12/26/19 (20:02)
  • Cosmic Crisp is a new type of apple developed by the state of Washington. Planet Money did an episode about it that was pretty interesting. The long and short of it is that the new apple isn't all that great. Tried one the other day and it's not as good as pink lady. edit: Tried another and it tasted better. Worth a shot.
  • There's a not insignificant portion of outcasts who purposely go out of their way to be different, freaks, outcasts, etc. As society has become more socially liberal, though, these people are having to go to greater and greater lengths to show that they are outside of normal society. James Dean could do it by popping his collar, the next generation did it by growing long hair and smoking pot, the next generation did it with mohawks and studded jackets, and nowadays they have to tattoo their necks and get really unusual/multiple piercings. A couple tattoos on your hands or arms isn't enough anymore. In order to really get the point across you have to tattoo your neck/face. Same goes for piercings. It's a tough gig being a rebel these days. Makes one wonder what they'll have to do in 20 years.

  • Yesterday's rebel vs. today's:

  • Not sure if I've written about it before, but there's a Larry Nassar podcast called Believed which is really great. Recently there was another podcast about it on Without Fail. The woman on there was totally boss. She did everything right and was really smart about how she approached helping take him down. He was a grade A piece of shit and it's amazing how long it took to take him down.
  • It's interesting that liberals tend to be against monopolies (and large corporations in general), yet they also are more than willing to give the government a monopoly. Personally, I hate large centers of power (whatever form they take) and monopolies are especially problematic. Competition (if it's real) is what keeps people honest (price and customer service-wise). Part of the problem we have now is that the government sucks as most of what it tries to do where markets would be better, and markets are rigged in favor of the large entities which can bend the government to their will (crony capitalism). We don't have the free markets that we used to have.
  • There should also probably be some kind of two-tiered system where large corporations have a different set of rules than small businesses. When it comes to my family I believe in communism. When it comes to society I believe in capitalism. This same sort of scale adjustment should apply to the business sector. Small businesses have a different set of rules than large businesses. This already exists in healthcare, for example, where firms with fewer than 50 employees don't need to provide healthcare. This is an additional burden that only medium-large firms have. This thinking should probably extend further and should ramp up significantly with very large firms like Amazon, Wal-Mart, etc.
  • Niners have gone 4-3 in their last 7 games. Seahawks is their last game so that will be tough. They look like a legit team overall, but definitely not the best team in the league as the 8-0 start would have made you think. They've been in some really close games over those last 7. They lost to Atlanta most recently and it's a perfect example of how betting can drive a person to suicide. They were up by a few points with 3 seconds left and then Atlanta scored a TD to go ahead 4 points (iirc) with 2 seconds left. Niners got the kickoff and tried to lateral the ball enough to get into the endzone, but it failed miserably and they fumbled. Instead of jumping on the ball and ending the game, the Atlanta defense grabbed the ball and ran it in for a defensive TD. They technically scored 13 points in 2 seconds (the fastest in NFL history). These final two plays pushed the final game score over the over/under for the game. So, if you bet the under then you were looking all good with 3 seconds left in the game. With zero seconds left in the game you were jumping off a bridge.
  • Why do we get paid bi-weekly instead of weekly? Yet another holdover from WW2 government intervention (kinda like employers offering benefits like healthcare due to wage freezes). Planet Money #957 for more info.
  • The Joy Of Cooking has a new revision. It's been out for almost 90 years and has undergone several revisions in that time. This time around, though, the authors took it upon themselves to change literally every recipe in the book. This is liberal thinking run amok. At no point in the 4 year process of trying out recipes and thinking about the book did the new authors (non-professionals, by the way) apparently think to themselves "Hey maybe we shouldn't feel it necessary to revise EVERY SINGLE recipe. Maybe our grandparents knew how to cook chocolate chip cookies just fine and we should leave a few recipes alone." I just find this thinking to be really hubristic. It's perfectly within the confines of precedent to remove a recipe about cooking possum or introducing new recipes as new trends/ingredients come into fashion, but to revise every recipe is just ridiculous. podcast about the new book.
  • In his new book, Malcolm Gladwell talks a lot about alcohol and how it has fed the "campus rape crisis" that people are talking about more because of #metoo. He rightly points out that it's much more an issue of an alcohol crisis than anything else. Binge drinking is worse than previous generations and hookup culture is uniquely bad at addressing the issues of binge drinking. Drinking a lot of alcohol leads to myopia and short term thinking, so the research says. It's basically just a bad mix of factors that lead to a lot of regretful sex and sexual assault. If you drink a lot in a culture that values propriety and chastity then you get something other than sexual assault and regretful sex. Maybe you get fights or people drinking and driving, but you don't get bunch of people taking advantage of each other.
  • In a perfect world we would probably acknowledge all the differences we have and celebrate them in some non-superior way. Men have an inflated sense of what they can do. Some call this being cocky. It certainly has led to many of them not quite making that jump off the cliff into the water below. But it's also the kind of attribute that has won a lot of wars or got us to the moon. All these attributes are a double edged sword. Too little and certain things don't get done anymore. Too much and society gets out of wack. Carefully pruning what a society accepts is difficult.
  • Trump is enough of an idiot that you don't need to make shit up. For example: a recent straw man argument about Trump raising metal tariffs with the excuse that it's a national security issue. A lot of pundits derided the reasoning pointing out that Canada provides most of our metal imports. "What are we going to be at war with Canada?! Haha, Trump is such a fucking idiot!" It's a cheap shot that doesn't take the argument seriously either because they are partisan or engaged in lazy thinking. The steel man argument for the metal tariffs as a national security issue is that, if we were to go to war, we wouldn't want to rely on the imports of another country to provide us with the metal we require. So, we advantage our metal making infrastructure now so that it's ready in the event of an emergency. It's a simple argument and one that we fully understood during WW2, but people will take a shot at Trump any chance they get. Unfortunately, for me at least, this has the effect not of me hating Trump more (I hate him plenty already), but of distrusting those in the media who have this response. It just makes you look like a partisan hack who isn't a good faith actor in the process.
  • According to one of the Epstein podcasts out there Bill Clinton claims he went on four trips with Epstein on his private plane, but the podcast found that he was actually listed on the manifest for at least six trips and 27 flights in total. Kevin Spacey was with them, but the secret service was not. I'm hoping that this story doesn't die. It really paints a picture of rich jetsetters as living a totally different life than the average person.

  • 12/1/19 (21:58)

  • Just got back from another college football rivalry game. Went with the girls to ASU to see them play AZ. Game started at 8p local time so we only got through the first half and then had to leave. Drove for a bit more to the outskirts of Phoenix and then drove 700 miles today. Thanksgiving traffic is the worst. Not bad early leave from Phoenix, but half way from LA to Oakland it got pretty bad. 14.5 hours from Phoenix to Oakland (includes stops). The girls were great. They actually travel very well overall now.
  • We had a rough spot midway through the trip when they were being bratty, but we also ask a lot of them since our version of roadtripping includes a lot of stops and activities. We're very lucky that we have two great daughters.
  • Along the way we also hit up Joshua Tree National Park, Hearst Castle, saw my dad, saw my aunt, saw my grandma, Saguaro National Park, Phoenix and Tucson, and lots of eateries and things along the way. The Phoenix aquarium is really nice and rivals Monterey Bay (though I haven't been in 10 years). I've been to Phoenix a few times, but never spent a whole day there going all over the place like we did this time. Really spread out and not a great city overall. Luke nailed it when he said it's the worst of Texas and LA.
  • While in LA I found out that my favorite restaurant of all-time has closed down. This is profoundly depressing. I was really looking forward to eating there and have a lot of memories of going there with my grandma. I'll never go there again. Apparently they needed to do some government mandated upgrades to the septic system as part of a city wide effort, and couldn't afford it so they closed instead. This really adds insult to injury for me. Not a huge fan of the government lately and this is just one more example.

  • The trip wasn't all bad for the government, though, as I was reminded of the greatness that is the NPS. We have an annual pass to the national parks and have definitely gotten our money's worth this year. They say that the national parks are America's Greatest Idea...not sure I'd go that far, but they are pretty great. Not real good at keeping the trips pages updated lately. In general I haven't done a great job updating this page or my movie reviews. I'll catch up with everything, but it won't be as good as it used to be when I would bring the laptop along and update as the trip progressed or review movies the day I saw them. Family and work have supplanted that stuff.

    11/21/19 (20:29)

  • "Prevalence induced concept change" explains a lot of things and puts a name to something I've thought about for a while. Basically it states that "When instances of a concept become less prevalent, the concept may expand to include instances that it previously excluded, thereby masking the magnitude of its own decline." An example is in woke culture where seemingly every micro aggression is seen as racism, while losing sight of what real racism can look like. In the 1950s racism was putting black people in the back of the bus, different neighborhoods, and creating a totally different class within society. In 2010s racism is calling a black person eloquent. There are a ton of examples of this treadmill effect in society. I've spoken before about the widening definition of "rights" as normal human rights are taken for granted. In this case, the real rights are so prevalent that they are forgotten and so the concept needs to expand to include other instances which were previously excluded.
  • In a recent episode of Forum (local NPR program) they were talking about the mass shooting stuff. They had a sociologist on talking about this new database of mass shootings (which for some reason excludes gang related shootings and domestic shootings). I think those exclusions are quite a big deal and I'm not sure why they decided to leave them out. Also, surprisingly (and contrary to the dominant media narrative) half of the mass shootings in the database (after exclusions) were by non-whites.
  • My personal experience indicates to me that people would rather live in a gutter because of their own decisions, than take the advice of others and live in a decent place with a steady job. People place a very high premium on being able to say they're doing it their own way. I'm probably one of these people, but I'm also not begging on the street so at least there's that.
  • Democrats talk a lot about voter suppression. To be clear - voter suppression shouldn't happen, but it's not the thing they think it is. They think it's the reason they lose close elections. The reason they lose close elections is that 45% of eligible voters didn't show up in 2016. Meanwhile they bitch about 1% of the people who were maybe purged from voter roles or whatever. It's the "Nader stole the election" shit all over again and it has become such a pathetic stereotype of the party. They're the party of no personal responsibility (in the minds of die hard Republicans) and this constant blaming of others for their losses just feeds that narrative. Hillary blamed just about everyone but herself (Putin, Russia, deplorables, Comey, the media, voter suppression, a vast right wing conspiracy, etc.).
  • 2016 saw a 55% turnout. The 2014 midterms saw a 36% turnout. Was that voter suppression? In 2018 the midterm elections saw a 50% turnout. 5 percentage points lower than 2016, but 14 points higher than the most recent midterm election. Again - is that voter suppression? The greatest voter suppression is a shit system with shit candidates who lie, cheat, and steal all the time. Be better and people will turnout more and care more. Or, you know, you can piss and moan about the Republicans and see where that gets you. It sorta worked in 2018?
  • The truth is that Democrats are kinda lazy and they just don't turn out for the midterms. Look at the black vote in 2016 - without Obama to vote for it dipped greatly and Hillary lost. If the black vote turned out like it did under Obama then we'd have Hillary as president. 538 has pointed this out several times. Maybe the Democrats should blame blacks for not turning out next? Eventually they're going to have to do that after they run out of other people to blame.
  • Just a reminder that the Democrats lost 1,000 seats under Obama. Maybe they need to change their strategy a bit? Again, 2018 seemed to work for them, but you can't run against Trump forever (hopefully you won't ever be able to again after 2020).
  • Niners are looking pretty good this year. One loss to Seattle in OT. As I noted to Luke before the Seattle game - they've played 8 games, but the teams they played had a total of 22 wins at that point. I think they only faced like two teams with a winning record. Going forward I foresee some tough games a as many as 5 losses. Ending the season 3-5 would be a disappointment for sure, but they would still probably be in the playoffs so that's a big win. But at 8-0 going against Seattle as a +7 favorite, I definitely had Seattle in that one. Always look at the schedule.
  • Check out the Frontline documentary on Trump and DACA. It was good (they almost always are). Steve Bannon really seems to open up about the inside discussions. Say what you will about him, but he's a smart guy and a strategic and deep thinker. He ends up on the "wrong side" of most things, but he's definitely thought about this stuff and had a strategy early on. Ann Coulter getting laughed at because she said that Trump had the best chance of winning (out of all the remaining Republicans at the time) was a highlight. It pretty much summarizes how a lot of Trump voters probably feel - they feel like they're right while all the intelligencia class are constantly laughing at them like they're common morons.
  • Private security is a major industry these days. This has happened fairly quietly over the last 20 or so years. To me it shows two things: the class divide in America between those with money and those without AND the failure of local governments to carry out a basic portion of their mandate. Most big stores have private security on site now - Ross, HD, etc. It's really a sad state of affairs.
  • We're facing major failures of another kind of police - the government regulators. The SEC new about Madoff's ponzi scheme and did nothing about it until they were essentially forced to by a single person. The FAA failed with Boeing because they didn't understand the changes and failed to ask questions. The CPUC failed with PG&E and enforcing maintenance schedules. The FDA failed with Juul (vaping) because they bought the claim that vaping was better than smoking (probably true) and didn't insist on any testing (oops). With all these failures (and plenty more), we have to ask if the government should be trusted with even more things to regulate. These regulatory arms seem to be basically in bed with the firms/sectors they are supposed to regulate at the higher levels. At the lower levels (mom and pop outfits) it seems like they just increase the cost of doing business. This is definitely a simplification, but there's a not insignificant portion of the regulatory apparatus that is failing to perform basic functions.
  • Back hurts. at my age, and doing what I do, it seems like I always have a pain and it just moves around my body. Sometimes it's in my shoulder or elbow or wrist or back. I haven't been pain free for about two years.
  • On an old episode of Ezra Klein he was talking about how we don't have discussions about what it means to be a good person anymore. He went on to argue that it was a result of individual thinking...I don't recall the exact reasoning behind this, but it seems to me that it's far more a function of a postmodern society than it is on a society that emphasizes the individual. After all, how can we make any judgments on what it is to be good if everything is just a construct of those in power? How can one thing be better than another if nothing means anything and all cultures and choices are arbitrary and equally acceptable? Unless you contend with this mindset you'll never be able to have a discussion about what being a good person is because a good person is a hierarchy of values. Being good means that you can place one value above another and you can't ever do that if it's all just made up, arbitrary, and the result of rich white guys who have always been in charge.
  • Hugo Black was a Supreme Court justice appointed under FDR. Earlier in life he was also in the KKK. FDR - liberal hero and top 5 president of all time. The one who literally put Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. With the level of revisionist history and looking into people's past that is occurring these days, it's remarkable that any of our presidents are considered good anymore. FDR defeated the Nazis, so he's always got that going for him.
  • Speaking of being sanctimonious...why is it that Justin Trudeau is always in blackface? And why are some media outlets calling it "brownface?" Weird.
  • The Virginia governor situation seems to have gone away. It's hard to keep track of all this shit. I think they were able to ride it out...the governor wore blackface and the lt. governor had sexual assault allegations, IIRC.
  • Harvard is being sued by Asians who say they are discriminating against Asians in their admissions. I haven't looked into it much, but the numbers I've heard seem to indicate that this is true. Of course they're smart enough to not make it too obvious. But everyone has crafty way of being racist without seeming racist. When selecting a jury you're not supposed to select by race, so lawyers will use proxies for race instead. My understanding is that courts have historically judged that if the EFFECT is racist then the intent doesn't matter. This effect vs. intent issue doesn't always apply, though, and that's deeper into the weeds than I remember. But in lots of law, saying "no one who likes Wendy Williams is allowed in this store" is basically the equivalent of saying "straight men only" and, thus, is against the law. Anyway, Harvard is going to say they're selecting based upon hardship or some other range of criteria that just happens to disadvantage asians.
  • My problem with this is that we need to be consistent. Kentucky has one of the best basketball programs in the country. Perhaps they should start denying spots on their roster to black players to make room for Asians who might just need more access to better coaching and workout facilities and might bring in a diversity of thought on zone vs. man on man defenses. If the country's best university can select based on race to the detriment of Asians can Princeton do it to the detriment of blacks? I truly don't understand where you draw the lines on this stuff. Please explain it if you do.
  • The US is more religious than most of Europe and yet they have more restrictive abortions laws than we do (in terms of limiting how late you can get one). I wonder if US-based pro-choice advocates would be okay with a cap on abortions at 12 weeks? If it meant funding planned parenthood, would they be open to that? Also interesting to note that women are actually more pro-life than men in most of the polls I've found (51/46). So that whole narrative of "men are telling me what I can do with my body" is a bit off (it also misses the entire pro-life argument that a fetus is a life - hence it's not your body). Women also tend to be more religious than men so that's probably part of it.
  • Chappelle got some flack over his latest special, but I thought it was vintage Chappelle. Thoughtful and funny. I've said before that when it comes to a man's right to choose that you shouldn't expect to have a choice once you do the deed. Don't stick your dick in crazy and you won't have a problem. The notion of only having sex within the confines of a committed and serious relationship seems to be lost these days, so new rules need to be made. Chappelle basically said that he supports a woman's unilateral right to choose, but that (in exchange) a man should also have a unilateral right to abandon the baby. Sounds fair enough. I guess these are the dumb rules we end up making when the sex after marriage rule gets kicked to the curb.
  • Apparently the 3 richest people in the world have the same wealth as the bottom half.
  • Liberals: our inner cities are suffering from years of disinvestment and police brutality, etc. etc. etc.
  • Trump: our inner cities are shitholes.
  • Liberals: our inner cities are thriving areas of diversity and inclusion and should be lauded for their greatness
  • Please explain. You'd think this would at least be the beginning of a conversation. Both sides agree that ghettos exist and are no good, but as soon as Trump says it, liberals seem to feel the compulsion to prove him wrong. The exact thing happened with Obama. He even adopted their shitty healthcare plan and they dropped it like a sack of potatoes. All these people are just so fucking stupid and inconsistent.
  • Some day there will be another natural or man made disaster and the government will say it's okay to go outside and buy stuff or return to normal life. You'd be wise to not believe them. Not just because the government is full of liars, but because they have a history of lying about this kind of things specifically. I remember seeing the towers go down and the news reporting that the government was saying it was okay to be outside while the towers were burning. Always seemed pretty odd to me. Same thing happened after the Flint crisis. The city officials said that the water was okay to drink, but they hadn't even tested it. Meanwhile people were dying because of Legionnaires. Classic.
  • Kaepernick got some workouts. I don't see him going anywhere. I've never thought he was that great, but I was always an Alex Smith fan. I think he probably deserved to be in the league and has a good case for being discriminated against, but the pain in the ass factor is high with him and the juice just isn't worth the squeeze in his case. He's a middling QB with one or two throws and a low football IQ. His rating actually showed some improvement his last year, after declining most of his career. The ESPN QBR tells a different story, however (not sure of the difference between QBR and rating...maybe takes into account W-L). His win-loss record and the kneeling buried him. If I had a bunch of time I'd compare these numbers to the mean QB and see where he landed. The last couple years he put up mediocre numbers on a bad team. I think Alex Smith was better at this time, but I don't think Kaepernick was the worst QB in the league, and the numbers support that.
  • Year Rating QBR (ESPN) W-L
    2012 98.3 71.8 5-2
    2013 91.6 65.7 12-4
    2014 86.4 60.9 8-8
    2015 78.5 43.4 2-6
    2016 90.7 49.5 1-10

    10/24/19 (22:22)

  • The pursuit of truth is the primary theme of the movie Pi and that may be the major reason I've always loved the film. Of course the style and the soundtrack are also great, but the single man striving to find a fundamental truth about the universe is a universal theme and one that I think resonates with me more than average. As my writings here indicate, I'm more interested in the truth of things (as much as humans are capable of knowing it) than I am in the perception. It really seems that we live in a post truth world these days. And this feeling has me wanting to go the way of the protagonist in Pi. For those who don't remember or haven't seen it - he give himself a lobotomy in the end. Life would be so much simpler if I could just live in my world. Where my perception is reality. Don't question my perception because why would I? I saw what I saw and that's all I need to know. I don't say this flippantly. I really would prefer it that way. Being right doesn't grant you any extra points or moral authority - it just makes you look like a dick.
  • Perhaps there's a way of being right, but not appearing to be a dick. But even when it's something painfully obvious, and the person who is wrong is totally reprehensible, being right and standing by the truth just seems kind of petty and dickish. I'm thinking of Trump standing by his comments that his inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama's. This is demonstrably false and everyone knows it. Yet, somehow, I can't shake the feeling that a) this is a petty conversation and the media should have just done a fact check and moved on. and b) the media looked like a bunch of dicks by constantly bringing it up and pointing out that Trump was totally wrong. They were doing their job to some extent and they were 100% correct in their facts and yet it just came off as dickish and petty to me.
  • I have this in mind because the parents in Zoe's class got the following email about a recent school board meeting. As I've written here before - OUSD is awful, full of lies, and is doing the wrong thing in closing schools. They're approaching the entire thing in the wrong way and they are disingenuous in all their dealings with the public. With that said, here's what our teacher wrote:

  • Please see the videos uploaded to the oaklandnotforsale.com (edit: I linked to the least edited video available) website on the Media page for an idea of what happened last night at the School Board meeting.

    The Oakland community came together with parents, children, and teachers across Oakland in support of stopping the Blueprint for Quality Schools initiative, and to keep all public schools OPEN in Oakland. We spoke, sang, and chanted in peaceful protest. (edit: until we jumped over the barrier in a coordinated manner and pulled it down while some of us ran towards the stage) The School Board were cordoned off from the community with metal barriers, and a dozens (edit: must have been a typo. there were about a dozen officers at peak.) of OUSD officers. When we all approached the podium in solidarity with a parent speaker, the OUSD police used violence to push us back. (edit: this isn't true. look at the video. the police used violence to those who crossed or were on top of the barriers)

    Six people (parents and a retired teacher) were arrested (later cited and released). Several teachers and parents were brutally hit with batons and pushed down. One parent had to go to the hospital with a leg injury.

    All of this was done while the School Board had already excused themselves to a closed room elsewhere and locked the door, continuing their meeting without community involvement. (edit: according to multiple reports here and here, this is mostly false. 1) per the video, OUSD left the room after the protesters broke down the barriers. 2) per the reports I linked to OUSD continued the meeting in a closed room which had video setup and "The podium was knocked over, but public comments continued while the board members stayed in a separate room.") The OUSD police were lined up to protect an empty stage and seats from the parents, children, and teachers of Oakland.

    It is clear how the School Board and the OUSD administration views the community. Please take a look at the videos on the website and see for yourself.

    We will continue to protest peacefully for the right to a free and quality education for ALL students in Oakland. THANK YOU families who attended last night, and who were with us in spirit. PLEASE continue to support us in this important struggle!

  • The other video from the site is pure agitprop and can be seen here.
  • I know a lot of the people involved in this and 1) it's disappointing to see the propaganda that gets put out on a regular basis from people I know and should be able to trust. It's one thing to hear lies and propaganda from OUSD and its PR man, but it's another to hear it from your first grader's teacher. I have a natural distrust for large groups of power - corporations, school boards, the government...but it would be nice to be able to believe your kid's teacher. 2) I really disagree with the notion that because you're not getting your way you can incite a violent situation for political gain. I know most people agree with this when it comes to incels, white supremacists, and the like. The guy at Charlottesville was just notching it up a bit. He was probably upset with his inability to get what he wanted. One person can't change anything. The white supremacists who were protesting weren't making any headway, so they may as well start running people over. If the line isn't violence or inciting violence or obeying laws then where's the line? The line is wherever the craziest person in the group draws it.
  • It's not exactly the same, but it's the natural progression of the thinking that comes about when you say it's okay to go outside the normal channels when you feel like you're not being heard. It evokes visions of Israelis and Palestinians who constantly have some story about how the other side did something bad earlier than the most recent bad thing their side did. It's absolutely a slippery slope and I don't buy into the "slippery slope is a fallacy" argument.
  • The first test for any outside of the norms political activity has to be "what if my worst enemy did the same thing I'm advocating for?" That goes for trying to make a protest get violent because it'll make the other side look bad. That goes for excessive use of executive orders. That goes for the legislative "nuclear option." That goes for excessive use of the filibuster. etc. etc. etc.
  • We're at a stage now in our politics where each side doesn't much care about playing the game for the long haul. If you care about playing a game with someone for a long time then you obey the rules of the game. In tennis, the analogy is that you are trying to get a good volley. Sometimes they have the ball and other times you have the ball. You're not trying to slam it on their side every time. There's a back and forth and respect between players. What we have now is that when each side gets the ball they are doing whatever they can to win the point, without any concept of the longer game. Unfortunately there are a lot of things that we can't address when we play the game this way. I think any reasonable and impartial observer would be hard pressed to believe or trust any of the players involved in this OUSD saga or in national politics. Everyone involved has professional liars on their side and they seemingly have no problem manufacturing bullshit and disharmony in the name of winning their side of the game. Nothing good is going to come from this.
  • If you know of an easy way to get a targeted lobotomy, let me know.
  • "There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them." - George Orwell
  • There's a certain horseshoe effect with intelligence that I've thought a lot about and Orwell captures perfectly in that quote. Dumb people think really dumb things. Smart people think smart things. Really really smart people often go so far around the horseshoe that they end up essentially being pretty dumb on some issues.
  • It's called fashion, look it up:

  • 10/22/19 (21:09)
  • Guess this Oakland rapper didn't get the memo that you're not supposed to say "Frisco."
  • I forgot to upload some old updates...below.
  • What's the societal purpose of the news and does the reporting that most of the news media does fulfill it? The reason they have constitutional protections is probably because of their unwritten mandate to check those in power (4th estate). There's a lot of other stuff they do, though, that's just about keeping people up to date on what's going on in the country/community. Overall I think their function isn't well defined within the newsroom and, as a result, they end up chasing a lot of things that aren't all that valuable to society. Shock stories, over-reacting to tweets, over-reporting on Trump, etc. Education remains my number one issue and the media aren't holding up their end of the bargain very well (overall).
  • Something that seems to be lost in the discussion about gender equality is that men make up not only the top of the income bracket, but also the bottom. They're more likely to be CEOs than women, and also more likely to be homeless or in jail. And it's not even really close. Of course the easy retort to that is that they commit more crime than women, which is true. But it's odd that if you used that comment when talking about the higher rate of incarceration of black men, then you would instantly get push back and equivocation. I think the average "woke" person would easily fall into thinking that men are naturally more prone to criminal behavior (biological essentialism) and they would justify the unequal rate of incarceration of men in this way. But if you were to apply the same reason to black people then any discussion of biological essentialism would be clearly racist.
  • I bring this up not to show that race is so important, and I don't even bring it up to question the biological essentialism argument that finds men vastly over-represented in prisons. I bring it up to point out that there are naturally going to be times when certain groups are over-represented in certain areas. As a man, I could say that it's a societal failure that 90%+ of federal prison inmates are men. "This could only be the result of a sexist society!" But I think this is largely incorrect. I think men commit more crimes and deserve to be in prison at a greater rate than women. Now, you could envision some theoretical world where crimes of manipulation are prosecuted or where holding out sex for money is considered a crime or and perhaps that would close the gender gap. But this is mostly ridiculous and would never bring the gender gap in incarceration to 0. I could complain that men are over-represented as bad guys in movies and point to that as a problem. "Shouldn't we aspire to bring equity to our prison population? Perhaps we should encourage a 50/50 representation of men and women as villains in movies. If men see that being a bad guy isn't just a male pattern, then maybe young men will change their thinking." If I think long enough about this I could probably come up with all sorts of wacky ideas.
  • No matter how I work the gender and race stuff around in my head I can't get over the fact that the most important thing is the individual. That's one advantage of the individual-centered mindset over the collectivist one. It's a lot easier to judge people based upon their behavior as an individual when you think of society as a group of individuals. When you think about groups as the predominate organizing unit, though, then you're probably much more likely to get swept into thinking about those groups - whether it be race, gender, caste, or whatever your society is fixated on. It matters very little to a white guy in West Virginia who makes $7/hr that he has the genital and melanin makeup of 90% (?) of Fortune 500 CEOs. It conveys no extra pep in his step or money in his wallet. And yet, to the group thinking person, this is a defining characteristic. It's a very odd way of thinking, imo.
  • So Trump is pulling troops out of Syria and the Kurds are feeling left behind. I don't fully understand the situation, but from what I can gather...Turkey is going nuts and all the right thinking intelligencia is pissed off about this. To me this is a really baffling turn of events. For 40 years I've heard from the intellgencia folks...all the elites and right thinking people, that America is a colonial power spreading its imperialism wherever it goes. The American military is evil and shouldn't be allowed anywhere. "US out of North America" as the bumper sticker says. The implication being that the US is so evil and imperialistic it should leave its own land because the US doesn't even have any rightful land. Okay, so that's been the story my entire life from the likes of the NYT and its ilk - American military bad.
  • Then Trump pulls troops out and the NYT podcast "The Daily" says "It's almost impossible to understand unless bringing troops home is the highest good." They went on to say that it was entirely baffling and bad for the region in every way (that was the gist). I just don't understand how these people make sense of the world. Now all of a sudden there's some gradations in their thinking on the American military. The liberals who were disappointed by Obama's failure to adequately retreat from Afghanistan and Iraq are now seemingly coming to Jesus on the usefulness of the American military. This stuff is just crazy to me.
  • For my part I would rather have the world's best military than have another country have it so I don't get too bent out of shape by the spending we do in that arena. It's probably twice what it should be, but it's not a huge issue for me. However, I would like to see us pull out of military entanglements. Keeping strategic bases in Germany, Korea, etc. seems to make sense. I would also like the countries that benefit from our presence to pay us since we're doing unpaid security for them. As far as Syria or other situations like that go...if the international community (with an emphasis on countries in the region) can agree that American muscle should be used to stabilize a situation AND if it's in our interests (peacekeeping, direct security interests, etc.) then I'm fine with us using our muscle in that way. But if other countries aren't on board or don't have skin in the game (they have to pony up some troops or hardware or money), then we don't need to be there. Since I don't think Syria fits those criteria, I don't have a problem with us pulling out. If things change and Germany and Iraq and a majority of other UN nations say we should have some peacekeeping troops in Syria to help the Kurds (or diminish the regional power of Russia, if that's what you're thinking), then I'm fine with it.



    9/26/19 (21:38)

  • The older I get the more I see the benefits of organized religion. It's certainly not for me and I used to be pretty against it. I thought it a stupid thing to think of a man in the sky. I thought of the multiple down sides like the crusades or the Catholic Church's pedophilia problems. I thought it was an easy way to control the masses and provide simple answers for simple people. I still agree with all of that, at least to a great extent, but I also now see some of the benefits. Controlling the simple masses is actually a benefit as well as a negative. But I see a lot of problems with today's society like those discussed in "Bowling Alone" - the loss of community, the isolation of individuals (especially in today's technological society). These things are discussed by left and right alike and yet only some on the right are aware of the role that church once played in helping develop community. Of course this can be a double edged sword if misapplied (southern baptists looking down their nose at Catholics or whatever), but the problem there doesn't need to be religion, per se, it could be the misapplication thereof. Does religion necessarily lead to tribalism and is the cost of a low level of tribalism bearable because the benefit of increased community outweighs it?
  • The church community has also long been a social safety net that has been largely supplanted by government. It used to be that the church would step up and help out the members of the church. Today government and family are largely the ones who bear that burden. Of course government doesn't discriminate (a church might only help Christians, for example).
  • Then there's the obvious moral code that comes with religions. Typically they set forth some decent moral codes that have the extra benefit of being enforced by an omnipotent being (as opposed to the State, which only puts you in jail if you're caught). God always knows if you've sinned so there's extra incentive to stay true to the moral code.
  • Another recent-ish fad is meditation and there's an increased emphasis on setting your intentions for the day, mindfulness, quiet reflection, etc. All these things were probably once fulfilled through daily prayer. Thinking about your day, your desires for the future, the desires of your loved ones, etc....all that is what prayer is/was.
  • All this is to say that religion isn't all bad. It'll never be for me, but it's probably good that it's for some people and hopefully they can improve upon it and retain its positive attributes and lose the tribal aspects, the power structures (in the case of the Catholic church in particular), and some of the other detrimental elements.
  • If you remember the debate about the confederate flag you'll remember that the nut jobs on the right claimed that the confederate flag wasn't about slavery - it was about culture. And that the civil war itself wasn't about slavery - it was about state sovereignty. This was derrided by all on the left. But recently I heard an interview on the Ezra Klein with race writer and leftist media darling Nikole Hannah-Jones who was talking about the 1619 project that she put together for the NYT, she claimed that the civil war wasn't about slavery - "the truth is this war was about power and representation and disproportionate power the south got, it ws about whether we were going to keep expanding slavery at the cost of free white labor into the west, about wanting the west to be free white man's country...and to some degree about the immorality of the system of slavery, but not, not really." Of course her spin on this was to point out how racist the country is. The North was also super racist and they weren't fighting the civil war because of slavery, because they didn't really care about it that much anyway (including Lincoln, according to her). This is the kind of nutty bullshit that you get from the extremes and it's why the "horse shoe" theory of the political spectrum exists. If you visualize a horse shoe the ends of the shoe are actually closer together than the middle is - and thus it is sometimes true with politics as well. If you go far enough to the right you get nuts saying the civil war was about states rights. If you go far enough left you get Nikole Hannah-Jones being unquestioned by Ezra Klein and getting the NYT to put out her 1619 project wherein she apparently claims that the civil war wasn't about slavery. Listen to the podcast with a critical ear. Plenty of interesting stuff in there.
  • Another thing she said, and this has been said plenty before, is that if the natural outcome of a thing is that it negatively affects black people then you don't need to prove that a person intended to be racist - if the end result is predictably going to affect blacks negatively then the person is racist. This is a compelling argument in some ways. It looks solely at results instead of relying on what people claim they intended. I like results oriented stuff in general so it appeals to me. The only trouble comes when you start applying this kind of logic evenly. This is always an interesting exercise and one that I think is somehow often forgotten. People apply logic to a particular case because it benefits their view and they don't look much past it. So, if a policy of perpetual war inevitably and predictably leads to the mass slaughter of young men, then obviously this policy is anti-man...right? This kind of policy can only come from a government that hates young men, especially lower class young white men. Just think about any policy that consistently cuts one way and I guess you have to figure that the people applying that policy are pro or anti whatever group it positively or negatively affects.



    9/17/19 (21:24)

  • Not a lot of bands that could do as something as rawkus and rock and roll as "From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah" while also pulling off a total classic unplugged album like "Unplugged in New York." Both are live albums and Nirvana had 4 years (3 albums from 1989-93) where they were probably the best rock band on the planet in part because they had the range of a legit punk album like From the Muddy Banks and a somber and pensive album like Unplugged in New York.
  • I've also recently been revisiting Alice in Chains. Couple good albums.
  • How many people a year die from medical accidents? 250k a year. It's the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. Homicide by gun is about 15k and flu is about 55k, just for some perspective.
  • It sure would be nice if the coverage of issues matched the actual level of the problem. Terrorism would barely get any coverage and we'd probably be more scared of sitting at our desks all day than school shootings. Doesn't exactly sell newspapers.
  • It's amazing how much Bill Maher and others talk about Fox News. They think it's an existential threat to the country. Fox has 2.4 million viewers. What's the big deal? Fact check them and move on. They're idiots and you're wasting your time worrying about it.
  • Interest rates in some Euro countries are now negative and have been for a while. This is just crazy to me. What this means is that they will charge you to save your money. So, what do you do? You either keep it under your mattress or invest it somewhere or spend it. They don't want money sitting in the banks anymore. Totally crazy. I remember growing up and being taught that you should save you rmoney for a rainy day. That paradigm has been completely overturned. Spend it while you have it. Leverage your house so you can spend even more. Spend money on a house and get bailed out. Spend money on your education and get bailed out. Don't save for retirement because the government will take care of you. Meanwhile, the government (under Modern Monetary Theory) basically doesn't care about deficits or debt anymore. We could be $100T in debt and it wouldn't matter to them. On the one hand I think this whole thing has to collapse at some point. On the other hand I think I should just join in and spend it while I have it and join the masses and hope the government will help me out if there's any kind of recession or collapse.
  • MMT allows the government to print money without regard to debt. It makes money and spends it however it wants and to whatever extent it wants. This only becomes a problem if inflation gets out of control. Since inflation seems to be fixed at 2% no matter what we do, this means that we can spend infinitely. I don't think it really makes sense, at the very least because I don't really believe the official inflation numbers. It's like the Groucho Marx line "who are you going to believe - me or your own eyes?" G says inflation is 2% (or close) and has been for a while. Yet everyone looks around and sees prices of big things like housing and healthcare increasing at a great rate.
  • Regardless of what you think about MMT, it looks like it's probably here to stay unless it proves to be incorrect (likely, imo). Republicans have proven that they don't actually care about deficits and Democrats have always wanted to spend money on their pet projects, so MMT will probably be a good excuse for both parties to spend on whatever they want.



    9/16/19 (21:11)

  • The Epstein thing is kinda interesting. Haven't done much research, but, just on its face, it looks really shady. The guy is accused of trafficking young women and has flown all sorts of celebrity types all over the world on his private jet. He gets busted and decides to kill himself. There's a serious incentive to a lot of powerful people for him to be permanently silenced, so it really does reek of a hit job.
  • Climate refugees are another example of global warming being used to sell another agenda.
  • Jane Coaston (who I find to be really annoying on a variety of topics) explicitly said that the best way to get action on global warming is to relate it to various other issues. This is exactly what I was talking about in my previous post, and what I naively missed 10 years ago. Global warming is a great way for people to shoehorn in a variety of agendas (agendum?).
  • Republicans really are holding the country back in so many ways. They don't even present a reasonable reaction or counterpoint to the Democrats. The Dems are so loopy on some issues that it would be nice to have some reasonable alternative, but there really isn't one. So, we get Bernie who just doesn't even care about math and he's one of the top 4 Dems in the presidential race. Even honest left-leaning pundits will tell you that Bernie basically is just all about writing the biggest possible checks for any pet cause the left comes across. Global warming? Let's do the most ambitious state-run thing possible. Healthcare? Let's get rid of the private sector altogether and pay for everyone to get everything. "College debt"?  Let's forgive it all.
  • The college debt issue is interesting as well. On the one hand it's an easy argument to say "hey you bailed out the banks, why can't you bail out lower and middle class college students who are being crushed by trillions in college debt?" On the other hand, it's kind of a middle finger to anyone who played by the rules, saved their money, went to a community college and then transferred to a good school to save money, worked while studying, etc. Ryan went to a community college, transferred to Cal after a couple years, and got a degree from Cal. This is way smarter than the way most people do it. People should do this a lot more if they want to save money, or aren't sure what they want to study, or can't get into the school they really want to go to, or probably lots of other reasons. But the people who do that are basically suckers under any bail out.
  • The other issue is that college debt isn't just tuition debt - it's the debt incurred while in college. I don't see a great reason why rent should be paid for by the taxpayers.
  • Lastly, much of the college debt issue is thanks to the government. Just look into the causes of this. The rollback of grants and scholarships in favor of loans. The exemption of college debt from bankruptcy. The subsidization of college tuition (which drove prices up). And probably a lot more. Of course the schools are to blame as well. Malcolm Gladwell has made this a pet cause of his...excessive spending on food, buildings, athletics, etc. They claims it's because they need to compete for students, but I'm not so sure.
  • On a local note, OUSD (oakland unified school district) has decided in their infinite wisdom to close even more schools. I don't remember the exact numbers, but they've lost like half their students in the last 10 years or so. It's basically a shit show. They've been under state receivership because they can't manage their money. An independent audit concluded that it was because of the gross mismanagement of the board that the district hasn't been able to balance its books. Now they have decided to close the elementary school that Zoe goes to. So, next year Zoe will have to find a new school. It's totally fucked.
  • This is a classic example of all that is wrong with government, and a good example of why I've grown less and less "liberal" (as in predisposed to wanting government to solve problems) over the last few years. I'd have to be insane to expect different results from the same inputs, right? OUSD has had chronic and deeply systemic problems for at least the last decade. I wish I kept some of my research on this, but you can do your own. Suffice it to say that enrollment has gone to shit, charter schools have increased a lot (but this isn't really the scapegoat that people make it to be), teacher retention is shit, and quality is in the shitter in all but a few schools at the elementary level and maybe one or two middle and high schools. They lose a lot of enrollment to private schools because parents can afford it and because the public options are such shit.
  • I've gone to a few of the board meetings and it shows they really don't have a grasp on common sense. They don't even understand the rationale for their own plans. Or they do and they're just feeding us lies in place of their actual rationale. Because the reasons they give don't add up to the decisions they make....and this isn't only an observation made by me.
  • There's a common refrain you will see if you follow the link above. That's the video where they start talking about closing Zoe's school. A good deal of the discussion revolves around demographics. This might be the most depressing part of the whole thing. So many people talk about black students, gay students, etc. Each side thinks they're helping black students by voting their way they're voting. It's amazing how much race and identity has become front and center in every political debate we have now. It really seems like we've gone so far backwards. To be clear, the question of whether or not to close a school is talked about like this: "This school is a mostly black school that doesn't get proper funding. This school is the 5th most diverse school in Oakland so you shouldn't close it. Why aren't you talking about closing this other school that's mostly white?"
  • Beyond the race stuff (check out Hodge talking around 5:14 into the linked video, for example), the board is just completely inept and untrustworthy. Jumoke Hinton Hodge was caught on tape choking a teacher and yet she's still on the board. President Eng lied a few times during the meeting - even about simple things like not being able to control the fans in the room or the length of a recess. The entire board and superintendent lied consistently throughout the process. Hinton Hodge is legitimately nuts.
  • What you miss in the video is after the vote (about 5:58 in) the crowd went nuts and started yelling at the board and basically losing their shit. It was interesting to observe. More race talk, more yelling, more anger. The whole thing was such a shit show. It's interesting because I think the President Eng knew where things were going and so she called the meeting into recess knowing that the cameras would go off at that point. It's interesting to see these tactics employed at the local level by women and men of color. There's not a single white man on the board and yet the same tactics you see from our presidents are being employed by the local school board. It's evidence to me that this isn't an issue of Trump or Bush or Republicans. It's an issue with people in power. Here we have women and people of color who are crafting a narrative, lying about their intentions, making up alternative facts, playing to the cameras, playing to the most base emotions, etc. I don't know how you can see a bunch of people who want more government in charge of the government and doing a shitty job and think this is the way to run anything. Republicans don't believe in government and basically want it to fail on the federal level. Democrats love government and suck at making it work at every level (other than a few basic low level things and writing checks).
  • The other thing I've noted is that the teachers, and their union, are really insistent that we all fall in line with them and are in solidarity with them. Understandable on some level, but it's really transparent that they want to control the narrative, the information, and the response to the closing. The way each entity seeks to control everything is super transparent to me, but I think I probably have an above average radar on this kind of thing since I've been following politics for so long.
  • The whole debacle was a really depressing exercise in local politics. Check back in 5 years and we'll see how things go. I'm guessing nothing will change.
  • Oakland needs some diversity of managing style because it's really gone off the reservation. Need a couple people in there who care about financial stability and aren't race-obsessed to help clean things up. This city's government is shit.

  • 9/4/19 (21:44)

  • heavy cannabis use has been linked to psychosis according to psychiatrists at UCB and Yale. this comes as no surprise to me. I remember being at Venice Beach when I was a teenager and the pro-pot crowd was out there all the time arguing for legalization and talking about how it's just a plant and all that. This seems to be a common argument. It's natural so it's fine. Then again so is dog shit and tobacco and opium, but not many people are interested in smoking those things. So there's that. Then there's the common sense approach that says all things in moderation. The studies are finding that heavy or consistent use is the problem. Though, if you listen to the podcast I linked, you'll find that the doctors would like more study on where the line should be drawn. Lastly, we have to take into account that today's pot just isn't "natural" in the usual sense of the word. It's been so modified and bred for potency that the majority of it doesn't resemble the pot that was growing in the wild 100 years ago.
  • Berkeley has voted to eliminate all natural gas in new buildings. This is a classic Berkeley move. Not a carrot approach of incentivizing electric only buildings or solar panels. Not requiring more stringent leak testing or any number of other ways of mitigating the effects of natural gas on the envirornment...just outright banning. They have a hammer so everything looks like a nail and they don't care about choice. As dumb a choice as this is for residential buildings, it's even worse for restaurants. Proponents will bring up induction cooking, which is nice enough in my experience, but it doesn't work on copper pans or aluminum cookware and I can't imagine it works well on a wok or other oddly shaped cookware. Berkeley is anti-Chinese restaurant it would appear. This kind of knee jerk closing off of options/freedom is something I hate more and more every year.
  • Cypress Mandela training center is a vocational training place in Oakland that supposedly takes young people and trains them for the trades. I'm looking to hire so I tried going to their website to look into getting someone from their program. They have a page that says "hire our graduates" and it talks about how they train people, but doesn't give any link for actually contacting them about hiring their grads. So, I went to the contact us part of the page and told them I'm interested in hiring someone for the building trades. Never heard back from them. I've done the same at Laney college carpentry program. I've done the same at Civic Corps. I've also had two cold calls (emails, actually) from people looking for work. In both cases I responded within an hour with follow up questions about the type of work they want and what their skills are. In every single case I've listed I haven't heard back from these people. What conclusion should a person reach after all this? That these training programs are serious about helping their students succeed at the next level? That people who apply for work are actually interested in working and finding a career?
  • These experiences are the kinds of experiences that harden a person. My general outlook is that we should give people a chance and that if you give people a chance they will seize the opportunity and make their lives better. It's a liberal inclination, I think; and it's a good one. However, when life experience teaches you otherwise you either have to bury your head in the sand or change your worldview. In my case my worldview has changed. Some people want opportunity and some people are willing to work hard when given the opportunity to better their lives. But the percentage of people who are willing to do that is a lot lower than I thought before, and a lot lower than I would like. It's also a lot lower than a society would need in order to sustain any kind of socialism or communism.
  • I really underestimated the power of an issue like global warming for people to argue for grabbing power in all sorts of ways. on 2/2/7 I wrote about a local radio station talking about global warming as a leftist plot to grab power and make money on solar panels or something. It seemed ridiculous at the time, but the power grab element is an actual possibility. Global warming is being used as a cudgel to attack all sorts of things and argue for even more. The green new deal comes with all sorts of race related elements. "Environmental racism" is a buzzy term that is being thrown around a lot lately. Global warming is a threat to the entire human race and so it carries with it a lot of weight with the people who agree that it could mean an apocalypse. I'm not saying that global warming is a hoax. I'm not saying that most of these responses to it are pure power grabs. However, it has surprised me quite a bit how much people can use it to argue for all sorts of things they want. And I definitely see the potential for it to be used to argue for some really radical things in the future....
  • For example, the Amazon is burning now and people are talking about how awful that is for the global environment. If there's a leftist version of Trump I could easily see them seizing on this moment to take some sovereignty away from Brazil since their inaction on the fire or deforestation in general, is a threat to us all. Of course in this case Europe would be in support of the president (instead of opposing them as they do Trump - which thankfully keeps him in check a bit) which would make it all the more powerful. There are just so many examples of how global warming can be used as justification for sweeping changes. I didn't believe it 12 years ago, but, if you keep your eyes open, you'll see how often the apocalyptic threat of global warming is invoked to argue for the curtailment of someone's freedom. It's the left-wing equivalent of terrorism under Bush.
  • "The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth."
  • There's a consistent theme amongst the liberal intelligencia and that is that whites lack culture. The Daily (NY Times) podcast had a story the other day about music on the campaign trail and they basically derided the music of Trump as just blaring Americana whereas everyone else has this really cultured and interesting music that embraced the struggle of being a woman or being a POC. I used to buy into this canard as well that white people don't really have culture. Salt Lake City would be a perfect example of a place that would get sneered at by the coastal elites as being devoid of culture. The truth is that white people have as much culture as everyone else. Same with Mormons. It may not be as interesting to you and you might not like parts of it as much, but it's really off-putting to say that a place like SLC or white people in general "lack culture." This is the kind of thing that a lot of smart media people just don't get and it's the kind of thing that slowly eats away at whites to the point where they feel under attack and it makes way for Trump.
  • Liberal elites only understand the rest of the country in as much as JD Vance has explained it to them. They all seem to have read his book and that's their only touchstone for understanding white rural culture. It would be like me reading Invisible Man and referring to black people only in terms of that single book. It's pathetic. There needs to be a lot more understanding going around or we're not going to get out of this shit.

  • 9/2/19 (21:39)

  • it would be interesting to see if the media is more likely to report on the race of a shooter if he (usually a man) is white or other. for example, the shooting at a high school football game in AL was by a black guy, but NPR didn't specify his race. but, on the same date, there was a story on the Odessa shooting and they specified the shooter as a white male. two stories within 3 hours of each other and the race is inconsistently mentioned or not. i don't think this is just and innocent inconsistency. i think the media is reluctant to mention the race of perpetrators nowadays. perhaps that's a welcome reprieve from the times when the news reported black crime more than white crime. that may actually still be the case in local news, but it definitely doesn't seem like it's the case in national news. i suspect there's also a difference between local TV and local newspapers, with the TV probably being more racist against blacks than newspapers. and national left of center outlets like NPR being the most unlikely to call out non-whites. just guesses based upon my observations, though. no data.
  • good read about how amazon patented taking pictures on a white background. gotta love our system.
  • now that the Mueller report attacks have proven to be fruitless (i.e., lacking traction with the average voter), the new anti-Trump narrative that has cropped up is calling him out on his trade war with China. i guess it's as good a strategy as any. it's funny how transparently the media attacks politicians on the same issues all at once. it's called pack journalism and it's alive and well in the mainstream press. what the elites don't understand about this is that the average American doesn't really care about prices of plastic shit going up in the abstract as a result of the tariffs. just like they don't care about the fact that they benefit in the abstract from low trade barriers that supposedly help the entire country. if joe bob loses his job to a Mexican factory worker he's just not all that interested in the fact that his neighbors are creating more jobs with the lower cost of goods as a result of NAFTA. average people care that China is pulling one over on us. even the Europeans know this and i think they are secretly happy with some of the hard nosed tactics Trump is employing. overall they definitely disagree with his tactics, but everyone pretty much acknowledges that China needs to be knocked down a peg or two. that's what the average Americans understand with regards to China and trade. beyond that it's a lot of elite talk about stuff they don't get or don't care about. China isn't dealing straight, they're being smarter and tougher, and we don't like it. as smart as the elites are, it's always funny to me that they don't understand the simplest of arguments.
  • all that isn't to say that i endorse the position of anyone involved, but i do understand the position the average American holds. i also understand that the Europeans are going to hurt more than we are because of this trade war. i also think it's time to play hardball instead of tip toeing around the tulips with China.
  • i'm calling "pimple popper MD" on firefighters. while i have a great deal of respect for the hard work they do, i also think they're overrated. the chicks all love them and society in general is all over their nut sack. most of the time they're polishing the chrome on the fire trucks, not saving lives. they make EMT calls and that's nice, but actual fire fighting is few and far between. when you take into account the fact that they're consistently among the highest paid city employees making in the mid-six figures in cities like Oakland, it really pushes them into the realm of the overrated. total compensation for a lot of these fire chief types is $400k+ which is just crazy when you consider that you could get 4 teachers for that price. just not worth it.

  • the latest example of the stupid Democrat party trying to socially engineer outcomes to stupid results is in the way they made the candidates get a minimum number of donations in order to be on the debate stage. each candidate needed to get at least 65,000 unique donors in order to appear on the second debate. in some cases, this meant spending as much as $35 through advertising to get a $1 donation. the idea was that they wanted the candidates to have broad support. the reality is that candidates have been wasting Democratic dollars on reaching this arbitrary threshold. it's the law of unintended consequences and it's a law that every technocrat and social engineer thinks they can think their way out of. they never can. this doesn't mean you shouldn't ever try to engineer things, but it does mean you should be very selective. "am i engineering something that is worth the inevitable and unforeseeable unintended consequences?" or is this just something i'm trying to do to make our party look like we care about the little people?

    8/31/19 (13:44)

  • been real busy lately.
  • we went on a vacation for the first time in a couple years so that was good. went to yellowstone with the girls and they had a blast. also went to grand tetons NP, jackson hole, boise ID, crater lake NP, craters of the moon NM, and plenty of stops along the way. it was about 50 hours of driving and we did it in 6 days. the girls really had a fun time so hopefully we can afford to do more road trips in the future while they're not jaded and over the whole family thing.
  • been working on the back deck lately, but it's been a long process. we're doing steel posts which makes it more complex. i think the trickiest part is over now that the posts are in and we set the beams yesterday. from here on out it's just basic stuff that i've done before.
  • i've really been neglecting the page and my movie reviews, but i always have it in the back of my mind so i'll make up for lost time here and there soon enough.

  • so far, Uber has been a wealth transfer from the rich VC funders to the workers and customers of Uber. it's funny because people don't understand this and even the NYT podcast recently got this exactly wrong. they claim that Uber has been great for the rich. sure, it's great for a few early investors who have made a ton of money on the high valuation, but, so far, Uber isn't actually making a profit. so, the money has flowed from the VC funders who have pumped in hundreds of millions of dollars into establishing the business to all the employees (drivers, coders, managers, etc.) and the people using the service are getting a service at below market value as well. the whole thing is a transfer of wealth from the super rich to the working class. so there's a hot take for you

    7/25/19 (21:31)

  • If you're reading this then you're not world famous, which means you're never going to reach as many people as a single fight compilation on worldstarhiphop.com. Just let that sink in. Your entire life's work probably won't touch as many people as a single video of poor people fighting.

  • 7/23/19 (21:49)

  • been working with a new guy lately so we have two employees now. he's really good and has been helping us knock things out. good to get stuff done.
  • Roger on Ask This Old House has been ailing lately and is phasing out. It's really sad for me because he's one of the guys I've looked up to for a long time. This Old House in general has been one of my favorites for almost 30 years and losing these guys is going to be sad. Seeing him move around more slowly is really sad for me.
  • A lot of people seem to be saying that a white man needs to run against Trump in order for the Dems to win. I'm not sure where the evidence is for this thinking. A white woman ran against him and got more votes...they just were unlucky in their distribution. Obama had more votes in 2008 and 2012 than both HRC and Trump. He also had more votes in the three infamous states (WI, MI, PA) that turned the election to Trump. So where's the evidence that a white guy is the only possible demographic to beat Trump? This is just one of those lazy talking points that people trot out when they don't know the numbers and listen to too many idiot pundits.
  • That said, you do want someone with some ability to win the midwest. The most obvious pick of the 24-ish candidates is Biden because of his ties to PA. The fact that he's a white guy is secondary to the fact that he's a moderate who can deliver a major swing state. The Dems need some combination of the rust/sun belt type swing states in order to win. FL, GA PA, MI, WI, AZ, OH...they need to get a few of those in order to win. Harris, Warren, Sanders don't deliver any of those states (traditionally thinking) either through their politics (moderate working class) or their geography (CA, MA, VT). This is a problem for the Dems and they need to fix it.
  • Personally I like Warren more than everyone else. Mayor Pete sounds good, but is too unproven. Since I don't care about electability Warren is at the top of my list right now and is looking like she'll be the first major party candidate I vote for in a presidential election.
  • A lot of people seem to be worried about electability and that's nothing new....it's part of the reason we continually get such shitty candidates. The Republicans, to their credit, finally gave up on that after putting out McCain and Romney who were moderates with a proven record of working with the other side. McCain is vilified by the far right wingers, he stood up for Obama when the crazies called him a Muslim, and we willing to take on his own party on campaign finance, etc. What was his reward for this? He lost to Obama. Romney was in charge of a blue state and gave them state provided healthcare. He lost as well. Finally the Republicans had enough of moderates and they went with a nut job. Maybe Democrats won't worry so much about electability at some point in the future.
  • The funny thing about electability is that it's your perception of what others will think about a person. It frankly doesn't make a lot of sense. I'm supposed to guess what everyone else thinks and they're thinking about what everyone else thinks and then we all make a choice based upon what we think everyone else is thinking?
  • One thing I've seen with identity politics reigning supreme lately is that the success of a program or concept is viewed through the lens of what group it benefits. So, if you have a policy that disproportionately helps a privileged class then the policy is derided by the right thinking intelligentsia. So, let's say we come up with a policy that costs $10 billion a year and eliminates all homicide. At first most people will view that as a good thing, but then the nay sayers come in and point out that 78% of homicide victims are men so it's kinda unfair that all these men are getting the benefits of this policy. Shouldn't we spend that $10 billion on something that is more equitable? Men are given every opportunity in this country, surely there is a way that $10 billion could be spent to help groups that need it more.
  • Tax policy is an area in which I think liberals have really won the language war. I've seen countless pieces and documentaries talking about Frank Luntz and the Republican mastery of language. But on tax policy I think Dems have done a better job. Instead of a tax cut being in the public mind as allowing people and companies to keep their own money a tax cut is viewed as a government hand out to the rich people and companies who benefit from these tax cuts. Two things: 1) I agree that most tax cuts do go to those with the money to lobby for them and I agree that this shouldn't be the case. 2) A tax cut isn't the government giving you money (unless you're really poor, in which case you might actually be paying negative federal income taxes). A tax cut is you being allowed to keep more of the money that is yours. It's very interesting to me how the media talks about this issue and that it's rarely pointed out that this money isn't the government's - it's ours. A tax cut is just us giving less of it to the government in the first place.

  • 7/2/19 (20:27)

  • I used think being an ideologue was one of the worst things you could be in politics. Ideologues are uncompromising and it's the reason politics are so divided, etc. However, I think it may be even worse to have what we currently have in political leadership - partisanship. A lot of people put party above all else these days. I've been listening to "Pod Save America" lately (which is one of the most popular political podcasts out there) and these guys are so in the tank for the Democrats, and so blinded by their party affiliation, that it's really worrisome how popular the show is. Like most popular Democrats they're smart people who are on the "right side" (as dictated by the intelligentsia) of things, but they're also prone to being very petty and pompous. Perhaps it's simply a lack of maturity and I'm reading too much into it, but it seems like they are so blinded by their partisanship that they're incapable of viewing Republicans as anything other than worthy of mockery or revilement. Once you go down that road I think you're in a really troubling place. Of course this isn't the sole parlance of this podcast or people on the Democratic side....it's widespread now. Although, polling does suggest that Democrats are actually worse about this than Republicans are. I forget the exact dates/percentages, but this is pretty close...in 1960 something like 5% of Democrats and 5% of Republicans would have had a problem if their kid wanted to marry someone of the opposite party. Today those numbers are 55% for Democrats and 35% for Republicans. So much for Democrats being the accepting ones. Regardless, the numbers are so much worse than they used to be and that's a real issue.
  • It's also been shown that it doesn't matter what the party says, the followers will adopt the position. So, views of the FBI have flip flopped back and forth a couple times with both parties based upon what they were investigating and finding (or not) at the time. There are many examples of this, though...free trade is something that has flipped around within the parties, so has mandatory healthcare, etc.
  • So, people aren't driven by ideas or policy or conscience. They are driven by whatever the party and its leaders say. Most people are just sheep easily swayed by whatever influencers they trust are saying at the time.
  • It's also fun to see people complain about all the same things at the same time. A story comes out in the Atlantic about gerrymandering (just a random example - it could be the overton window or redlining or the Mercer family or media consolidation) and all of a sudden it filters through the liberal media and gerrymandering is the big issue of the day. Same goes for people on the right. You can tell a person's political beliefs just by what they're talking about that week. And they talk about whatever they're told to talk about and they believe whatever they're told to believe. Hardly ever do people look back 6 months, much less 6 years, to examine how important/true those issues of the day really were/are. This is why I like the concept of the Revisionist History podcast, even if it falls flat more often these days. We need to revisit what people were saying 5 years ago to see if we can trust them, or if they're just rehashing conventional wisdom or the party line of the day. Almost all pundits are essentially worthless pantomimes who are paid to echo whatever the thought leaders are peddling that week.
  • It's rare that you find really thoughtful people who are honest and who are able to take the long view on today's issues. Most people have about a 3-6 month memory at best and aren't bringing much knowledge to the problems of today. I think the real geniuses are able to bring forth more of what they've learned into a single issue. Most people only bring in a few things they've recently learned or just react on a gut level to things. So, the average pundit thinks about an issue through 1-2 different worldview lenses and is probably overwhelmed by their party identification. The above average pundit has 1 or 2 worldviews they can draw on which may be somewhat novel or a hybrid of typical worldviews. The really smart ones are able to synthesize many different worldviews and then subsume, counteract, or at least acknowledge their party ID and cognitive biases, and come up with some truly thoughtful things to say about a topic.
  • Also on Pod Save America they said that Trump kissed Kim Jung Un's ass by going to North Korea. First president to go to NK and they gave him a hard time about it. The Daily podcast (NY Times) spun it as bad news as well. His going to NK is actually just an excuse for Iran to ramp up their nuclear program so they get the goodies like NK does. This is where the media really let's their bias and partisanship get in the way. I can say without reservation that if Obama had gone to NK the narrative on Pod Save America and the Daily would be "game changing peace talks" "Obama earns Nobel Peace Prize with historic visit to NK." And on Fox "News" it would be "Obama Visits NK for One Whole Minute and Liberal Media Thinks he's God." There's so much infuriating hypocrisy that is exposed by this one moment. Remember when Fox News addressed Obama being willing to talk to the leader of Iran "without preconditions?" It was a huge deal for them that Obama said he would open up talks to Iran. Now, though, Trump goes to NK and they think he's great for it.
  • Both sides don't care about facts or ideology or right vs. wrong. They care about party above all. The truth is that Trump going there is a big deal. It was also a one minute visit and they still (probably) have nukes, so he hasn't solved the underlying problems. But this is what happens when you instinctively punch the ticket for one party or another - you become part of the team. And when you're part of the team then you shut off your brain. Pod Save America, The Daily, Fox News, they're all just two sides of the same coin that needs to be discarded. Sure, Pod Save America and The Daily are most likely more factually correct than Fox News is overall. They're on the right side of history more often. Those are good things. But those aren't the only things.
  • "Fact Matter" isn't just a bumper sticker. Facts matter regardless of your feelings and regardless of them being inconvenient to your cause. Sometimes the facts are that an awful president does a good thing, and it's okay to call it a good thing. It doesn't mean he should be re-elected...it just means that he's done a good thing.
  • There was a big push by NPR for the Embedded podcast. This season was all about Mitch McConnell. It's basically an in-depth look at how he became the Senate majority leader, how he came up in the Senate, how he's gone 9-0 in his career, etc. Throughout the series they basically talk about how ruthless he is and how much he's changed the norms in the Senate and been willing to do things for the party that are beyond the pale. In part 5 they interview him and he talks about all the times he broke the norms and he talks about how the Democrats were actually the first ones to break the norms in each case. The series is over 2 hours long and we finally hear from the subject of the whole thing and he makes a claim that overturns a lot of what NPR has said (that he's a career rule breaker for the party) and here he has a narrative that says he's only "broken the rules" after the Democrats did it first. It would be a perfect opportunity for a fact check. The reporter could come in here and say "Actually, McConnell was the first to apply the nuclear option in the Senate, though Harry Reid talked about it 2 years earlier when the Democrats were in power." (I'm just making that up). Instead they just let it stand as a he said she said. It was a major failure and I'm left thinking that he must have been right when he said that Reid, Schumer, and Biden overturned the norms first. If he was wrong, I have to assume that NPR would have done a fact check on that. Instead they just let him tell his side of the story while playing a little jaunty tune underneath as if to undermine his story. Check it out. 6:30 into the episode. Pathetic reporting IMO.
  • A stopped clock being right twice a day is actually the second best possible outcome (in terms of number of times it could be right). The first best is that it's a running clock that is set correctly. The second best is that it's a stopped clock and it happens to be right twice a day. The worst possible is a running clock that is set incorrectly, in which case it's always wrong. Now, if it's your clock then you could know how off it is and do the math to get the right time, in which case that's better than a stopped clock. But if it's a running clock in a public area, or one that isn't familiar to you, then a running clock that is wrong is actually worse than a stopped clock. It's never right and you don't know that it's not right. The second hand is moving so it's clearly working, and yet it's wrong. This is actually the worst possible outcome. There's a metaphor in there somewhere as well.

  • Most people in LA seem to be immigrants to the city. They want to make something of their lives in the big city. Many of them are wannabe actors or whatever, but a lot of people are just normal people who are immigrants to a new city. As a result I always found it to be fairly inclusive to newcomers. The Bay Area is quite different. There are a lot of people here who have been here a long time and, especially now, there are a lot of people who don't want new people coming here. Anti-gentrification is part of this, but there's very much a new vs. native strain that runs through this area. You need to be authentically bay area to have earned your cred. New comers are frowned upon in SF and Oakland...maybe less so in SJ or North Bay...not sure. As a result there's a lot signaling around being OF this place. Using the local lingo is more important here than in LA. You can't refer to THE 80 freeway. You get points for saying something is HELLA cool. You're not allowed to say "Frisco" (even though I've heard SF based rappers say it before)...this is actually a rule that dates back to the early days of SF when Emperor Norton enforced the rule. "Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word "Frisco," which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of twenty-five dollars." Rafael Casal makes the distinction between living in the bay and being OF the bay in his twitter discussion on bay area movies. There's just so much of this kind of gatekeeping and anti-immigrant stuff that you get in the Bay Area. It's a funny contradiction, but there seems to be a long legacy of gatekeeping here.
     6/17/19 (21:13)
  • trying to keep things on track lately, but there's probably just too much going on. raising kids is tough. renovating big houses is tough. running a business with employees is tough. everything together is just a lot. we never go on vacation. we don't have that much money. life is difficult and i think that people tend to make it more difficult for themselves. it's like we're always spinning our wheels and as we get better at biking we're just going up steeper and steeper hills to match the speed at which we're used to spinning our wheels.
  • the weeds is a podcast that I listen to all the time, but often don't like that much. On the anti-trust episode recently, they talked about how they think you should err on the side of over-enforcement of anti-trust law and made the analogy that it's like erring on the side of making sure your 4 year old doesn't fall. WTF? i think they're wrong on both accounts. With regards to the 4 year old issue...when they're 4 they don't fall as far, their bones are softer, and you need to let them learn what they can do while they're young so they don't make big mistakes when the stakes are higher later in life. So, it's a flawed analogy let's say. With regards to the big company and over-enforcing anti-trust on them...it shows their fundamental posture towards the government and big business. Big business is probably bad and government is probably good. In its simplest form, that's what they're saying here. Also, I think you should reserve the right to lay the smack down on a monopoly and it's better to see how things play out. Over-enforcement leads to smacking down on myspace.com.
  • All that said, my general posture is toward difusion of power. Having 3-4 major cell phone carriers isn't good for competition or the consumer and I think that needs intervention, or at least they need to ensure that mergers don't go forward.
  • SF has a major entitlement culture. People will somewhat regularly walk by a job site and open an ajar door to look inside. I mean, if the door is open and you stop to look inside that's one thing. To actively open the door or walk inside is quite another. People also think it's their place to comment on color choices, etc. Interesting place.
  • Before the midterm elections there was a lot of coverage on the migrant caravan. After the midterms I saw some coverage remarking that the caravan wasn't being talked about and that it was just a Trump red herring used to distract voters before the election. Then a few months passed and the media started talking about large numbers of migrants crossing the borders being detained, etc. It's really odd, as a casual observer of the news, to see this ebb and flow. It's a seemingly big issue one month. The next month they say it was only a big issue because Trump faked the narrative. Then it's a big issue again, but now because it's a humanitarian crisis. Again, I don't follow the news like I did before Trump because I've found the Trump show to be too much for me. The 24 hour news cycle is maddening and I think they're doing an awful job any time I look into it. But really appears as though they're talking out of both sides of their mouth on this stuff.
  • The Mexico tariff stuff is another example of the media not doing its job, but in a different way this time. You have to report on what the president is talking about, but you don't have to make it front page news and you don't have to run a scroll on the bottom of the screen about it every 20 seconds. There are plenty of stories out there if you're willing to work to find them and do some real reporting. Instead they grasp at the shiny object that provides an easy narrative. It's pathetic.
  • According to at least one reliable source the per capita GDP of Alabama is higher than that of the UK. I tried to corroborate this stat and it looks as thought they're very close. Note that this is different from per capita income.
  • average teacher in CA makes $79k/year, but every teacher I've talked to makes far less. Oakland teachers I think pretty much all make less than that unless they have a couple decades under their belt. Which teachers are making all this money?
  • TX has 15 students per teacher and CA has 22. TX is actually doing a lot right in education and we're way worse off than they are. WTF are we doing? CA education is a damn joke.
  • Jussie Smollett is the actor who claimed he had a hate crime committed against him. It's a pathetic story, but the worst part is that there were 24 detectives investigating the crime. Why are 24 detectives on a single case? Because it's a hate crime? Because he's a celebrity? Unless you're a public official or there's an act of terrorism, I don't think there should be 24 detectives investigating shit.
  • I have strong doubts about the official inflation numbers. They have been running about 2% for several years now, but I think it's safe to say that most people don't experience that in their lives. What are the 3 biggest expenses in life? Healthcare, housing, education. Those are the 3 things that people will spend six figures on throughout their lives. Those are 3 of the highest inflation sectors in our economy and account for easily over 50% of the average family's spending, and yet the government tries to claim that inflation is at 2%. I'm not in the weeds enough to know what percentage they assign to each of these expenditures when calculating inflation, but it just doesn't pass the sniff test.

  • 6/14/19 (20:26)

  • the average Democrat seems to want it both ways: they want high standards for workplace safety, workers' rights, protective employment laws, high barriers of entry in the forms of licensing, loads of requirements like sexual harassment training, etc. All these requirements that pile up are great for the HR sector and for big businesses that can afford the overhead required to implement all these various government mandates (regulations). At the same time the average Democrat has an innate dislike of big business and corporations. The regulatory burden is so onerous that only businesses of a certain size can actually succeed...especially in certain sectors or states.
  • i wonder sometimes if i'd be doing what i'm doing if i knew what was required. I started as a handyman and it seemed as though the regulatory burden was fairly low. There are a lot of limitations on what you can do, but the barrier for entry wasn't great. Then I moved up to a GC and I took on an employee and took on larger projects and subcontractors and all the rest. The level of overhead involved with all that just gets to be too much. Creating an IIPP, workers' comp, tool insurance, GL insurance, LLC fees, LLC bond, surety bond, renewing everything on difference schedules, licensing fees to the state and every city you do work in, biweekly mandatory safety meetings, hazardous materials training and requirements, requirements for where to take construction debris, subcontractor requirements (the newest one is that if a subcontractor doesn't pay their employees I can be held accountable). Let's just dwell on that last one a bit....Let's say I hire a plumber to do a job for a remodel and then I pay him for doing his job. After the job is complete I get paid by the customer. A month later I find out that the plumber didn't pay his helper. Now I'm on the hook for his helper not getting paid. This is the kind of thing Republicans are right about. Unfortunately they're so wacky in so many other ways, that their valid points get buried by climate change denial and "legitimate rape" comments.
  • government (G) has waged war on drugs and instead of the cost of drugs going up, drugs cost less and are more potent. G tried to lower the cost of healthcare with the ACA, medicare, HMO act of 1973, and probably a million other things...cost of healthcare has risen drastically. G tried to make college more affordable through grants and scholarships...college costs more than ever. G isn't very good at getting the cost of anything to be lower so I'm forever skeptical of anyone who says the government can lower costs on X, Y and Z with "one simple trick." Anyone saying that is probably just as disingenuous as those ads.

  • We're bound by various treaties to defend at least 60 countries (heard on NPR podcast, I believe). It's no wonder we have the world's largest military. We're basically the military for the world and places like Germany and Japan love it because it means they can farm out their national defense and focus on other things. What's even better for these 60 countries is they can say they're spending their money on things other than a huge military and they can point to us as the big bad guys wasting all their money on the military. Trump is kinda on the right track when he talks about the lack of fairness in these arrangements. I'd love to see us get out of these arrangements and let those 60+ countries worry about their own defense. I think it's actually a lose-lose. Most (or all?) of them are required to defend us as well...it's a mutual defense treaty...but we all know how that's going to go. We also theoretically benefit by having use of their territories for our military. But what we get back beyond that is pretty weak. It's stuff like trade and intelligence sharing, which we would probably get anyway. Meanwhile we pump too much money into the military at the expense of other jobs/technology programs that would be better focused.
  • Military spending is basically home grown jobs/technology spending, which is why I've grown less concerned about it over time...at least it's money that's mostly staying at home and the trickle down of technology is real and significant. That said, I really don't like being the world cops anymore. Everyone hates us for it (until we save their asses in the middle of the ocean or whatever) and I don't think the juice is worth the squeeze at this point.
  • It's surprising how well regarded Truman is as a president. Look into his decision to "seize (steel) production facilities, while he kept the current operating management of the companies in place to run the plants under federal direction."
  • Academics are largely responsible for hatching up all these great wars and ill-conceived policies. They also put on a pedestal people like Truman and eugenicists like Margaret Sanger, DuBois, Brandeis, etc. Odd that those three would be Eugenicists since they're a woman, black man, and Jew. I've written about buck v. bell before, I think, but it bears repeating that this is a pretty awful case and it's never been formally overturned. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was also in concurrence on that one.
  • Warriors lost in 6. During game 4 I predicted that the Raptors would win in 6. Warriors are good on the road and bad at home. They won game 5 in Toronto and lost game 6 at home. Of course it helped that they lost KD and Klay. It's amazing that they had such shitty luck with injuries this post season. Should be interesting to see if they can reload next year. Smart money seems to be on KD leaving, but no one knows. Curry is a great player and teammate, but he's not the go to guy like Bird, MJ, Lebron. He's not a clutch shooter and he's not a guy who wants the ball in the last possession of the game.
  • Radiolab has jumped the shark the last few years. It used to be a science program, but now it's a politics podcast with some science overlaid atop. I still check out some of the episodes, but with 80 podcasts on my list, I have to discriminate more. They recently have been doing a series on general intelligence and IQ. The thing that fascinates me about the IQ debate is that here's the typical line you'll get from "right thinking" people who seem to bug me so much lately: 1) IQ is culturally slanted and not indicative of anything of substance. 2) IQ decreases as lead exposure increases...or other such claims about the effects of other factors on IQ. You can't say that IQ doesn't reveal anything in one breath and then say that IQ being affected by this or that means something in the next breath. Either IQ means something or it doesn't. Pick one and then live with the outcome.
  • There's a somewhat similar thing going on in the queer community right now. Some people say that being a woman doesn't inherently bring with it any traits. Others say that it does. This is biological essentialism....basically that biology brings with it some essential things (in the aggregate at the very least). So, what seems to be happening lately is that some people will say being a woman doesn't mean that you're biologically more likely to be compassionate or "feminine" or nurturing or whatever. Trans people will say I was born a man, but I feel more compassionate and feminine and whatnot so this means I'm actually a woman. The feminist and the trans community are hashing this out and the extremes seem really nuts to me. Either way, you gotta pick one. Either it means something to be a man/woman or it doesn't. If it doesn't then being a gender fluid person who feels like a woman on Monday and a man on Tuesday doesn't make a lot of sense. Body dysmorphia (I hate my penis) is another ball of wax.
  • Personally, I fall pretty strongly in the biological essentialism camp. I think there are, ON AVERAGE, very real differences between the sexes and that ignoring them is idiotic. Other people disagree and I guess they're saying to me the old groucho marx line: "who do you believe - me, or your own eyes?" 40 years of experience in the world has shown me that men and women tend to be different in so many ways that it's a joke to ignore it. Of course, we're also more alike than not and none of these differences should be anything more than fodder for humor.
  • One defense of Trump being an all-time douche bag is that there were plenty of world leaders (Churchill being a famous one) who were big time douche bags. Being a douche doesn't disqualify you from being a good leader. It usually isn't one thing that disqualifies a person...despite what pundits will say for headlines.
  • Clothing contributes 8% of total global warming.

  • 7/30/19 (19:51)
  • the presidential election is such a farce. if we wanted to select for the characteristics required to do a good job in the office then our election process would be quite different. it's like having a marathon determine the winner of the super bowl...or maybe even worse...the spelling bee.
  • I was playing Point of no Return on the stereo while the girls were painting and Zoe immediately said "can you turn this song off because it already said fuck?" I just laughed. Then another F bomb came and went and Merritt said " Daddy, it said fuck again." I reluctantly changed the song after that and Merritt said "hopefully this song doesn't say fuck."
  • This is funny of course, but it's also exactly how we should treat off limits words. They aren't a contagious disease. They shouldn't be used lightly or abused either. But it's perfectly appropriate (in my mind) to use the words if you are referencing them.

  • 5/30/19 (22:00)

  • people who don't get vaccinated probably are being dumb overall. however, this so-called measles outbreak has affected 700 people so far. the mortality rate of measles is very low so it really doesn't seem like that big a deal in the grand scheme. nobody has died. and most of these people are in NYC. why the big story? because the media sucks once again.



    4/19/19 (22:36)

  • there are two ways of paying workers. one is cash. this is what you do for the teenager on the block who helps you with stuff or a home depot laborer you pick up to help around the house. the other is to pay for a payroll service, pay unemployment, disability, and payroll taxes along with workers' comp. if you pay a person $100 in scenario #1 you pay $100 and they receive $100. in scenario two they do $100 worth of work and get paid about $80 and you pay $150. there's a $70 swing there that is really tough to swallow and so you get a lot of people who go with route #1. employer needs to pay 50% more to be legitimate and cover all their bases. employee loses 20% and may not even get the job in the first place because maybe they're worth $100 to the employer, but maybe they're not worth the $150.
  • the caveat to all this is that different industries won't have high workers' comp prices so they could probably save 10% on the numbers above right there. it also depends upon the wages. but for carpenters those numbers are pretty accurate.

  • 4/18/19 (20:25)

  • the war on drugs has been waged by the government to raise the price of drugs and decrease drug abuse. the cost of drugs has decreased and drug use remains relatively constant. 50% of all healthcare spending comes from the government and prices have only increased. the government gives loans and grants to students to expand college education and education costs are out of control. it sure seems as though the government doesn't have a clue about how to keep costs down. maybe the government should wage war on education and healthcare so the cartels can take over and get the prices lower.
  • mueller report was basically released today and there's a lot of talk about it from the usual pundits. it's interesting to hear what different people say about it. my take is that it's very similar to the investigation into Hillary's emails. Comey concluded that she did a lot of dumb and bad stuff, but that she didn't know what she was doing and, since he couldn't prove intent, she wasn't criminally liable. a lot of that applies to Trump as well. Mueller says that there's a lot of shady shit going on, that he worked in parallel with the Russians and that Trump Jr. even maybe crossed a line, but that Mueller couldn't prove that Trump Jr. understood what he was doing was a potential plot to collude or a violation of campaign finance.
  • some are calling for impeachment because there's dirt in the investigation, but ultimately none of this is going to stick. there's nothing here that is obvious and clear and easily understandable for the average voter. 2 years worth of media build up and Democrats hoping has lead to a massive disappointment for those people. if the Dems are smart they'll move on and try out something else. Barr's summary, while certainly tilted towards Trump, is basically correct - Mueller couldn't find enough to nail down Trump in any meaningful legal way so he's effectively been exonerated. any of the pundits who claim otherwise are grasping at straws and looking beyond the law. they're frankly hoping for political fallout since the legal fallout will never come (based upon what we know so far, that is).
  • this could be a massive problem for the Democrats since they put so much into the Russia, collusion, obstruction stuff. the fact that it's fizzled is a major issue. some of them will double down and try to make the case, but i really don't see it sticking with the average voter.
  • here's how the average voter probably sees it: "Trump is a dick. Trump was accused of doing stuff with Russia. there was a big investigation and Trump is still president and nothing happened. Democrats hate Trump, but I don't see the big deal...they investigated him for years and nothing happened."
  • remember the last time there was a huge investigation that didn't yield all that much that was legally actionable against the president? I remember Clinton's poll numbers doing pretty well afterwards. different allegations, but i think the effect of weathering attacks could be the same.

  • 4/17/19 (20:59)

  • the ivy league scandal is interesting. a bunch of rich people and celebrities paid to get better grades, test scores, etc. for their kids so they could get into good schools. the thing we don't like about this isn't the uneven playing field. we don't care about the cheating. what people actually care about is when rich people do the cheating. they don't like it when the playing field is shifted in favor of the rich. there's a concept in comedy and journalism about "punching up" vs. "punching down." basically, you're allowed to write an expose or make fun of rich people, politicians, people in power, but you can't do that to people who are below you. it's okay to punch up, but it's never okay to punch down. it's the same thing here...if you found out that some people in the ghetto cheated on their SATs and got into a better school than they deserved people wouldn't really care. the FBI wouldn't be involved. the media would report on it for a day on page 4 and you'd never hear about it again.
  • there's been a lot of talk since trump about "norms." specifically the Dems complain about Trump overturning norms and changing the way things have been done in the past. this is interesting for a couple reasons. 1. everyone pretty much agrees that their is dysfunction in politics today so maybe there needs to be some changing of norms. 2. Dems don't care about norms anymore than Republicans do. both sides care about norms like they care about the debt - selectively, as it suits them. Dems say, for example, that we should pack the courts. There's no law that says the supreme court should always have 9 justices, but it's a long-standing norm. they don't care because they want their agenda to do well so you have a few major nominees suggesting court packing schemes of different kinds.
  • here's a (michael lewis) podcast that touches on the Cambridge Analytica issue a bit. basically the media mis-reported the story (i've touched on this before) because they wanted it to be about how CA gave Trump the election. they ignored the fact that Cruz also hired CA and that didn't seem to work out so well for him. there's also a lot of talk in the russia/CA discussion about voter suppression, but 2016 had the 3rd highest voter turnout in the last 50 years - despite having two of the worst candidates in a long time. in other words, president Cruz was elected because Cambridge Analytica and Russia did a great job of suppressing the vote to all-time lows.
  • the mainstream media has a bad habit of looking about 3" in front of its face at all times. it's all about the scandal of the moment and they never look backwards. thankfully there are some good stories on the fringes that look back a bit, or take a longer view of things and actually analyze things like the CA story or the toyota gas pedal recall non story. we can't have good reporting if the news cycle gets dumped upside down every 1-3 days.
  • there's also been a lot of talk about treason with Trump in office. perhaps it's pedantic, but it's not treason to collude with Russia. I don't even think it's illegal. but, worst case scenarios, let's say that Trump and Russia worked together to suppress the vote through facebook or online or that they shared a dossier on Hillary or something. it's still not treason because, at the very least, treason only exists when you're talking about an enemy of the country. Russia is an ally so there's no treason.
  • remember when Romney said Russia was the biggest international threat to the US and he was laughed at? might be a good time to look back on that now that Democrats hate Russia again.
  • Remember when Republicans were the ones who hated Russia? Remember when Republicans though the FBI was great and the Democrats were wary of it?
  • what's happening here is that people choose party over country and party over ideology and party over ideas. people are more married to their affiliation with D or R than they are with any actual ideas. so, they very easily drift around as the party rallies behind one idea or another. Remember when Democrats thought handing out money to big health insurance companies (in the form of an individual mandate) was a bad thing? When Romney did it and called it a market solution, it was bad. When Obama did it, it was a good first step. When Trump had it repealed it was armageddon and would lead to a death spiral (it hasn't). I don't understand how these people don't get whiplash from their flip-flopping.
  • meanwhile, i've always thought the individual mandate was bad and that both parties are shit. at least i should get some points for consistency while about 80% of the country floats along with their party, whatever it may believe in today.
  • just a reminder that 60% of our budget goes to: social security and medicare/medicaid. 20% more goes to military and debt interest payments.
  • medicare for all is a topic of debate right now. it's costs about 15% of our federal budget (about as much as the military) and serves 15% of the nation. 15% of our budget to give medicare to 15% of our population... doesn't seem like something i'm that keen on expanding. of course, it's serving some of the most expensive people and there's a certain amount of overhead, but...
  • 18% of our GDP goes towards healthcare. something needs to change with all this, but i don't think the government is helping much. a lot of people say we should just have the government handle healthcare. i don't think a lot of people realize how involved the government is already in healthcare. government pays for about half of all healthcare spending already and yet some think it's not very involved.
  • on average, households that make less than $12k a year spent 5% of their income on the lottery. this is the kind of statistic that really kills me. when you're poor you need to be better than the middle and upper class. you can't make mistakes like them. if you get a DUI you're more screwed. you can't pay for legal help, you can't pay court fees, you can't easily get rides to/from work, etc. same goes for getting a ticket or falling down the stairs or getting robbed or anything else that may happen to you or as a result of your bad decisions. life is hard, but when you're poor and you're flushing 5% of your money down the toilet it's really hard to feel bad for you. "but but but, they are desperate and they're playing the lottery out of shear desperation." you have to be smart in this world. the lottery is the opposite of smart. if you're over the age of 20 and you're playing the lottery while poor then you're not being smart.
  • “Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one's first feeling, 'Thank God, even they aren't quite so bad as that,' or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything -- God and our friends and ourselves included -- as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.” - CS Lewis
  • how is it that Saira Rao is a mainstream politician who doesn't get constant blowback for her blatantly racist worldview? it's a clear double standard. punching up vs. punching down, i suppose. here's where Trump et al. have a point, though, the media is in the bag for Democrats so people like sarah jeong and saira rao get a total pass. the same kind of stuff coming from a congressman out of the republican party would be vilified immediately. it really sucks that the media gives Trump these easy wins. give his followers enough ammo and they think that he's right about much more than he is. it's a lose-lose for everyone involved.
  • in case you care about global warming: the top 15 shipping vessels in the world put out as much greenhouse gases as all the cars in the world.
  • last year cryptocurrency mining used as much energy as the entire world's renewable energy sector put out.

  • 4/4/19 (22:06)

  • lots going on lately, should update more often. been a very tumultuous few months. caught up in a lawsuit, had $10k worth of tools stolen, employee got arrested, employee had nervous breakdown, other employee attempted suicide, zoe's school might be closing down, etc. a couple weeks ago i was down to just myself again. now i've got three guys working for me. things go up and down i guess.
  • mueller report not being released is very odd. that said, the new AG's summary of it doesn't make it look like that big a deal. in fact, it makes it look like the media really was engaging in some fake news propaganda. unfortunately, we can't really say because we're only getting a summary and a few quotes of the report, instead of the whole thing. i'm not sure how that's at all kosher. at the same time, it really looks like the left overshot things on this one. people calling trump a russian spy and all the rest. then they said that the interim AG (whitaker) was a trump stooge and keeping him around at all was grounds for impeachment. then barr was appointed in 3 months (which didn't filter to my news much at all) and that storyline disappeared.
  • it's really interesting not being totally invested in the news. i heard lots of speculation and talk about whitaker and how much of a bad guy he was and how much of a trump stooge he was and how he thought the mueller report was a witch hunt and so keeping whitaker in place was going to be armageddon. but then he gets replaced by the permanent AG (Barr's second term - his first was under HW Bush) and that news was basically not in my feed at all. what does that say about the news i consume? what does that say about the larger media? my experience is that the outrage and coverage of whitaker was at a level 6 and the coverage of barr's appointment was at a 1.
  • the trend i perceive in the news coverage surrounding trump is that anything that could be construed as bad or scandalous (whitaker, mueller report, etc.) is generally getting a high level of treatment - more stories, more intense coverage, etc. anything that could be construed as bipartisan or favorable (appointing barr instead of keeping whitaker, bump stock ban, criminal justice reform (first step act), etc.) gets a low level or perfunctory level of treatment.
  • i don't like trump or the vast majority of what he does, but the media is clearly in the bag for the democrats since 2016 and it's going to bite them (and us) in the ass if they don't get it together.

  • also, why is biden even considering running (again)? and why is anyone surprised that he's getting push back on the touchy feely stuff now? we knew this was coming. youtube has had compilations of him being a creep for years now. #metoo killed any chance he ever had of being president. if the democrats nominate him then they may as well commit political suicide (not unusual for the dems). biden as the nominee would be a great gift to trump. if he has an ounce of intelligence and doesn't have a ridiculous ego, then he'll bow out and say thanks but no thanks. go away quietly, joe, and don't tarnish your legacy anymore.

    3/14/19 (21:29)

  • fucking cops having nothing better to do...

  • 3/05/19 (20:05)

  • a good use of government time and resources would be in developing more stringent driving tests. it's a nearly universal theme that no one thinks anyone in their city knows how to drive. let's all get on the same page about pulling all the way over to the right when making a right turn, for example.
  • i notice a lot lately the disconnect between responsibility and freedom. people want cool stuff and freedom and benefits. they don't want blame for anything that doesn't go their way. they don't want to have to do anything for the things they ask for. they consider many of these things "rights" because we live in a rich society so that society should just provide these things for them. unfortunately in these discussion i never hear about the cost of freedom, benefits, or rights. it's a trite bumper sticker saying that "freedom isn't free," but there's truth there. and i don't mean that we need to send young people to iraq to secure our freedom. but there is a cost to these things and sometimes that cost is that you, as an individual, need to take on some responsibility to hold up your end of the bargain.
  • i like the ezra klein podcast a lot, but he's been out lately and had some guest hosts in his place. there was a global warming episode recently and amongst the doom and gloom was the projection that global warming will cost the world economy $600 trillion. that's not a typo. according to the guest that's twice the current global wealth. this is really scary and really fake. i mean, how does one honestly contend that we're going to lose more than twice what we have combined? these people are religious fundamentalists who are in love with negativity.
  • in that same podcast the guest and host talked about how we shouldn't make it harder for people to join the fight against global warming by insisting that they change their individual behavior. according to them, no individual change in behavior is going to affect global warming - it's a systemic issue. this is how they both rationalized flying as much as they want, for example. we should ask individuals to be politically involved instead of involved through their habits.
  • so, that's their hair-brained argument. i wonder sometimes what happened to the "be the change you wish to see in the world" method of living. i rather like that since it move things in the right direction and gives one some semblance of moral authority - unlike the global warming nut who thinks the world is going to fall apart, but refuses to change his behavior. change should be for those people, but not me. sure, we have a domestic violence epidemic, but me not beating my wife anymore isn't going to put a dent in the problem. again, no personal responsibility. no culpability. just complaints about big oil. "gosh, i really do hate the duopoly in the american political system, but i'm going to keep voting Democrat."
  • ever heard of Tulpas? i hadn't until recently. basically it's just another in the long line of nonsense along the lines of transgender, transracial, furries, etc. - people inventing stories about what they are, and insisting you affirm them. tulpamancers are people who have "Tulpas" that live in their head and are essentially like multiple personalities. a good podcast about it. people will literally hear the voices of their Tulpas talking to them and telling them to do things. but, hey, it doesn't affect me and they think it's real so it's all good, amirite?
  • i'm going to need a lobotomy soon.
  • speaking of lobotomies...i think it's important to remember how wrong the medical community has been in the very recent past, and to assume that they are currently just as wrong about something else. lobotomies are still performed today and hopefully they've worked out the kinks and don't do it disproportionately to the poor and disenfranchised. eugenics is another relatively recent field that academics missed the mark on quite badly. the list of people who were eugenicists is astonishing. feminist margaret sanger, liberal supreme court heroes louis brandeis and oliver wendall holmes jr.. churchill, teddy roosevelt, hg wells, helen keller...people truly believed that we should systematically sterilize people for their supposed idiocy. as much as i dislike stupidity, i think almost everyone today would see this as a universally bad idea. look into the supreme court case Buck v. Bell for more on how bad this was and how deeply the ideas ran in polite upper crust society.
  • in Buck v Bell there was only one dissenter on the court - Pierce Butler. according to his wikipedia page he was opposed by both liberal magazines (the nation and the new republic) and the KKK. i can think of no higher accolade than to be opposed by such extremes. so, he was opposed by the extremes, he was right on Buck v. Bell and he also took a liberal reading of the 4th amendment in Olmstead v. United States. good job.
  • i don't watch hockey enough. it's a lot like life, though. i really admire the guys who get into the glass and fight for the puck. seems like it's sport where hustle matters more than raw athletic talent.
  • this american life had an episode where they talked about the fact that immigration pushes down wages for those without a high school degree. there was little change for those with a high school diploma or greater. this of course affects blacks the most since they are lowest on the totem pole. Democrats are currently pretty well unified against trump and the republicans, but if the republicans ever discover common sense, they that coalition will start to fray. latinos and asians have some obvious alignments with republicans and blacks suffer greatest from immigration, so this is something i see being a problem for the dems in 20 years if they insist on playing the identity politics games.
  • they also found that wages have been flat for the last 30-40 years. the wage issue is one that gets a lot of play, but part of the problem with it is that it doesn't taken into account total compensation. wages are one thing, but when employers still provide so many benefits, and benefits continue to cost more and more, you have to consider those as well. when you look at total compensation, that hasn't been flat like wages have. i don't have the data, but my understanding is that total compensation has kept up with inflation. it would be really great if we could divorce health insurance from employment. it just doesn't make any sense. parenthetically, i'll note that the reason this ever happened is because the government capped wages during world war 2. in order to compete for the best available people, employers introduced non-wage compensation like health benefits and the practice stuck. so, the government made bad law, the practice stuck, and now it's a major reason for our healthcare crisis.
  • on a podcast there was a woman from brooklyn who was talking about gentrification and she said "i'm seeing a a lot of white faces that i've never seen here before." gentrification is a big deal in cities the last several years during the recovery. every couple weeks there will be a discussion about it in local forums and it always seems to come down to long time black residents seeing white people in the neighborhood and not liking it. marshawn lynch said the same thing on bill maher recently. this is the state of affairs. i think it's basically ridiculous, but whatever, i'm not allowed an opinion on the matter. what's most funny to me is comparing what anti-gentrification people will say to what white trump supporters say about their brand of undesirable immigration. it's basically the same argument from both sides - new faces are moving into my neighborhood. i don't like them because they look different, don't fit into the existing culture, and are changing the neighborhood. there are some peripheral justifications for their feelings, but it always comes down to those core issues. in our society, though, one version is legitimate, the other is racist.
  • i think the best case scenario for trump's presidency at this point is that he gets an almost accidental win on something that turns out to be big in the long run. for Nixon it was the EPA, clean water act, and opening up China. for Trump maybe it'll be North Korea or establishing fair trade with China. otherwise he's been a total failure. i had two hopes for Trump going in. 1. he would move to the center since he's not actually an ideologue and shifts positions so much. 2. he would get 1-3 big things done to change the system because he doesn't give a fuck and thinks like an outsider.
  • so far none of that has really happened. there's the bump stock legislation that no one really talked about. the criminal justice reform that people didn't care about, but would have earned obama another nobel peace prize. there's some progress on North Korea, but everyone just says it was thanks to Moon. but nothing really big that Trump can legitimately hang his hat on. he's a loser, but at least his poor decisions haven't killed 100,000+ like GW Bush.
  • heard a podcast (99% invisible) where they were talking about fashion design. they talked about "pocket privilege" and a gay woman referred to plaid as cultural appropriation since it's supposedly a gay fabric. this is the kind of shit that just goes too far. this is not a crazy podcast. it's a very mainstream podcast about design of all sorts of things...this one just happened to be about fashion. but this is the kind of shit that just makes me go nuts. when grunge rockers wear plaid it isn't appropriation of gay culture anymore than wearing plaid is cultural appropriation of Scottish people. and yet, this is where this woman's head went first - cultural appropriation! for fuck's sake. then there's the pocket privilege issue. i've heard this one before. women complain that their clothing doesn't have pockets. i guess it's a patriarchal conspiracy to make women buy purses or something. i don't know. i missed that memo. i don't know about the availability of such pants, but i'll take the word of women who say there aren't many pants with pockets. my guess is that it has to do with fit (tighter fit isn't conducive to pockets) and cost (pockets cost more and women's clothing is probably already more costly because of different fabric, prints, cut, design when compared to the simplicity and lack of choices with men's pants). but i have to plead ignorance since fashion is something i care very little about. i basically wear the same thing every day and it makes my life very easy.
  • i will say that women can wear men's clothes without any social problems, but not vice versa. it's kinda like when i tell zoe that she can have everything on the kid's menu at a restaurant - as well as everything on the adult menu, but i'm only allowed to have things on the adult menu since the kids' menu says 10 or under only. i think most people think kids have fewer choices, but they actually have more.
  • say what you will about Trump, but can we all agree that Kasich is a joke and is only hanging around so he can get attention and free food? at first i was somewhat intrigued by him because he seemed relatively moderate amongst the sea of idiots that the republicans trotted out, but i grew tired of his bullshit early on. it's so obvious what he's about and what his shtick is. he has zero chance of winning any national office.
  • speaking of insufferable...the fucking patriots won another super bowl. god, please end this. i also saw that Robert Kraft, patriots owner, was picked up for solicitation. i shed no tears for the guy, but how is this still illegal and how did he get caught? seems like the cops should be doing something better with their time. i wouldn't doubt it if they targeted him because of who he is. and even if you're a billionaire prick of the worst franchise in sports...you shouldn't be targeted. this is how principles go. you either apply them to your enemies or the principles are worthless.
  • how is it even possible to get busted for solicitation anymore? just say you're making a movie and make it legit. i don't get it. you can do it for free. you can do it if you film it. but you can't pay for it without filming it. how long is it going to take before we figure this one out? it's just one of the dumbest things ever.
  • one more reason i don't follow the news on a daily basis is the kid in the MAGA hat at the Lincoln memorial debacle. on the media (liberal NPR show) covered it well and nearly everyone else lost their shit because "the kid is a piece of shit racist who needs to be beaten...oh wait, there's more to the story, sorry about that." i think it's important to revisit these stories after the news cycle has died down so we can look at them reasonable.
  • cecil the lion was a couple years ago, maybe we can look at the fact that hunters contribute more to wildlife preservation in Africa than anyone else. or we can just overreact to the story of the day, rinse, and repeat ad nauseum.
  • education could really be so much better. i mean, teachers need to learn about marketing and sales. you go to some museums and they understand this. they're there to sell you knowledge and it's not compulsory like high school, or college as the case may be. since museums need to attract visitors, instead of lecture to a captive audience, they do some salesmanship in the form of interactive exhibits, engaging and entertaining talks, multimedia displays, etc. in high school, though, it's rote memorization. if you take a linguistics class it's all talk about diphthongs. if you take chemistry you're learning about calculating moles. this is not entirely useful or interesting. it's awful. imagine if public schools had it in their head that they had to actually compete for students and parents. if they had to make their product enticing or at all interesting. i know first hand that they don't care about this on an administrative level at all. in K-12 i had ONE teacher i can remember who made a strong effort to teach interesting things in an interesting way. pretty much everyone else was just going through the motions trying to get through the curriculum. not entirely their fault, and i don't want to throw them under the bus because i had some good teachers by that standard, but most teachers are just trying to get through a bad curriculum and don't have a lot of energy or thought put into the delivery of the product. administrators are actually the worst.
  • if i put all my carpenters on broom and cleanup duty all day every day how many carpenters do you think i'll have at the end of the year? cleaning up the jobsite is as necessary as knowing what a diphthong is in linguistics, but it's far from the most interesting stuff you do while building a house. let's get some salesmanship into the field. if you're a teacher you're not merely passing information from your head to theirs, you're making them interested enough to want to learn everything they can. especially now that information is so easy to come by, the job of the educators should be to make learning fun.
  • in one year as many people immigrated into the UK as immigrated between 1066 and 1950 combined. andrew sullivan gave that amazing stat. i'm not sure if it says more about how few people the UK took in between those ~900 years or about how many people it took in in one year after the refugee crisis. probably a bit of both.
  • "Before you get rid of a fence, know why it's there." i think that's great advice and just about the best argument i could make on behalf of taking the conservative position in life. Conservatism is about conserving the ways of the past. sometimes that's really bad because it's just about tradition (which always makes me think of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery). but other times it's the really good instinct to not throw the baby out with the bath water. maybe there's a good reason we do things the way we do. maybe we should know very well why our society structures things as it does before we decide to reinvent the wheel. this is something i've come to appreciate more the last 10 years or so.
  • Pied Piper strategy employed by Clinton sought to get Trump the nomination. oops. i guess that backfired. the more i learn about that election and the way her campaign ran things, the less i feel sorry for her.
  • turns out Muhammad Ali was against mixing of the races. every day more and more heroes lose a bit of their luster.

  • 2/16/19 (13:15)

    2/12/19 (21:18)

  • monopsony has been getting a bit of play the few years or so. basically it's the idea that employers can have a monopoly on available jobs and can use that monopoly of employment power to drive down wages. one area it applies to is the UFC. fighters aren't unionized and the best among them make a lot of money and the UFC itself makes lots of money, but the majority of the fighters make relative peanuts. on the other hand, at least in that example, they may be the sole buyers of that kind of labor, but where would those fighters be without the UFC? a low wage UFC fighter may make only a few thousand per fight and may only get a few fights/jobs a year. this is seen as a bad thing by many, but, again, what would happen if the UFC didn't exist? there would be no buyer of their labor and instead of fighting for a few thousand bucks, they'd make nothing. or maybe they'd fight in the backyard wrestling circuit which is possibly illegal, doesn't have insurance, and pays even less. so, the UFC may not be the best or most equitable employer, but they're adding value to all who work for them as best i can tell.
  • there's a pretty funny scandal in virginia right now. the governor (D) was outed as having had a picture of himself in black face. he originally copped to it. then he denied it and said he's not sure the picture was him, but that he was in black face when he was dressing up as michael jackson. at first the Democrats were okay with this. they can look good by getting rid of him and the Lt. Governor is black so he'll be a step up in the diversity competition. then it was revealed that the Lt. Governor was accused of sexual assault. #3 in line would be the state AG, but he admitted that he, too, has dressed up in black face. so now the Democrats are thinking they should just stick with the Governor and ride it out. this is hilarious.
  • principles only matter if you follow them when it's inconvenient. otherwise it's just sanctimony. the Democrats proved here that they're no different than the Republicans when it comes to the issue of the acceptability of dressing in black face 30 years ago. this isn't equivalent to Kavanaugh.
  • another time this came up was with al franken. some Democrats felt good about themselves when they pushed him out and others were conflicted because he was a pretty good guy who did a bad thing and maybe he should be given a pass. but even those who felt really good about kicking him to the curb knew that the Democrat governor would pick a suitable replacement. the marginal choice was not between Al Franken and a Republican. it was the choice between Franken and a generic Democrat. there was little cost in making that decision.
  • there's been a lot of talk about diversity these days. diversity is great. i generally look to nature for wisdom on big picture things and one thing you see a lot, over and over again, is that diversity increases fitness and survival. one thing that is missing in this talk about diversity, though, is diversity of thought about what diversity means. pretty ironic, if you ask me.
  • Ask 10 people what diversity on the Supreme Court means and I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of them are going to mention race and gender among the first two or three things. Race and gender are nice enough metrics of diversity and necessary to some extent in a body such as the Supreme Court, but they're not the alpha and omega. The other thing people would probably say (I'm guessing older people) would be religion. There's only been one Catholic president and never an atheist or Muslim, so religion is still something that comes up when discussing diversity. Next might be ideological diversity, but no one actually wants that. They want liberal justices or conservative justices (whichever they happen to be).
  • All but 6 justices in the history of the country have been white guys so gender and race being high on the list makes sense. With that in mind maybe we can think about more than just that in the future...
  • Relgion-wise all the 9 justices are either Catholic or Jewish. How is that diversity?
  • There are 9 justices on the court now and all of them went to either Harvard, Yale, or Columbia. 9 justices all went through the educational process of just 3 schools. Rehnquist, Kennedy, Souter, Blackmun, and Scalia all keep to that trend. Everyone since 1990 has been to one of those schools except 3: Marshall, O'Connor, Stevens. They've all been indoctrinated by the same educational philosophy...How is that diversity?
  • How about net worth? Only Clarence Thomas isn't a multi-millionaire. RBG (liberal darling) is the richest with a net worth up to $25 million. How is that diversity?
  • How about regional diversity? They're all from large cities and at one point I think 4 of them were from NYC and 5 were from the tri-state area. RBG, Kagan, Sotomayor, Scalia, Alito. How is that diversity?

  • It would be great to have someone on the court who has lived outside of a courtroom or classroom for a few years in their adult lives. How can they understand rural concerns? They don't know what it means to hunt for food. They don't understand so much that many of us city dwellers miss because of our living situation. It would be nice to have a woman from North Dakota, who studied at the University of Missouri, on the court.

    1/9/19 (20:57)

  • been having a hard time updating lately. really been trying to relax as soon as the kids go to bed.
  • if i could hire people at the rate i'd like, then we'd have probably 3 employees and would be getting a lot more done. really tough to find people. when i was in school they talked about full employment being about 5% unemployment. we're at 3.7% now. supposedly (according to some democrats) it would be even better if trump wasn't the president. according to trump it would be even better if the Fed wasn't raising interest rates. never been a fan of these counterfactuals. impossible to prove.
  • anyway, the point is that we're basically at full employment in the traditional sense of the term and that means that people who want work are basically working and people who aren't working aren't working for a decent reason. maybe they're very low skilled or lazy or something like that. the average time spent looking for jobs has about doubled since 2008 which indicates to me that people are being very picky about the jobs they are willing to take. in 2008 the average time spent looking for a job was like 2 hours a day and today it's about twice that. in 2008 if you found a job then you would take it. today, the average job seeker wants a job with the right pay, benefits, work environment, etc. it's a job seeker's market right now. hence the problem i'm having finding help. i know a few marginally employed people and i haven't found any of them to be very reliable or motivated. all this is to say that looking for people right now is very difficult.
  • i haven't gotten many replies to ads we've done looking for help. here's one of the few people who responded to my question asking about his ideal work environment and what work he's doing now:
  • "Hi Chris  thanks for replaying to my request .

  • I been remodeling a condo two one houses in last couple of years also I am building a house for my family and do mechanical work. I have a few friends who own mechanic shops and I help them to promote/market their business.    So I  kept busy   but recently has being some changes on personal life   I see suitable and necessary to get a job that I can consider stable,   meaning I can prove income. also I would like to go home clean.    The Auto Mechanical  work pays very well but it can take a  physical toll and mental as it can be quite stressful.
    Ideal Job Environment   for me would be where I can peacefully work, I can begin and end a work day the same way I did a day before.  Also where there’s communication  I believe communication is very important.  So much can be not only solved but prevent by simply communicating
    Any how that would be my ideal however I am tolerant and can deal with pressure. I have worked with various investors and designers, done house flips., I have done custom cabinets before and I know what involves from the moment you take a phone call meet client design sale your design and sale the contract order materials cut list stain finish installation collect check do everything possible and impossible if possible! To not live a service  “services are bad”  I might be wrong but I rather work extra hours to finish so nobody has to go back.
    To tell you the truth I am not sure which job you were offering and I remember I did applied to few jobs that could teach me a few things that I don’t know how todo like texture and stucco work   I have tried and fail miserable I can’t do those not even to save my life everything else I can handle my self cabinets, closets, doors, crown & base molding are my strongest, sales don’t intimidate me but not sure if I convince people or I talk too much and buy my contracts so I leave but I can sale
    I hope you can have a better idea about me for good or bad but surly it will be even.    Lol have a great day"
  • speaking of the economy the unemployment rate is at its lowest for whites since 1969 and at its lowest EVER for blacks, hispanics and asians. my personal, totally arbitrary, rule is that new presidents own the economy after being in office for one year. so, things were sliding downward when obama took office, but after a year or two then had plateaued and then started moving upwards. clearly that was partly a result of his policies. again, we can't get into counterfactuals, but i think his stimulus was weak and poorly applied, but the recovery was real and has been sustained so he gets a B.
  • trump has had the economy for 2 years now and instead of it going to absolute shit, as many predicted, it has continued to do pretty well. trade wars have ramped up, but still the economy continues to do well. that's the good news and we have to give him some credit. however, this is a very short term analysis. the trade wars are doing real damage and may not work out well in the long run if china doesn't give in to his demands. if they give in to his demands for more fairness (something i actually agree with trump about), then maybe the short term damage is worth the long term gains. the tax cuts have undoubtedly been a stimulus for the economy and letting people keep more of their money is generally a moral good. however, we're running a horrible deficit and i think that's a problem. there are also signs of a recession next year (momentary partial yield curve inversion, for example).
  • so, right now it's trump's economy and it's doing well. a year from now, though, may be a very different story. we may have a recession, the deficit most likely would be worse at that point, and who knows what will happen with the china issue. in the interest of calling balls and strikes, i think you have to give trump some short term kudos at this point by at least acknowledging that the economy is good now.
  • having said all that, i think that most people overestimate the effect the president has on the economy. the Fed is a separate entity (though the chair is appointed by the president) and they have about as much influence on the economy as the executive branch, yet they get about 10% as much coverage.
  • the last few years i've had a real hard time watching any of these hollywood awards shows. weinstein and others really showed how fake these pricks are. not only is it their job to be fake, but they're so overly dramatic in real life. the clooney speech (mocked by south park) is a perfect example. i really can't stand them lately.
  • last weekend there was a story that seems to sum up the media of late. the story was on CNN and other major outlets. it went like this: "conservatives lose their minds over alexandria ocasio-cortez dance video" the story was that conservatives were mocking the dance video, that they thought she was awful because of it for some reason, etc. at first my reaction was very similar to most of the internet comments i saw: who would be offended by this video? wow, the republicans are really looking nuts by being shocked by this mild video. etc. then i realized that the story was entirely made up. as the NYT recalls its origin: "An edited version of the original footage surfaced when a Twitter account with the handle @AnonymousQ1776 published it online. “Here is America’s favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is,” read the tweet from @AnonymousQ1776, which incorrectly described it as a video from her high school days. The account was deleted before it resurfaced and disappeared again on Saturday." that's the whole story. one single twitter account tweeted something negative about her dancing and the mainstream media picked up the story as if it were a real story and as if people were actually outraged by this video. but when i went looking for the outrage from republicans and conservatives...nothing. i haven't found a single real person (talking head paid to stir controversy or otherwise) who has said anything resembling "losing their mind" or "outrage."
  • this is an entirely made up story about a video no one cares about. the fact that the NYT says it was meant as a smear and backfired is crazy. the fact that CNN spent time talking about it is outrageous. msnbc, vox, etc. all covered the story and (from the stories i read) all of them avoided mentioning the fact that no one actually cares about AOC dancing in a music video while in college.
  • i don't consume much day to day media anymore, but i saw this while at the gym and it really reinforced the notion that the mainstream media is completely off the reservation. they have no connection with the real world. they seek to create controversy because it's content and clicks for them. honestly, this kind of thing is just as likely to bring down our society as trump, and i don't say that lightly. these fake, vapid, vacuous, inane little stories being picked up by just about every major media outlet about what a single twitter user wrote....it's absolutely despicable. it makes me sick that the best coverage i've read of the "story" was on fox news. i've never said that in my life, but in googling about the story, the only news source that seemed to have it right was this story here.
  • i skimmed several stories about this fake controversy and the one that came closest (other than the fox news story) to admitting this wasn't real was this story in vanity fair. but look how she spins it. instead of admitting that no conservatives were outraged, she does some judo on it and says that conservatives have learned not to mock her. she's implying that conservatives would have mocked this video, but they learned they shouldn't because AOC is so charismatic that it doesn't work. THIS IS FUCKING CRAZY. I CAN'T EVEN MAKE THIS SHIT UP. THE MEDIA SUCKS SO MUCH DICK AND IS GOING TO FUCKING RUIN OUR COUNTRY. THEY'RE GOING TO GIVE THE ORANGE GUY MORE AIR TIME AND THEN DIVIDE US WITH BULLSHIT STORIES. I FUCKING HATE THEM.
  • from the vanity fair piece:
  • "Last week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez offered a master class in the aggressive yet disarming use of social media that has defined her early political career. An anonymous account tweeted a video of a cheerful, college-aged Ocasio-Cortez dancing on a rooftop, intended to depict her as a “clueless nitwit.” The recently inaugurated congresswoman, recognizing an opportunity, responded by politicizing the social-media skirmish, accusing her sternest critics in the Republican Party of believing that “having fun should be disqualifying or illegal.” She later went a step further: “I hear the GOP thinks women dancing are scandalous,” she tweeted, along with a video of her grooving outside her new office on Capitol Hill.

  • Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet immediately went viral, thanks to the potent combination of shameless dancing, millennial nostalgia-bait “Lisztomania,” and a throng of friendly digital-media companies that promptly agreed that conservatives had, indeed, “lost it.” Multiple Web sites declared that Ocasio-Cortez was the target of a “smear campaign.”

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    The charge spread rapidly online, despite Republicans’ insistence that nobody really cared. “No one thinks this is scandalous,” tweeted Rep. Dan Crenshaw, himself a burgeoning conservative media darling, adding that the Breakfast Club-inspired dancing “was actually pretty good.” Non-politicians went further, claiming that the mainstream media was trying to distract voters from Ocasio-Cortez’s more radical policies (a 70 percent marginal income tax on the wealthy, for instance) by ginning up imaginary right-wing haters. “There is literally no evidence that any human Republican shamed AOC over her dancing video,” wrote the Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson, in response to an article bashing conservatives for obsessing over the video. Fox News media reporter Brian Flood lamented the “slew of misleading stories claiming conservatives were outraged over it, despite virtually no supporting evidence.”

    It appears Republicans have finally learned, after nearly seven months of lobbing relentless attacks at the 29-year-old for largely superficial reasons—like whether she went to a fancy high school, or if she was just some Instant Pot liberal who wears designer clothes—that criticizing Ocasio-Cortez only makes her stronger. Republicans first recognized the obsession with A.O.C. had backfired in November, after a conservative journalist commented on the clothes she wore in Congress. “I personally think that stuff is wrong, and you shouldn’t do it—because it negates your argument, and it only kind of solidifies her status,” media critic Stephen L. Miller told me at the time. But even then, it was too late—the newly minted congresswoman had already been elevated to a position of Trump-like power within the Democratic Party, capable of resetting the political agenda with a tweet, or triggering her own media spin cycle. No wonder, then, that conservatives pulled their punches on the dancing video, and protested so forcefully when they were accused of taking the bait. If earlier tussles with Ocasio-Cortez had been counterproductive, the prospect of attacking her for an innocent homage to a classic 80s movie would have been catastrophic."
    i'm so fucking pissed. i watched CNN for 30 minutes and it ruined my day.