
  • what the fuck do i care about what you're labeled or what you call yourself? all i care about is your actions. if you're labeled as a white wire and you can shock me because you're actually the ungrounded conductor then the proof is in the pudding. if you're a psychotic solipsistic maniac, but you have a D or an R next to your name does that mean i'm supposed to trust that you abide by the tenants of that party? fuck no. you can call yourself whatever you want, you can package your bullshit however you want, but all that matters is what you do. no amount of labeling or talk is going to get you anywhere with me, but i seem to be in the minority.
  • i recommended the malcolm gladwell revisionist history podcast a while back and now it's back on air, or whatever you say with podcasts. the latest episode i heard was about how awful golf courses are. i'm not a golfer and i've never considered myself a golfer. i have golfed, i own golf clubs, but i haven't played in years and i've never been real adamant about it. that said, his recent episode about it was easily the worst episode he's released so far. he attacked golf primarily from the point of view of golf courses as a waste from an opportunity cost perspective. when he stays in brentwood in LA with his friend there's a small path for runners and it's right next to a large golf course. he laments the wasted space. he laments the lost property tax income (because of prop. 13). he laments the lack of biodiversity and environmental impact. a lot of his argumentation came down to a sleight of hand where he'd talk negatively about a thing adjacent to golf courses and impugn them through their proximity or by association. so, he'd continually mention rich white guys and country clubs because both those things are viewed negatively and since they are often associated with golf courses or were associated with the golf course in his story, the golf courses got some of the bad juju as well. at one point he literally said that LA has griffith park and nothing else. "there are no other parks in LA." a guest said "when you fly over LA all you see are golf courses." of course he'd call all this hyperbole if pressed on it, but i think it's fair to say it's idiotic. here's a list of some parks in LA (over 250). that list doesn't include state parks like topanga state park which is huge (11,000 acres). it doesn't include the beach which is a great place to run and play. it doesn't include the angeles national forest which is over 1,000 sq. miles. it doesn't include los padres national forest which is almost 3,000 sq. miles. does LA have a city park as big as central park? no. does it have a lot of parks and a ton of open land in the surrounding area? hell yes. basically his argument is that golf courses are for rich white guys and not for the people so he doesn't like them and wants them turned into parks. fair enough, a lot of the golf courses in LA are probably for mostly rich people. there are also some public parks where very working class people enjoy a day out and i don't see much harm in that. they also make for a good landing spot when planes can't land.
  • university of amherst came up with a healthcare plan that relies on a 2.3% tax on business gross receipts. i think that this wouldn't have meant much to me 10 years ago and i don't think it means much to many people who don't know the first thing about business or the economy. evidently this list includes the morons at the university of amherst who proposed the tax. a tax on gross receipts is possibly the dumbest tax i've ever heard of. it means that all the money that flows through a business gets taxed. so, if it's money i'm spending on payroll or tools or business expenses it's still getting taxed. this is different from a tax profits. for a business like mine it would suck, but for a business that sells goods (instead of services) it would end them and prevent many from ever getting really started.
  • i have less and less faith in smart people every day. the business tax example happens to be something i know a small bit about, but the point is that you can't know about everything. worst case scenario is that some person or group thinks they know a lot and they institute some plans based upon their knowledge and it has missed things like this in it. best case scenario is that some person or group knows that they don't know everything and they do their best to vet their idea by distributing it amongst various peers who know about different fields and then it gets released. but even then, 9/10 times there's still going to be unforeseen circumstances and unintended consequences and things are going to be better in some ways and worse in others. best case scenario after that is that we tweak the bad things until they're minimized and then tweak those things again until the unintended consequences are as minimal as possible. but this never seems to be the way things go. all the social engineering we attempt seems to just create different problems. and there's always an academic out there who says "well they didn't do it right" or "well, they got unlucky because of these underlying conditions or because of something outside of everyone's control." the supply side economics bunch is a classic example of this; as are the socialists. "well the supply side experiment in kansas would have worked if brownback hadn't changed the way businesses count income." "well, that wasn't real socialism because of yada yada yada."
  • that ties into another pet peeve - blaming everything, but yourself. hillary did this a little while back. in a speech she said she took complete blame for losing, but then listed all the ways in which she was screwed by others - comey stole the election from me, the russians stole the election from me, misogyny stole the election...i don't think some people understand what it means to take the blame for something. here's how it goes for those with integrity: "i fucked up, my bad." period. then you shut the fuck up after that. here's an alternate version: "i fucked up. here's what i did wrong: i didn't visit the states that i should have. i took some votes for granted. i didn't take the advice of some of my advisors. i'm sorry." that's how it works. the other thing is called bullshit. the other thing is akin to "i'm sorry i hit you baby, but you really need to stop bitching at me so much because it makes me upset and you know i can't control my temper." wait, what? did you just say sorry and then blame it on me? how does that work?
  • politicians don't know how to take responsibility. you'll find it as no surprise that the most annoying version of this is the blame nader b.s. after gore lost in 2000. anything they could find to take the onus off of gore was trotted out before an ounce of personal responsibility was taken after that election. it was about everything other than their own failures. but perhaps the best example of this is trump. everything great that happens near/to him is because of him. everything bad that happens near/to him is because of someone else.
  • there's a guy named jocko willinck who has this philosophy called extreme ownership . maybe it goes too far, but i think it illustrates a point and it's kind of the way i think about my life lately. basically the idea is that you take responsibility for everything that happens in your life. i haven't really read or listened to him talk about it much, but the phrase "extreme ownership" is a useful one. i have a lot of cavities and here are two ways i could go about having that conversation with a friend:
  • 1. man, i have like 10 cavities, it sucks. my parents kinda talked about flossing when i was growing up and i knew i was supposed to do it, but no one ever made me do it or anything. when i got out of college i didn't have much money so of course i didn't go to the dentist so i wasn't getting those cleanings every 6 months. also, i've read that some people are more prone to getting cavities because of the ph level or something and that the gaps in some people's teeth are just right for holding food so it makes it more likely that you're going to get decay so...
  • 2. man, i have like 10 cavities, it sucks. i eat a lot of sweets and went several years only flossing like once every week or two so i guess i'm just reaping what i sowed. trying to get better about flossing now and i use mouthwash a lot more than i used to so...
  • both those conversations could totally happen and both say a lot about how a person approaches their life. in both instances everything i said is 100% factual for my life. in the first version i'm telling the truth, but everything is about me being a victim. my parents didn't make me floss (but i knew what i was supposed to do). i was poor and didn't have dental coverage (i spent my money on other things, though). it's true that i've heard some genetic elements can lead to one person being more prone to cavities than another, but that's just me shirking responsibility. in the second version i don't play up any of the things that bail me out of my own responsibility and i own up to my own weaknesses.
  • i think the second version is a much better way to live your life. i also think being friends with the first person is a major pain. the first person is a complainer who doesn't take ownership in life. my dad used to talk about being a leaf in the wind. the first person is just a leaf in the wind...no control over their life, just floating along. he also used to say "luck is the residue of design." turns out john milton said it first, but maybe that makes it all the better.
  • luke is probably the luckiest guy i know and here's a good example: he got it in his head that he was going to drive to the super bowl when it was at the niners stadium and check it out. he didn't have a ticket or any real plan, but he went there and hung around and scoped things out. he saw stephen curry and his entourage walking along and just walked in behind them as they went through the v.i.p. entrance. so, he got into the super bowl by luck. but the luck was the result of him deciding to get off his couch and walk around and see what opportunity came along. then he was smart enough and brave enough to go for it. only then was he lucky enough that it worked. so, yeah, luck is part of it...always is. but he was motivated, smart and brave....then lucky.
  • i listen to a podcast i've referenced before called 'how i built this' about how different entrepreneurs built their empire. everyone from mark cuban to the guy who built five guys to the woman behind kate spade or the woman behind spanx. there have been probably 40 episodes by now and all but one have cited luck as a major contributing factor in making it big. for mark cuban he was lucky that the thing he got really into (computers) was highly profitable when his company decided to sell to yahoo. if he had some along 10 years earlier it's possible that he'd be rich, but not billionaire rich.
  • the flip side of extreme ownership in the negative example above is when something good happens. it's hard enough to take responsibility when something bad is in your life, so maybe the flip side is that it's really easy to take total ownership when something good is in your life. two more conversations:
  • man, we just sold our old house for $799k and we bought it for $290k. after all is said and done we're going to make like $300k on it. we worked really hard on that place...bought it low and sold it high. put a lot of sweat equity into it while learning on the job. we killed that deal and now we're basking in the delight of an amazing down payment for our next house.
  • man, we just sold our old house for $799k and we bought it for $290k. after all is said and done we're going to make like $300k on it. we got super lucky...we had the right agent who told us not to raise our asking price even though we hadn't heard back from the bank after a couple months. we were extremely lucky that meryl's dad was able to finance the deal and the renovation for us. we had great neighbors who never reported us to the city for doing unpermited work or complaining about working late at night. we got really lucky that we were ready to look for a house when the worst housing crisis in our lifetimes was going on so prices were depressed. we got just as lucky that the real estate market rebounded just as we were looking for an upgrade. we got lucky that i found a job that let me work 3-4 days a week so i could spend more time on the house. so many things needed to come together to make that work out as well as it did.
  • the first version is extreme ownership run amok and the second version is basic humility.
  • gandhi's seven sins:
  • Wealth without work.
  • Pleasure without conscience.
  • Knowledge without character.
  • Commerce without morality.
  • Science without humanity.
  • Religion without sacrifice.
  • Politics without principle.
  • every once in a while the supreme court not only gets it right, but does so in a unanimous manner. the case in this instance is of a band called the slants. they're asian americans and they were denied the right to trademark their name because it was considered offensive. to grant a trademark for such an offensive name is anathema to a liberal society, so the argument goes. i first heard about this on a podcast a year or so ago (can't recall which one) and then it was brought up again in a planet money podcast recently. i don't think the argument flies that the trademark is equivalent to a government approval. i think another argument (though this may be a separate case) was the idea that government can nix a personalized license plate that says "f slants," so they should be able to nix this as well. personally i don't have a problem with either instance being allowed by the government. that said, i think the trademark case is even more clear cut. it's not up to the government to determine what's objectionable to trademark. why should they? it's an economic decision to trademark whatever it is that you're trying to market. the government shouldn't be the moral police. kennedy, ginsburg, sotomayor and kagan spoke to this element in their decision (the decision was 8-0, but those justices offered additional reasoning behind their decision)..."it is a fundamental principle of the first amendment that the government may not punish or suppress speech based on disapproval of the ideas or perspectives the speech conveys." besides that it seems that this business just gets into splitting hairs really quickly. can't have a band called the slants, but can ice cube and dr. dre trademark NWA? does the trademark office know what the n stands for? does it matter if they do or if the public does? and, as ginsburg asked, does it matter if the public knows that the slants are using the term to take back ownership of the slur?
  • of course this couldn't have happened from a political standpoint, but i wonder what would have happened if the founders had followed their fundamental disdain for powerful government to its logical conclusion. that is, much of the articles of confederation and the constitution and bill of rights that followed were about avoiding a strong centralized government. what if they had applied that properly and allowed women and minorities to be real people from the very beginning? would we have evolved as a country that kept the power of the federal government in check if those fundamental rights were granted early on? because, at least part of the reason that the government is viewed as the answer to problems is because (oddly and somewhat contradictorily) it took the federal government to stop the federal government from discriminating against women and blacks. so, in an odd and very real way, people look at the government as solving the problem that the government was causing in the first place; at least that's my perception of the average person's perception. for some reason the average person doesn't seem to think of the civil rights movement as restricting government power. or maybe i'm missing something. but if they do view it that way, why would they want to ever give the government more power? i think i'm missing something. maybe it falls under "that was then this is now" or "government also does good things" or... with trump in power i hope a lot of liberals, who generally want a robust central government, rethink some of these things like the expansion of presidential power under basically every president since FDR. you shouldn't view it as "what power can we grant the next Democrat so that they don't have to work with a Republican congress. you should view it as "when this power is given to my worst enemy, what are they going to do with it?" when you ask that question instead of a variation of the first one, then you're getting a lot closer to a better system.
  • so, when obama had both the house and senate and chose to ram through obamacare instead of trying to limit his own power it set the precedent for the next guy. when LBJ rammed through the gulf of tonkin resolution under false pretenses, he set the precedent for the next guy. when was the last time the congress actually declared war? the system is broken because each party and each person who has been in power since at least FDR has asked the question "how can i get more power to get my agenda enacted?" not "how can i make sure checks and balances are restored?" or "what happens if my worst enemy is in charge some day?"
  • invisibilia is a fairly good podcast. they had an episode about emotions and how they're formed. basicaly the new science apparently says that emotions are formed around concepts that you learn growing up. without these basic concepts that you learn early on, you wouldn't have these emotions later in life. they make the analogy to people who are born blind and then get corneal transplants. their brain doesn't have visual concepts so all they see is light and dark. they say that there are four basic emotions: pleasant, unpleasant, arousal, calm. everything else is nurture, not nature. all the other emotions we have are concepts formed in society and those are our ways of making sense of those four basic feelings. so they're saying that we actually have a lot more control over our emotions than we used to think. change the concepts surrounding emotions and we control the emotions. interesting episode, part one.
  • jad abumrad is the worst part of radiolab. he seriously sounds like he's 15 still. i think he's also the one behind the silly sound design stuff they do on that show. they need to dial that back like 5 notches.
  • anyone following the fun over at evergreen college? we live in interesting times.
  • about 20 years ago i was at my grandma's in fresno and was watching what i think was a sex change operation show on tv. i don't know why it was on tv and i don't really know why i was watching other than being fascinated. but what i do remember is that it was a man becoming a woman when they showed his breasts they cut it open a bit and everything was showing just fine. then they added an implant and as soon as they did that they blurred out the nipple. because now this is a female breast and so the nipple is off limits on tv. 4 seconds ago it was a man's breast, which is fine. now it's a woman's breast, which we can't see. there's just so much wrong with that i can't even begin to unpack it.


    6/21/17 (16:09)

  • merritt seems to like neil gaiman. coraline is her favorite movie and she seemed to like stardust the other day as well.
  • the typical liberal view on criminal justice reform is that a lot of it is because of stupid drug crimes. end the war on drugs and you'll get rid of a lot of prisoners. that and the privatization of prisons. i've written before that the privatization thing is actually a red herring. 90% of prisoners are held in government run prisons, not private ones. but i learned the other day that 16% of state (where the vast majoirty of prisoners are kept) prisoners are there because of drug crimes. 5% of that 16% are non-violent and low level drug crimes. in other words, less than 1% of the state prisoners are there because of non-violent minor drug crimes. this is in direct contradiction to the dominant narrative that it's a bunch of petty drug offenses that are filling up the prisons. so much of being on the right or left comes down to what you decide to play up or concentrate on. so, when it comes to criminal justice, the average liberal who listens exclusively to NPR and reads the NY times will say that the war on drugs is awful and that privatized prisons need to go away. they'll say this is what's causing a lot of the over-crowding...along with systemic racism and bad education and maybe one other thing. a typical conservative will choose to focus on personal choices, lack of two parent households, and maybe the decline of the role of the church or a couple other things. of all those things mentioned, a few of them are pretty squishy and tough to nail down numbers-wise and a couple of them aren't as tough to look at. privatized prisons do have an incentive to get more prisoners so you'll see things like prison officer's unions lobbying for tougher laws. and you can look at third strike policies and drug offenses leading some people to prison. but as noted above, these are fairly small issues in the context of a society that really puts far too many people behind bars. in other words, i'd argue that if you actually care about cj reform you'd be better moving past the drug crime and privatization narratives.



    6/12/17 (19:44)

  • started watching people vs. oj simpson. production and acting issues aside it brings up the whole time and case nicely in a long format. it was a pretty great time to grow up in la because in a 10 year span you had NWA, the riots, OJ, RATM, and just a general sense of change, unrest, etc. interesting times. the story brings up a lot of social issues like race and problems with the criminal justice system and the LAPD and gender and the media 24hr news cycle.
  • according to at least one study the total compensation going to employees has been consistent from 1970 to today. this flies in the face of the typical narrative that wages have stagnated. i guess the issue there is that one is comparing wages and the other is comparing total compensation. it seems the latter is a better measure for seeing how workers are being treated.
  • there was a podcast that looked at the different things you could tell about people/society based upon all this search engine data that was gathered. one thing they found is that racist searches ("obama nigger" for example) spiked after his inauguration. they also found that it was regional, but not a north/south divide as you'd expect. it was actually a west/east divide with the east searching for those terms at a higher rate than the west.
  • there's this segment at the end of an otherwise average (at least when i first watched it) jason statham movie that has always stuck with me. it's all about the power of the ego. been thinking about this lately because it seems that more and more people are viewing their lives and what happens in the world through a very selfish lens. even ostensibly selfless movements that should be about understanding where other people are coming from seem to be trapped in their view of the world and unable to do what they are asking others to do; namely to suspend their own ego and view/experience of the world and imagine what it's like to live life like they do. these very same people are just as guilty of viewing the world from their own point of view solely.
  • one interpretation of what's happening with trump is that the deep state is seeking to get rid of him because he's too dangerous to the status quo. i don't subscribe to this point of view which seems mostly held by largely paranoid largely white men who are deeply suspicious of the government. i can understand the sentiment, though. finally they get a person in office who represents their views. as an aside i should mention that these people largely vote republican, but aren't bush style republicans. they distrust govt., want less of it, hated bush for overspending and expanding the govt., thought he was just another puppet and part of the ruling class. anyway, these people finally get an outsider in charge and of course the media is against him, comey is against him, leaks are happening left and right, etc. and you can understand the point of view of those who don't trust the govt. in fact, i relate to that more than the point of view that says the govt. is good and should be given more power. after all, what has our govt. done when given power? gulf of tonkin, manzanar, tuskegee experiments, cia and crack connection, failed housing projects like pruitt igoe, atomic bomb being dropped twice (second one a few days later...just for the hell of it?), mk ultra, trumped up reasons for invading iraq, etc. it's no stretch to believe that a government capable of that is capable of taking out JFK by force or trump by scandal. i don't buy it, but i wouldn't rule it out.
  • the tom clancy-esque interpretation of that is that maybe there is a deep state that is bigger than the presidency and congress and that it checks the visible govt. so maybe that's a good thing and not a sinister, deeply troubling thing.
  • the comey firing is clearly problematic. trump appears to think that the president is more like a king who can do whatever he wants and that the other branches and checks/balances are just pesky obstacles. part of the reason i think a president moderates once he takes power is because he quickly realizes that reality won't allow him to do what he campaigned for. this is all by design and i think it's one of the best things about our system. of course this deliberate form of governing is a double edged sword that can be infuriating when you'd like to get healthcare reformed asap. but it's the thing that separates us from some other forms of govt. that are more prone to fascist takeovers. not saying we're immune to it, but when people said that trump was hitler or mussolini i have a couple reactions, even now: show me where he's been as extreme as calling for mass genocide or anything on the scale of hitler. he just hasn't, so maybe he's more like mussolini. but even then trump can only hope to be like mussolini because he exists in a much more stable governmental system. it takes a lot more to unpack our system than it did for hitler after the reichstag fire, for example.
  • what things are considered rights these days? i feel like it used to be pretty simple: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. but i think every generation adds something to the list of rights. right to be called your preferred gender, right to healthcare, right to privacy, and a bunch that the UN has added more recently: right to own property, right to free education, right to internet access... some of these i agree with as being basic human rights. others, not so much. i think that with rights come responsibilities and that always seems to get short shrift. if you have the right to own property then perhaps you have the responsibility to maintain it as well. a lot of the more recent additions seem to be about getting stuff for free. and when you're talking about free education and free healthcare it sounds great. but the truth of life is that nothing is free, so what does that really mean? it means that someone has to pay someone else to give you the things that are now your rights. so, the government has gone from ensuring a legal and political framework to ensure freedom from persecution and freedom of movement, to a mechanism for providing you with services.
  • there was a woman on the tell me something i don't know podcast who plays the saw (just a regular wood saw) for a living. she said that in NYC you can't play a saw on the street because they consider it a weapon. i just have to wonder what the point is of these petty crime laws. another NYC law comes to mind which ended up leading to the death of eric garner. i can't help but think that there are too many laws.
  • obama got in trouble for not having a cohesive foreign policy doctrine. i think you can pretty much say the same about trump.

  • 6/5/17 (19:49)
  • zoe's birthday coming round the bend. she's such a big kid now.
  • i wish i had the energy to write about it more, but suffice it to say that our criminal justice system is seriously fucked up and badly in need of reform. i'm all for locking up the bad guys, but young kids making dumb mistakes having the book thrown at them is retarded. the gender gap is crazy. the race and socio-economic gaps are crazy. the punishment over reform or rehabilitation issue is real and bad news for all involved. the solitary confinement issue is crazy. the fact that something like 90% of defendants plead guilty almost immediately is crazy. there's just so much wrong with it. like several of our government institutions i think it pretty much just needs to be blown up and redone.
  • there seems to a lack of center right media right now. WSJ, national review...not much out there that's intellectually honest and right of center. instead you get ayn rand, conspiracy theories, hysteria, etc. stuff like wnd.com, alex jones, fox news, breitbart, etc. it's really unfortunate because i think the democrats are pretty awful and being overrun by some bad policies and bad wings of the party. it's also bad because we almost have a party vacuum in the country when it comes to being a reasonable person. in many cases it's pretty hard to justify voting for a republican because the party is so nuts. so what people do instead is they go with the lesser of two evils in the democratic party. this is an understandable compromise, but i can't help but think that if the republicans got their house in order there could be an honest debate about the role of government and an honest competition of ideas.
  • instead we have this. the democrats only need to be on the right side of some key issues and project themselves as the reasonable party and they dominate the intellectual class in our society. so, they own (ideologically speaking) the media and academia which basically mutes much decent debate coming from the right. instead, in intellectual circles, we get a pretty massive circle jerk and discussion on which of the leftist ideas is best suited to solve our problems. anything right of center is quickly derided and rejected out of hand in the mainstream. this isn't to say that there aren't decent left-leaning thought centers like the atlantic or the economist. there are definitely fair intellectuals on the left, but they outnumber the center right academics and media outlets about 9:1.
  • basically i wish the republican party were a lot better because i think it would force the democrats to get better. the republicans have no moral high ground to call the democrats to task when the democrats do something wrong. republicans can't really say shit to the democrats because everyone will (rightly) point out how fucked up the republicans are and that argument works for a lot of people. of course it shouldn't. if the democrats fuck up it shouldn't matter if hitler comes back to life to point out how they fucked up, so long as he's right about his indictment of the party/person in question.
  • dropping out of the paris accord was no surprise. not a lot of political blowback that trump or the republicans are going to get so it makes sense. plus, there's plenty about the accord that isn't all that great. it puts a lot of the onus on developed nations while more polluting countries like india and china doesn't have to reduce co2 until 2030, russia gets to pollute 40% more, developed nations pay undeveloped nations to develop their renewable infrastructure, and there's little to no accountability. so, i think most people would agree that it's not some paragon of climate change action. i think the best that can be said for it is that it creates a framework to build off of in the future and the u.s. dropping out kinda hurts that. but honestly i think this issue is an example of what i'm talking about above. if you look at what the paris accord does and doesn't do then you realize it's extremely mushy. there aren't any actual rules or accountability. there's a wealth transfer to help the developing countries get greener. but it's a pretty weak agreement. as npr put it "The Paris Accord defines shared goals: most significantly, a global goal of allowing the world to warm by less than 2 degrees Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Each country also sets voluntary targets for reducing its carbon emissions. But the agreement leaves it up to each nation how exactly to meet that goal. So abiding by the Paris Accord isn't a matter of following specific rules or regulations — just about contributing, in one way or another, to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions."
  • as i mentioned before, though, the federal government is growing less and less relevant all the time. soon after trump dropped out of the paris accord 200+ mayors, 12 states, corporations (like apple, google, target, etc.), and 170+ university presidents decided they would pledge their support to it. so, as the founders intended, the states and local governments are doing that which the federal government can't or won't. then again, pledging to do something without any infrastructure for accountability is pretty easy to do and low hanging fruit for these politicians. they say "look at me, mayor of SF or LA, I'm really interested in the environment and Trump sucks so I'm going to uphold the Paris accord pledge (but don't ask me what that means because it's an empty promise with no mechanism for determining if we've done what I've pledged)."
  • another example of the federal government being phased out is nasa and space x.
  • why is it legal for car insurance companies to charge higher rates to teenage boys? neither of those attributes is something they can change about themselves. well, i guess these days you can change your gender and maybe that would be a smart economic strategy for avoiding the increased rate, but i won't get into that. the answer is that teen boys are more likely to get in trouble with reckless driving, DUIs, etc. so, we tolerate this and i've actually never heard a single person ever remark that this is a fucked up practice or sexist or anything. but if you apply the same logic to a variety of other scenarios then you can begin to see that either it's a problematic rationale or we're unfairly applying this fine rationale to one group in this example. i remember when they made it illegal in CA to charge women more for a haircut. makes total sense to outlaw this. it should be based upon length of hair and difficulty of styling. i don't know why they have a flat rate at all, to be honest. if you come in and you want some crazy hair style with a lot of layering then it might take me 90 minutes to cut and style vs. a simple bob or something which could take half that time.
  • what happens if we find out that hispanic women are shitty cooks and burn down their homes when deep frying corn tortillas at twice the rate of white families? increase their home insurance? what if people from TN deep fry turkeys 500% more than people from GA and that leads to 25% more house fires as a result? increased home insurance rates for TN homeowners?
  • this american life had an episode about the effects of testosterone on behavior and one of the things they found is that it leads to increased risk taking. maybe the car insurance companies are on the right track, but they should base it on T levels. mandatory testosterone level testing before getting life insurance, car insurance, etc. those with high T levels pay more because science has proven a link to high T levels and risky behavior. social science has further correlated high T levels (as presented in men) with higher risk of totaling your car. if evenly applied all this reasoning leads to a lot of difficult scenarios that i don't think people are really interested in exploring in this political environment.
  • isolationism is just another way of saying non-intervention. not sure why political scientists settled on isolationism, but i think non interventionism is more accurate and less negative. isolationism isn't actually a thing and never has been. plenty of presidents and thinkers have been against the u.s. getting involved in foreign entanglements and been called isolationists. but did they want to cut off trade with the world as well? did they also want to reduce immigration to zero? most so-called "isolationists" i know today actually just want the u.s. to stop meddling in the affairs of other countries.
  • obamacare was healthcare. ahca seems to be about health insurance. the difference is this: obama had prevention, birth control and other healthcare measures in it. fundamentally it was about (theoretically) providing healthcare for as many americans as possible. the republican alternative (ahca) is about health insurance in the same way as car insurance is about driving. it's a dam against a catastrophic event putting you into bankruptcy. for healthcare you have look for yourself. the ahca isn't about making sure you can see a doctor on a regular basis. to follow the car analogy...obamacare is about providing oil changes, regular maintenance and a backstop against major repairs leading to financial ruin. the republican alternative is about making sure that if you get in an accident you won't be financially ruined. it limits the scope drastically because that's their point of view. government can help you not get ruined in case something bad happens, but it's not responsible for making sure you go to the doctor for your checkups, etc.
  • while i understand that distinction i have to say i'm more in the obama camp on this one. i think that providing some measure of preventative care is good and useful for society. simply providing a financial backstop (health insurance) isn't enough in a modern economy. so, this is an example of an argument that is basically lost in the mainstream media. the argument seems to be "republicans are taking away health insurance from 20 million americans and the CBO hates their plan; they're evil." the argument, fundamentally, is about the role of government. do you think that it should provide healthcare for as many as possible or do you think individuals should take care of their own healthcare while the government provides a framework for insurance that won't take advantage (lifetime limits, pre-existing conditions nonsense, etc.) of you? of course in both those instances there are a thousand details that could wreck the whole thing, but that's the argument at its core.

  • 5/25/17 (13:21)

  • still dre is a modern classic and an epic banger. one of the cool things about it is how lo-fi it is. all the sounds on that song sound like they're made on a cheap ass keyboard. it's a very simple song, but that isn't to say it's simplistic. there's depth to it that you don't notice right way, but those flourishes i think help keep it from getting old. of course the beat is great as well and that's the backbone of the song, but the little flourishes and the simple sounds help make it really great on another level for me. actually, most of that record is kinda like that - good beats with simple sounds and few samples. the original chronic album, conversely, is much more of a record diving type rap album.
  • who was the last president to not have calls for impeachment? trump was getting talk before he took office, obama had people calling for impeachment, g.w. bush had plenty of talk including kucinich bringing it before congress, clinton was impeached, bush 1 and reagan were both called for impeachment by henry gonzalez of TX. i think carter and ford went without calls for impeachment. nixon of course would have been impeached. this is truly a bad sign of things that the last president to not have calls for impeachment left office in 1980. that means that millennials have grown up with every president having calls for impeachment. kids who are learning to drive have grown up with their country at war their entire lives. and people wonder why i vote third party.



    5/5/17 (19:45)

  • why do they say if you can make it in nyc you can make it anywhere? i think the idea is that it's a rough and tumble city. but the truth is that it has as much of a support structure as any place you'll see in america. technology is ubiquitous, transportation is easy, there are dozens of support groups for whatever it is you need or desire, social media makes it impossible not to easily find people with common interests and insider knowledge about where to go to get whatever it is you want. i think it would be a lot harder to make it in some random town in oklahoma.

  • if anyone knows how to download video from a members only website (with a browswer extension, for example), let me know. i've tried a couple and they haven't worked. this old house has all their seasons online now and i want to snag them while i can. i will pay for this information if it works. it's powered by jw player, if that helps.

     4/18/17 (19:58)

  • transracial or mentally ill? i don't know anymore. post-modernism run amok once again, as far as i'm concerned.
  • latest project is a fireplace refacing. took down the ugly stone facade today. tomorrow tile prep begins. it looks like we may have finally found an employee. ethan worked for me last spring for a month or so but had to go work for a summer camp and then got injured at that job so he got another job and couldn't help anymore. but he hates that job and it looks like we'll get him back sometime this summer. i'm hoping it works out the way i envision it...with him working with me for a while to learn the trade and then taking on his own projects so he can pay for himself. i'm hoping that a year from now he'll be self-sufficient to the point that i can just tell him what the (small) job is and he can get the materials and handle it himself. could really use the help. really stressed out lately with the amount of work i need to do for people. backed up projects in the pipeline all over the place and i'm still turning away work basically every day. the shitty thing is that this last round of taxes pretty much wiped us out so all this work seems to just tread water. i guess that's what happens when you live in expensive city and have kids.
  • another example of the small free market taking care of things that that larger institutions used to take care of is the increase in podcasts and youtube channels that are getting funding through patreon pledges. some of these channels are doing what we used to expect from mainstream media outlets...sources that have been failing us lately, i would argue. in the case of podcasts, there are examples of shows that are looking into cold cases and getting things investigated where the police failed to do their job. tara grinstead's murder is one example of a cold case that was essentially dropped for the last 12 years and suddenly got some arrests because a popular podcast (funded by interested parties in the public) got the ball rolling again and dug into the case some more.
  • this kind of thing (individuals coming together to fund something they care about outside of the government) is something that hardcore libertarians have claimed would happen organically to fund even basic things like police and roads. i never believed it before, but there's some truth to it after all. of course the downside is that the poor can't afford to buy the same sort of justice. then again, roads and policing in poor neighborhoods is almost a joke with the government running it so...
  • antifa and black bloc have been making waves around here lately. they don't seem to be getting much mainstream press which is odd because usually the mainstream is looking for controversy and sensational things to cover. maybe it's too regional and they don't have a wide following? hopefully that's the case, but it looks a lot more like the mainstream media ignoring a story because it doesn't fit the narrative their reporters like.
  • depending where you look, it does seem to be acceptable these days to be violent so long as you're fighting a perceived oppressor. so, we're getting a lot of "punch a nazi" type crap these days. so-called revolutionaries are saying things like "by any means necessary" again, now that trump is in power. mother jones had an article about "anti-racists" who are actually just against white supremacy, as if racism were only a white phenomenon. they also covered the recent protest at the MLK park in berkeley. i saw several of the videos and there was plenty of dumb shit from both sides. the antifa folks were tossing m-80s at the trump supporters and the trump supporters were more than willing to shove and hit people. basically, it looked like a bunch of idiots looking to fight because they think their politics matter. neither group seemed to understand that they're just making the whole thing a sick joke.
  • speaking of this stuff...was at someone's house yesterday and saw this on the wall...a bit difficult to see unless you zoom in, but it's kind of clever because anything a white guy says about it just feeds the claim that the white male ego is "fragile" and should be "handled with care." so i guess i won't say much about it, lest i prove the artist right. it calls for the dismemberment of white men or white male egos or something, can't quite figure it out. anyway, that's the kind of stuff that is perfectly acceptable in our society, at least as far as i can tell from the deafening silence this kind of stuff gets in well-heeled circles.

  • 4/15/17 (19:41)
  • the syria bombing is an interesting development. we've all seen the awful pictures of syrian refugees and citizens who are getting the short end of the stick in life the last couple years. normally i'm against us sticking our noses in the business of others, but i didn't mind this one, to be honest. i don't think we should do any more of this, but to smack assad down a bit doesn't seem such a bad thing to me. it also cuts against the trump in putin's pocket narrative so that's interesting.
  • hopefully the international community steps up and decides to do something about this so at least the innocent people don't continue to get shafted. would be nice if trump let in more refugees...that would have as big an impact as taking out some of syria's air force, but i don't see that happening. obama barely did it, so if trump did it, or increased it, then we'd have to rethink our view of trump and/or obama. not likely.
  • i do see trump moderating lately in some ways. on china he has come back down to earth in a pretty major way. he said he was going to label them a currency manipulator on day one, he hasn't done that. he said he was against the import/export bank and he hasn't done anything about that. in general, it looks as though he's seen the error of his ways on china. this is something he's likely to understand better than other things since he's a businessman and probably gets how these things will affect the economy.
  • the republicans went nuclear in the senate and expanded the nuclear option that harry reid had already implemented to include supreme court justices only requiring a majority vote. frankly, this is how it probably should be. i was pretty depressed about this latest move at first, but i think there could be a good silver lining. first, i should say that an notion that this is a republican only move or that they're the worst because of this latest incarnation is pretty silly. the democrats did it before (though it didn't include cabinet picks or justices) so it's blatant hypocrisy to cry foul now. but the larger picture is that this could be good because it may allow the senate to have more actual votes. so, instead of being able to hide behind a filibuster, the parties have to actually vote on close issues and, you know, maybe actually govern. it could give the voters some real votes to think about when going to the ballot box which would mean accountability for actually taking a vote could be a real thing once again.
  • i think we're in a tech bubble. a see a lot of companies with very high valuations that don't make much/any money and are funded almost entirely by VC firms. once the VCs figure out that these companies don't have a real path toward real profitability they'll stop the gravy train and a lot of people are going to lose their jobs. which means a lot of people locally are going to lose their homes. which could be bad for me.
  • i'm not a libertarian, but i've been leaning more in that direction lately. part of the reason is that i see a real lack of ability on the part of the federal government to actually govern or effectively address issues. instead, i see local governments and, especially, companies taking on these tasks. with social media being what it is, i see a lot more accountability in companies than i have in the past. big companies seem to increasingly have a social, environmental, political stance and are willing to do things in these realms that i wouldn't have seen them doing 15 years ago. lyft giving $1million to the ACLU is just one example. it seems like these companies aren't as afraid to put their necks out as they once were. i'm constantly hearing stories about big companies like google doing things in the energy sector, for example. things that once seemed to be more reserved for government research or funding is now getting done more and more by the private sector. one argument i always had against libertarianism is that at least government is accountable to the voters. but, again, because of social media, it seems like that's not necessarily true anymore. united is probably going to take a beating after their recent fiasco, for example.
  • interesting story about punctuation in a law causing trouble. personally, i'm of the mind that says punctuation matters, but in today's post-modern world...
  • don't think i ever talked about the "muslim ban." this is a good example of successful branding for the sake of politics. first, let's agree that the ban on travel wasn't rolled out well, was ill-conceived, and is highly unlikely to actually save any american lives. that being said, can we also agree that it's not a muslim ban? it's a ban on travel from countries identified by the obama administration as being problematic which are muslim majority. the ban 2.0 doesn't include iraq and the ban 1.0 never included saudi arabia. so, it doesn't even include the most problematic country in the region, so it's stupid for that reason alone. but why do i stop short of calling it a muslim ban where others have gone out of their way to do so? because i'm against the war on common sense, rationality and honesty. just look at a list of the countries that have the highest muslim populations (1-10 in descending order): Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco. now here's the list of the six countries that were on the travel ban 2.0: Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya. so, Iran is the only country on both lists. you can't even make the claim that the travel ban is for the countries that are the most muslim by percent of population. if that were the case then you'd expect afghanistan, algeria, azerbaijan, comoros, djibouti, gambia, kosovo, etc. to be on the list. all of those are 95%+ muslim. so, the travel ban is stupid and ineffective for all sorts of reasons, but it's not a muslim ban and you're kind of an asshole if you say it is. NPR calls it a "travel ban on six majority muslim countries" which is entirely accurate and respectable. be respectable.
  • the raiders are officially moving to las vegas which is a bummer. since harbaugh came to town and unseated alex smith i had a tough time rooting for the niners. even when kaepernick was doing well for them, my heart just wasn't in it because i felt so bad for alex smith and have never had much respect for harbaugh. smith saw that team through some dark times and he got dinged one time and lost his starting job to a very subpar qb in my opinion. so, i had become something of a raiders fan. now they're leaving and it sucks.
  • a NIH panel got together and issued guidelines for avoiding peanut allergies: expose infants to peanuts. what a fucking shocker. this has to be the biggest no brainer in allergy science. we shelter kids so fucking much. we're so afraid of germs and just about everything else these days that it's amazing we don't all die from going outside. our kids were munching on discarded peanuts under the couch as soon as they were able to crawl. we pretty much let them put whatever they found in their mouths. that's how kids experience the world at that age and you've gotta think that there's a good evolutionary reason behind such a strong oral stage in infancy. the fact that it took expert asshats this long to figure it out just chaps my hide.
  • a while back i heard christine hassler on the JRE podcast and it was a great conversation. but one thing that really stuck out because it's something i think about a lot, is that she was having all sorts of drama and tough times in life and finally realized that there was a common denominator to all the bad stuff that seemed to be happening to her - it was her. if things around you keep getting fucked up maybe it's time to look in the mirror, in other words. it's not an accident that the first time i put together a sink drain it seems to leak everytime. it's not that i'm unlucky. it's not that plumbing is stupid. it's that i'm not especially great at working with sink drains. after fucking up on about a million sink drains i figured out that i'm to blame. so, i try to change my approach, i expect things to go badly so i'm either right or pleasantly surprised, and i don't give up until i get it working right. what i try not do is piss and moan about how unlucky i am or whatever. in general, this is how i approach things in life. "what can i do to change things?" "what role did i play in how things are?" contrast this with the democrat party the last two times they lost the presidency: "ralph nader stole votes (false), voter rolls were purged in florida (yup), katherine harris is in the pocket of the bushes (probably(, the russians hacked the election (false), the electoral college is crap (mostly true), comey tipped the balance of the election (possibly), etc." that latter approach seems like a surefire recipe for unhappy times.
  • "in order to get something you never had, you have to do something you've never done."
  • finally finished the large project i was working on with the kitchen/bathroom. my inclination is always to do things quickly. i like it, the customers like it. the problem with going fast is it usually means hiring help which means less money in my pocket. in this case i ended up doing all the tiling myself. tub surround, floor, and kitchen backsplash. tiling is hard work all around. if it's on the floor then you're on your knees a lot. if it's not then it's still hard because of layout and it's just generally difficult to get everything looking right. flush, square, true, parallel, plumb and level. it's a challenging trade and a good test for someone because it requires a variety of skills. if someone is good at tiling it probably means they can learn a variety of skills and be good at them as well.
  • could really use some new music to discover. harder to find stuff when you don't listen to the radio, talk to people, or have time to pay attention to this stuff. been looking for a podcast that goes over new stuff, but haven't found a good one yet.
  • speaking of podcasts...down to about 20 episodes after listening to a ton the last week. meryl and i took tuesday off for a road trip and got through a bunch that way. i've also been working 6 days a week lately so that means more podcasts under the belt. one that i started a while back and only just came back to is "up and vanished" which is a true crime cold case type podcast. these are a lot more popular since serial, but serial actually isn't the best of them. anyway, that's been the one i've been binging on lately.
  • s-town was overhyped and not especially worth the time. nice little biopic, but nothing was "solved" or uncovered and that's what i really like from those types of stories. just a story about a somewhat interesting guy who inhaled too much mercury.
  • itunes is the worst program ever.
  • accused is one of the best of the cold case style podcasts i've heard.
  • radiolab has been jumping the shark lately.
  • planet money remains one of my favorites.
  • 538 is great and reliable for reasonable coverage. they do an excellent job of not getting tied up in the b.s.
  • sword and scale is my weekly dose of r/morbidreality.
  • waking up with sam harris is dry and dense, but good. philosophize this is similar. have to be in the right mood.
  • can't wait for uncertain hour and revisionist history to come out with new seasons. they're both great.
  • joe rogan experience is good and offers a lot of different content. definitely a don't judge a book by its cover type show.
  • freakonomics remains a favorite.
  • glenn loury is a new discovery. production is awful, but good point of view.
  • dan carlin doesn't give a lot of new stuff, but he's good and thoughtful and fair.
  • 99pi is always interesting.
  • presidents are people too is entertaining history.
  • pollsters is about half good. half the time it's stupid banter and talking about dumb polls, but the other half is getting into the weeds about how polling works and what polls are saying.
  • all told, i subscribe to about 30 podcasts, so that keeps me pretty busy.
  • merritt's skin is in pretty rough condition most of the time. we think it's eczema, but the doctors haven't been very helpful. she handles it like a champ and i'm very proud of her.
  • zoe loves puzzles and is pretty good at them. she's learned a lot of patience lately because of them. she's also been doing gymnastics which has helped her confidence and klutzy nature quite a bit. love those kids.
  • my favorite one so far:

  • 4/2/17 (19:05)
  • that unc/ore game last night was ridiculous. dorsey needed to step up and didn't. but the worst part was with about 12 seconds left ore had to foul unc to get the ball back. unc had two free throws and bricked them both, but got the offensive rebound so ore had to foul again with only about 6 seconds left. unc bricked both of those and ore still couldn't get a rebound and the clock expired. to be given so many opportunities and to blow it on a simple box out was infuriating. now it's gonzaga vs. unc. tough to know who to root for, but probably going for david over goliath on this one.
  • one of the nice things about working at a single jobsite all day and all week is that i don't have to move my tools around all the time. but the best part is that i get to listen to my podcasts all day. i've 90+ in the queue so i'll need several 8 hour days to get through them all.



    4/1/17 (19:07)

  • been working some weekend days to get this kitchen/bath remodel finished. the bathroom is a big job. the kitchen is pretty much just a facelift.
  • been doing the allergy shot thing for several months now. allergies have started kicking in now which is a little later than last year, but i can't say there's been much improvement overall. blah. i hope it doesn't get much worse. it's not bad right now, just annoying. if it stays there then this has been a success.

  • itunes continues to be probably the worst program in the history of computing.

    3/27/17 (16:13)

  • i'd like people to start pronouncing my name, which is spelled "chris" as "extra special." to be clear, i'm not changing my name to "extra special." my name is still "chris," but it should be pronounced as "extra special." this is the new identity i'd like to take on so i think you need to respect that.
  • i thought about the day without women and the day without immigrants and it reminded me of another strike...the day the taxi drivers decided not to do their job because of uber and lyft. how about if you want to get more business you improve your business? show up on time, work on customer service, etc.  strange concept, i know.
  • march madness is here and that's always a fun time. ucla disappointed. ucd made it to the tourney for the first time ever. they won the d2 national championship my freshman year and now they're in the tourney at d1. i remember playing basketball a bit and playing with guys who played with (and lost to) guys on the basketball team. they lost to the d2 guys, i lost to them, and i was better than half the guys on the cross country team. it's amazing what a jump there is from level to level. i was above average amongst runners, below average in a pickup game on a good court, below that relative to the guys who could even play with d2 players, who could barely keep up with the average guy on a tourney bound d1 team, who get blown out by 40+ points against kansas, which has maybe 2 guys who will make it to the nba, and maybe one of them makes the all star team, but wouldn't ever be considered in the same conversation as dwayne wade who isn't in the same conversation as jordan or bill russell. so, there's like 10 serious jumps in ability before you go from the average baller on the street to being an all-time great. that's something we often forget...the average nba player could mop the floor with the best ymca player you've ever seen.
  • i see mormons in the worst neighborhoods of oakland often enough to take note. say what you will about them, but at least mormons are trying. they're on the front lines in the most impoverished areas of the country/world on a daily basis. these pale as fuck kids go knock on the doors of random black/brown people who most of us don't talk to. again, say what you will about mormons and christians...at least they're out there on the front lines trying to make a difference. and it's not because of a lack of choice. it's not that they're poor and stuck in those neighborhoods and they happen to help those around them or they're just nice people. they have choices and they choose to seek out those who need help. they're better than i am, even if i don't think jesus is necessarily the answer.
  • because of the recent immigration talk i've heard several people talk about wanting no borders or wanting to allow anyone into the country. if that's what you want then fine, but i would hope people would at least think about whether that's what they really want or not. do you really want people to come into the country without knowing anything about them? do you want them to be eligible for government assistance regardless of where they came from, how much they paid into the system, etc.? i suspect that the answer could be yes for some people. when asked how we should pay for it they might say something about cutting funding to the military (16% of the total budget). the military is a bloated jobs program, i agree. it takes a lot of lumps because we spend too much on it, but slashing its funding isn't a panacea.
  • at some point we need to have a serious conversation about what the federal government should be doing and where our money should go. do we want to run a $500 billion deficit every year? are we comfortable being $18 trillion in debt? are we comfortable spending more than half our money on social security and medicare? is that what half of the federal government should be about? what do we want the federal government to be and how much should it cost? the federal government at its best is about tackling the large things that the states or private sector can't (stimulus during economic downturns, large infrastructure like panama canal, interstate highway, hoover dam, national parks) or won't (long term scientific projects like nasa or funding research in things like fusion) address. the problem is that everyone has their hand out for money and congress doesn't know how to say "no" anymore.



    3/14/17 (15:52)

  • last couple weeks we've had a day without women and day without immigrants. i didn't notice, which is contrary to the whole point. the method of going on strike seems very counterproductive. but maybe that's because i'm someone who values getting shit done and so when people walk out it just makes me reflexively dislike whatever it is that is getting them out of work while i'm still working.
  • i wonder what a customer would do if i called them and earnestly told them the $150 i was going to charge them that day to install a toilet could be sent to my address, but sorry i won't be coming in today because i'm striking in solidarity with my immigrant friends or my wife and daughters or something. i somehow suspect that even my socialist customers would balk at that.
  • it's funny because the SJW crowd is keen to point out privilege, but then these same people will support a strike like this...which points out the privilege they enjoy...being able to skip work without consequences....a privilege i don't enjoy.

  • 3/12/17 (20:11)
  • got our taxes all done this month. that was depressing. there's definitely a difference between writing your check quarterly and having your deductions come automatically with a small check (or, more likely, refund) at the end of the year. 4 times a year i'm reminded how much i pay into the system and am forced to think about the value i receive from writing those checks. there are a lot of people who pay a lot more in taxes than we do, but we pay in taxes what i used to make in a year at a time when i thought i was making a lot of money.
  • there were actually two years after i left tower when i made, as far as the government is concerned, less than $7k/year. i got some money under the table from my grandma and lived with her to get the book business slimmed down, i worked as a painter under the table, i traveled around the country for a few months, lived in austin where the cost of living is very cheap, worked for the depart of the interior for $60/week (plus a free room), and generally didn't have many financial burdens. now, on the other hand, we're putting $114k a year into: taxes (#1 expense), mortgage (#2), childcare (#3), and healthcare (#4). so, $114k a year and that doesn't address food, cars, business expenses, clothing, utilities, etc. it's crazy how expensive it is to live once you buy into a certain lifestyle of having kids and a house. our healthcare is the lowest price option. our childcare is only 3 days a week and one of the cheapest we found. our mortgage is probably in the lower half of the bay area considering we put a lot down and our house is within 10% of the median price for the bay area.
  • fun thing is that now i'm going to (hopefully) bring on a new employee. found a guy through zip recruiter (which advertises on a couple podcasts i listen to) and he seems good so far. in order to retain him, i'd like to guarantee him a full-time position. so, that would be another $50k/year on my ledger plus the expenses associated with hiring a person legitimately. $10-15k/year for worker's comp and payroll taxes that i have to match. $65k/year to hire someone in the hopes that they can make at least that much for my business. if it works out then he could potentially make me $15k/year if he's decent, $35k/year if he's great. if it doesn't work then i have to let him go or go to part time and i feel like an asshole. if he's great then he'll probably be making $60k/year. my job is to get him as much work as i can and to put him in a position to succeed. that's a weird shift to make and one i've read a lot about from other tradesmen. a lot of them can't put down the hammer and it kills the growth of their business. but, if you can figure out how to realize that your new job is facilitating and lining up work for those you've trained...then you can be successful.



    3/8/17 (17:22)

  • finally got the office in useable condition. was waiting on the desk because of the aforementioned epoxy issue. didn't come out perfect even the second time, even after doing a second seal coat as the manufacturer recommended. porous wood is probably part of the issue, but the edges are ripply as well so i'm overall not super impressed by the product. oh well.
  • a lot has happened since i was regularly updating here. i think january was the first month since 1998 that i went a whole month without an update. pretty upset that i broke that streak. but kids.
  • started phasing in more work in SF for meryl's brother this week. goal is to work for him about 4 days a week, but i don't think that'll happen at first because there will be a lot of planning and not as much actual working getting done. in the meantime, i've been basically turning away a couple jobs every day. i've been trying to hire someone and so far it hasn't really worked out. lots of deadbeats so far. it's been my experience that there are a lot of people who say they want a job, but don't really want to work. they want money and to be able to say they have a job or are looking for work, but when it comes to actually acquiring the job and doing the work...not so much. i've always hated looking for work so part of me understands this. on the other hand, as a handyman, i'm sorta applying for a new job everytime i get an email request from someone. in a way i have the job already most of the time, in another way i have to do the basic things that are required in any job interview: prove that i'm not crazy, outline what what i can do and what my salary requirements are. sometimes i'll have a new "boss" 5 times a day. yet in another sense i'm my own boss because i can tell any of them to go away if i want.
  • anyway, whatever you want to call it, it's suited me pretty well so far. this new thing will be a bit different in a lot of ways, but i feel like it's the direction i want/need to go in the long run so it should be good. i'm not cutting off any ties so i'll still be able to work for myself 1-2 times a week and keep some active customers. my eggs won't all be in one basket and if i ever find someone who can do the work i do, i'll have them doing what i usually do and make some money off giving them the leads and the guidance.
  • being in SF is a daily adventure. i pretty much hate that city and the people who live there. parking is a total pain in the ass. saw an old lady plow into a work truck the other day while backing into a spot. she had plenty of space, she was just incapable of driving. then she pulls forward and parks partly in someone's driveway, locks the door and walks away. she looked at the wrecked bumper and didn't even hesitate. what a bitch. another day i parked about 18" in the red, but no part of my truck was in the curb cut for someone's driveway and got a note that said they would have me ticketed if i didn't move. this list of this kind of shit is endless and literally almost daily. i work all over oakland and am in my truck quite a bit and interacting with tenants and homeowners all the time. i can say without reservation that the people in oakland are cut from a very different cloth than the people in SF or berkeley. the world revolves around people in berkeley and SF. the idea of "live and let live" might enter their politics, but not their actual lives. it's actually pretty amazing in its consistency.
  • mississippi state flag case is going to SCOTUS i guess. i think the claim is that the confederate flag has caused emotional pain for the plaintiff. this is one of those cases where you might sympathize with the sentiment (the racist flag probably shouldn't be hoisted above the capitol daily), but the complaint and the function of the federal government don't really come together to do anything about it. that is, the idea that you've undergone emotional pain because of a flag is a bit much. and the function of the federal government isn't to tell the states that their flag is kinda racist. unfortunately, i think there are a lot of people who want the government way more involved in daily life so there are going to be a lot of upset people if that case doesn't work out the way they want.
  • maybe i'm just more immune to this kind of crap than most, but i literally can't imagine a flag that would offend me so much that i'd suffer mental anguish and want to take the case to the supreme court. leave it up to the citizens of the state. if they decide to keep it again (last time they voted on it they decided to keep the flag 2:1) then it's just another example of bad judgment from mississippi.

  • found the above image on a late stage capitalism site. i think the problem is that a lot of people don't understand or think about the real economy or how value is created or what markets are about. they don't understand them and they get frustrated. or they don't see it working for them and they get jealous. vern and i did this with jon by calling him the bourgeoisie all the time on the job site (he was our boss while we had the summer painting business). but the truth is that the total value "you" produce, isn't. remember what Obama said "you didn't build that," well it goes both ways. you didn't develop the customer base, the infrastructure, the systems and efficiencies, you didn't put up the initial capital or risk...your labor produces value because of those around you, before you, and above you. so, the cute image is just pandering b.s. from someone who hasn't thought about how an economy actually works.
  • the age divide between trump/hillary voters is actually very similar to the gender divide. i wonder why no one really talks about that? laziness. nate silver put up a graphic that got widely picked up about how the election would look if only wo/men voted and that got a lot of traction because we're in the mode of talking about gender. men voted 53/41 trump/hillary. 65+ voted 53/45 trump/hillary. 45-64 voted 53/44 trump/hillary. women voted 42/54 trump/hillary. but because the candidates were male/female, the narrative was all about men vs. women. then things got even more gendered when hillary brought up the miss america thing and then grab them by the pussy tape got released. so, a narrative is created and strengthened while a parallel truth is hardly explored at all. this is almost completely the fault of the media which lacks imagination, nuance and intelligence. in an alternate world the narrative could have been all about the old people voting in a clown, while the young people were on the right side of history. the media could have talked about the $18T in debt racked up by the 44+ crowd. their entitlements and debt service fees now account for about 55% of the total budget and here they are voting in an authoritarian. that doesn't make very good tv, though.



    3/8/17 (08:45)

  • impressive.
  • just a friendly reminder that wilbon and kornheiser are close friends with maury povich.

  • 2/28/17 (21:52)

  • finally got the desk up and running. the epoxy turned out better, but not perfect, the second time around. stripping it and sanding it all down was a major pain in the ass.
  • pg&e bill has been $900+ for the last two months combined. totally ridiculous. part of that is because of the epoxy project which required one room in the house be at 75 degrees for 3 days (twice), but the rest of it....?
  • hiring someone has been quite difficult. finding anyone with any skills and the ability to follow through has been near impossible so far. trying out a guy tomorrow, but he already has a part time job so i don't know if it'll work out how i want. the labor shortage in the trades is a blessing and a curse.
  • going to be getting away from working for myself, we'll see how it goes. i'll be managing projects for meryl's brother adam. he invests in properties in SF that he flips so it'll be my job to run the flips. i'll be doing some of the work, dealing the city and managing the trades. parts of that are more exciting than others. it being in SF is probably the biggest downer. i pretty much hate that city and the fact that it's an hour commute really sucks. but it's also where i want to end up in my career (managing projects, not being in SF), so it's a move in the right direction career-wise. if i can get some help from a semi-skilled person (i'm willing to train) who can manage doing the little jobs that i've been doing the last few years myself, then that would be ideal. they would do those little things (i have a steady supply of that work) and i would earn a spread on their work. if that slowed down or i needed help on a project in SF, then i would bring them in on that.
  • lots to write about, no time.

  • 2/18/17 (09:41)

  • office is undergoing a renovation, hence the lack of updates.

  • working on getting the desktop completed, but ran into an issue with the bar top epoxy so that's a pain in the ass. strip it all and redo. blah.

    January 2017
    "nada nada nada, not a damn thing."