12/28/21 (16:05)
  • People have been annoying me more than usual lately. I've received probably 50+ emails from one tenant about her dust/chemical sensitivities. We're upgrading the electrical in her building (9 units) and I get a few emails a day asking questions about the work (even though I've outlined it for her already) and reminding me that she has special paint she wants us to use and that we shouldn't wear cologne around her and all sorts of other shit. I've dealt with people like this before and every time it's exhausting. They're never easy going people - they need to control every aspect of the work and know everything that will happen. It's strange that a seemingly biological allergy should correlate so highly with a type A personality. It's almost as if one causes the other. Are they only controlling when it comes to work being done in their home, in which case you could say that they are controlling because they want to avoid allergic reactions, or are they controlling in other aspects as well? If they are controlling in other areas then one might begin to wonder if it is the control that causes the allergy, rather than the other way around.
  • I think I'm at the point where I have to make it a goal to not do small tenant jobs anymore. They're just way too annoying. People are annoying.

  •  

     

    12/12/21 (19:06)

  • Meryl and the girls out today delivering baked goods to friends/family so I had the place to myself a bit.
  • Have I mentioned my theory that the internet will increase inequality over time? The best and brightest will have access to the best information and resources the world has ever seen and will flourish as a result. The least bright will have access to the greatest distractions of all-time and will avail themselves of that. The best businesses will get the most good reviews and capitalize on their success to a degree never seen before. The worst businesses will get scathing reviews and be gone sooner than they otherwise would. Because of remote work and networking, the best employees will be attracted to the best businesses and those businesses will get even better and make even more money and solidify their positions. I think we're seeing this already and it will only be accelerated as the internet becomes a bigger and bigger part of everything we do and is part of our lives from cradle to grave with successive generations. The good is that this means if you're born into poverty you have a better chance than ever to get out if you have the right attributes and make the right choices. Of course the bad is the flip side of that.
  • Forgot to include the BLM response to Jussie Smollett in my earlier post:

  • "As abolitionists, we approach situations of injustice with love and align ourselves with our community. Because we got us. So letís be clear: we love everybody in our community. Itís not about a trial or a verdict decided in a white supremacist charade, itís about how we treat our community when corrupt systems are working to devalue their lives. In an abolitionist society, this trial would not be taking place, and our communities would not have to fight and suffer to prove our worth. Instead, we find ourselves, once again, being forced to put our lives and our value in the hands of judges and juries operating in a system that is designed to oppress us, while continuing to face a corrupt and violent police department, which has proven time and again to have no respect for our lives.

    In our commitment to abolition, we can never believe police, especially the Chicago Police Department (CPD) over Jussie Smollett, a Black man who has been courageously present, visible, and vocal in the struggle for Black freedom. While policing at-large is an irredeemable institution, CPD is notorious for its long and deep history of corruption, racism, and brutality. From the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, to the Burge tortures, to the murder of Laquan McDonald and subsequent cover-up, to the hundreds of others killed by Chicago police over the years and the thousands who survived abuse, Chicago police consistently demonstrate that they are among the worst of the worst. Police lie and Chicago police lie especially.

    Black Lives Matter will continue to work towards the abolition of police and every unjust system. We will continue to love and protect one another, and wrap our arms around those who do the work to usher in Black freedom and, by extension, freedom for everyone else."

  • Maybe rationality is part of white surpremacy, but this doesn't make much sense to me. The Right lost its mind a generation ago and still hasn't found it. Now the Left has joined them.

  •  

     
     
     

    12/12/21 (11:05)

  • G spending relative to GDP. Going the wrong way.
  • No surprise, the media coverage of COVID is overly negative. The media is fucking us at every possible turn.
  • I still see places bragging about the cleaning that they do of shopping carts or bathrooms or whatever. I still see employees dedicated to cleaning every surface imaginable in whatever store they're in. I'm not sure why this is still a thing since it's been pretty well established that fomite transmission is minimal at best. The science doesn't seem to be getting around. I'm wondering if we're creating super bugs with all this religious cleaning that we're doing. Meanwhile, there's no profit motive to create new antibiotics so could we be creating issues for 5-10 years from now? My grandma has long put the idea in my head that over-sanitizing the world is not good for us and everything I hear and read seems to back that up. If anything, we should be exposing ourselves (especially at a young age) to more germs and farm animals and the like. We have probiotics, maybe some day we'll have capsules for commonly found germs to increase exposure in a decreasingly dirty environment.
  • The Jussie Smollett thing is pretty amazing. First he lies about being attacked by a couple of white guys wearing MAGA hats and they threw bleach on him and tied a noose around his neck. He still had the noose on when the cops showed up. The whole thing was pretty strange from the get go once you learn all the details. The media ran with it in a big way and was relatively silent when it was revealed that it was all a lie...the guys he paid to attack him were black and he paid with a check. I mean the whole thing is comically bad in its execution. So, it's just one desperate idiot doing a dumb and desperate thing. I don't think we should get too bent out of shape about that. What does require some outrage, however, is the fact that 1) he's responding to cultural incentives and 2) the reaction by the media and elites only reinforces those incentives and in a pretty irresponsible way in some instances.
  • 1) the incentives in today's culture are such that being a victim of things gives you cache. I don't know how we got here or how we get out, but it's clear that you gain cultural points if you are a victim and the more of a victim you can claim to be, the more points you get. Trans cripples of color who are attacked by white men near the very top of this new hierarchy. When the old hierarchy isn't fair or equitable then people create new ones. Perhaps that's what's happening here.
  • 2) Without evidence Biden, Harris, etc. tweet about it and say it's a modern day lynching and all the rest. Why do we feel the need to comment on these types of stories (Smollett, Rittenhouse, etc.) when we don't have very much information? On the Media (NPR show from WNYC) does these little handbook guides about how to react to certain types of stories like mass shootings. One of the points they make is that the first accounts are almost always wrong. When you hear about a story like a mass shooting very frequently they talk about a second possible shooter or they speculate on motivation or they get the number of victims wrong, etc. It happened recently with the nail salon shooting, as one example. We need to force ourselves to think slowly on these cases because we never have anywhere near the full picture. In media the motto is "get it first, but get it right, but get it first." This is only amplified by the internet and Twitter culture that makes everyone want everything NOW.
  • Lastly, there is the doubling down. He continues to claim it actually happened and his supporters are standing by him for some reason. When you can't change your mind your brain dies.
  • One last item - go ahead and search for what happened to Breonna Taylor's boyfriend. His name is Kenneth Walker. If you search for Kenneth Walker you only get the MSU running back who had a decent season. Why doesn't the media cover what happened to Kenneth Walker? He's a black man who shot a cop and coverage of his charges and journey through the justice system earlier this year was quite minimal. Why? Because his charges were dropped so there's no story there that fits a media narrative. Had the prosecutor gone hard on him and the judge not dropped the charges, then the media would have been ringing the bell of negativity and racism. Instead, proper justice was served (he got off because of self-defense) and they don't report good news much so they moved right along to whatever was the flavor of the day...maybe another story about the Delta variant.

  •  

     
     
     

    12/9/21 (20:24)

  • Has the guitar stopped evolving? The last time I heard something that I thought was really new from the guitar was with Tom Morello and that was 30 years ago. Not a lot of new sounds coming from the guitar anymore. Some will point to North African music like Tinarwen and Mdou Moctar, which I definitely like, but it's not really a new sound to me.
  • Catching up....
  • We're officially up to five guys now. Antonio and Edwin are brothers, Carlos (father) and Victor (son) and their neighbor Jesus. It's funny because Carlos told me about Jesus and gave me his contact info by attaching the contact card from his phone via a text to me. So I got his info as it appeared in Carlos' phone. It had his name as Jesus Vecino. This seemed like a fine name to me and since I took Latin instead of Spanish, I didn't know any better until Merritt was singing a song to me yesterday. It was something about loving your neighbor or the usual first grade type stuff and then she broke out with the same song in Spanish, which impressed me quite a bit because her accent is much better than mine. But I noticed that the Spanish word for neighbor was "vecino" so I looked it up to be sure and it turns out that Carlos had Jesus in his phonebook as "Jesus Neighbor," and then it all clicked for me. Guess this is the downside of paying with cash, instead of doing things formally through payroll. This is another topic for another day, but most of the guys I work with aren't documented and so that's an issue. Edwin is a refugee from Guatemala and is close to getting his papers so that may be fixed shortly, but not so for Jesus.
  • Over the Thanksgiving break we took a few days off and went to NYC. Usually we would take off Thursday and Friday, but we decided to take off M-W and the previous Friday for a big break (10 days). This year has been really hectic. We've earned more than double our previous best year (2020) and hadn't been on vacation in two years so it felt like time. I was able to get work for the guys on Friday and Monday so they only missed two days plus the usual Thanksgiving days, so I felt better about that.
  • I'm working on a trip page for it...hopefully that won't take forever.
  • This year has been our busiest yet, but I've settled into a bit of a rhythm. Things were slightly slower for the last week of November and first week of December, but they started picking up this week already. Have several jobs that are lining up along with the usual little stuff that comes up. It's just crazy.
  • In the trades one of the things you'll see are people who go from job site to job site selling food for the workers. 100% of the time they are hispanic women (sometimes a guy is with them also, but women are always present) and they're just selling whatever they cooked that morning for the workers. It could be tacos or pupusas or tamales or a plate with something I don't even know what it's called. But it's always good and hot and pretty awesome to see these immigrants feeding the people who are building things. There's one lady who is usually at the High Street HD and I've gotten tamales from her a few times. There's another woman who works in SF and the guys have her number and text her to come by and we get lunch from her on occasion. This kind of informal economy spearheaded by immigrants who are eager to work and hustle is what America should be about. Let more of these people in (in a controlled way) and help them climb the stairway to the middle class.
  • Sweden and Norway have more billionaires per capita than the US according to The Economist magazine.
  • You've probably seen the bumper sticker or lawn sign that says "any functioning adult 2020." I had a chuckle whenever I saw that. It's pathetic, but taps into a real desire. When Biden was elected it seemed like it came true, but if you watch him talk for more than a few minutes then you realize he's only marginally functional. It's a sad situation because he used to be fairly sharp and funny, but he's a rambling old man at this point. If you watch videos you'll see his handlers cut off questions and it really seems like the media won't show him talking for more than a few seconds at a time. Some of that is par for the course because the media deals in 30 second blocks, but it seems worse now and I'm guessing that's because he really struggles in putting together coherent sentences for extended stretches. There are a thousand compilations online of him stumbling over his words or coughing or mispronouncing things. I think it would be a train wreck if he ran again. Democrats need to get their shit together or else they're fucked in 3 years. Meanwhile, Kamala's approval ratings are even lower (12% according to this one and better coverage here).
  • This effort to curtail presidential power is the kind of thing we need more of. Rare for a party to do it while they're in power, but a step in the right direction. NYT update.
  • Good and important episode on biological research. Changed my mind on the topic. Julia Galef is one of my favorite podcasters, but she doesn't put out much content anymore.
  • Relatedly (sorta) here's an episode on the lab leak theory. I've heard podcasts on both sides of the topic and I'm at the point where I think the most likely story is that COVID was caused by an accidental leak from the Wuhan lab. Possibly more important than that, though, is the cover up and the way the media dealt with the whole story - dismissing it out of hand, calling it a conspiracy theory, etc. without doing any actual work on the topic. In case you still think that's the case and are impressed by the usual metrics here are a couple points that might get you to open to the possibility of listening to the episode - Jamie Metzl went to Harvard and is a Democrat who worked for Bill Clinton on the National Security Council. Lex Fridman is a researcher at MIT. So, these guys aren't Joe Rogan, if that's the kind of argument that impresses you. At any rate, the whole issue is pretty muddied at this point and we may never know the truth. It's also possible there will be a slow burn and it will become a larger issue down the line. It's fraught because China has so much power and has so much to lose if they were the cause of it and then covered it up/made it difficult to get to the bottom of things.
  • Zillow recently lost $400m in one quarter because they got into the house flipping business based upon their shitty algorithm. This is a bit of hindsight and you have to trust me-ism, but everyone I talk to who knows real estate has long said that Zillow doesn't know what shit should actually go for. In general, I've always felt they overpriced properties. Further, to think that you can flip all these properties based upon an algorithm without looking at these places in person is just crazy. If you're buying things at auction it's one thing because everyone has the same information, but when you're buying from a homeowner on the open market and you're winning all these bids then you have to think that there's an asymmetry of information. Zillow's problem is that they thought they were the ones with more information, but it was actually the people who lived in the home or bid on the home after seeing it who had more information. My understanding is that they never put inspectors on the ground for these properties. Then they had trouble finding contractors to do the actual flipping. These are problems I could have easily told them about beforehand (again, you have to trust me on this since I didn't pre-register any of this). I frankly have no idea how a company could be this dumb. I've been involved in flipping before and there are a couple "secrets" - buy low (usually off market) and have a good contractor/team who can handle everything and move things along without losing time.
  • Now that he's gone I feel like it's okay to talk about him a bit more...Trump was a failure at essentially everything he did - even the things he should have been good at. Stop me if I've said this before. COVID happens and he's a germophobe who hates China (or at least recognizes them as a threat to US hegemony). He didn't go hard on China on the lab leak theory, he didn't stop travel from China, he didn't fight the virus...I mean these are things that are right in his wheelhouse and he didn't even take a swing at them. Some presidents are good at foreign relations or dealing with Congress or whatever. This should have been a strong point for him, but he sucked at it.
  • Another point on COVID and Trump. If you're one of the "Trump is literally Hitler" people then wouldn't COVID be the perfect analog to the Reichstag Fire? His opportunity to seize power, attack China, get some rally round the flag effect, etc.? I think this is plainly obvious and the fact that he didn't says something about him - namely that he's not the fascist that some thought. Maybe he's a different kind of strong man who didn't want to go quietly on January 6, but the fact that he had the slow burning pandemic that he could have used in all sorts of ways and chose not to says something about him - namely that he's not Hitler or Stalin. Populist, narcissist, incompetent leader...sure, but not Hitler. High praise.
  • One of the most unselfish things a person can do is to be self-sufficient. If you're not a drain on society or those around you then you are freeing them up to do things for others or themselves; that's a great gift. Few things seem as unselfish as giving those around you their time and lessening their burden. Unfortunately we seem to think of selflessness solely as giving ourselves (and our money/things) to others. This is a narrow view IMO. It's understandable of course because you don't notice the things that don't happen. We humans have a bias towards action and recognizing actions, not in recognizing the things that don't happen. It's easier to recognize a thing that is present than a thing that is absent. For this reason and others, one of my primary goals as a parent is to make my kids self-sufficient. Sure, we all need each other, no man is an island, "you didn't build that," we're social animals, we all age and get unwell, etc., but I believe your first responsibility it to take care of yourself. Do communists and collectivist types have that outlook because they can't take care of themselves or do they not take care of themselves because they have a collectivist outlook? My experience says the former, but I can't say for sure.
  • I think there's a strong chance that I will lose my mind in my later years. I feel words slipping from memory much more these days. My mind isn't as sharp as it was before. Perhaps it's just natural aging. Perhaps it's because I don't work out enough. Maybe it's stress. It makes me very sad to envision the future when I can't get a sentence out like Biden or when I don't remember my kids' names or something.
  • A lot of the intelligentsia get all worked up when we drop out of the Paris Accord or similar and yet none of the signatories are on pace to meet their goals (according to On The Media podcast). Many countries still aren't on pace for the Kyoto protocol either. So what's the purpose of these circle jerks? Greta Thunberg is an interesting young lady, but she's pretty much right when she says it's a lot of "blah blah blah." They make goals for 75 years from now as if it has any relationship to reality. Our leaders are all phoneys. I need to reread Catcher in the Rye.
  • The flu kills about 30k/year and is active 3-6 months a year. That's about 1k/week. If we get down to that with COVID can we take off masks and not get booster #8? Just like Iraq/Afghanistan...there's no exit strategy. This broken leadership and decision making. Look at the people in charge and what they do - Biden, SF Mayor, CA governor, DC mayor, MI governor, Pelosi, Feinstein, etc. all these people have touted masks and restrictions on indoor dining and the rest and all of them have been caught not following their own rules. So, do they think the rules not apply to them? Do they think the rules are dumb? I mean, if they really thought what they say - that the rules save lives - then wouldn't they be really awful people (by their own standards) for violating said rules? The most charitable interpretation is that they had a momentary lapse of judgment, but I don't think that holds up because in most of these cases (maybe all) they were caught doing something that wasn't momentary - an extended dinner, an extended night out, an entire hair dresser appointment, etc. It's not like they were caught taking off their mask while talking to someone in a loud room.
  • All this shit is theater at this point. If you can find some data on the efficacy of real people wearing real masks in a real study and it finds efficacy over 20% then let me know. From what I'm hearing most people wear the wrong masks (non n-95) and don't wear them particularly well and that generally translates to about 10% reduction in transmission. So, I don't think it's particularly good public health policy and I don't think it's good politics.
  • Omicron is the latest variant of interest and I've seen this movie before. Nuff said on that.
  • Andrew Yang wasn't my favorite candidate, but he's starting a new party (the Forward party) and it's less a party and more an endorsement mechanism. This is an interesting approach and I wish him well. It seems more organized around disposition and outlook on fundamentals like agreeable debate than policy like pro-choice or whatever. It's kind of a get back to the fundamentals concept. We seem to have forgotten what we're supposed to be about.
  • The election in Virginia got a lot of coverage, but most of the media got it wrong because they're worthless idiots. Sorry, I meant to be more insightful, but I couldn't help it. The #1 reason the Dem lost is that he said "I donít think parents should be telling schools what they should teach." I mean the guy is about as tone deaf as is possible. Of course Joy Reid and others made it all about race and Trump and it didn't work. Democrats are playing the part of the chastising parents - a role the Republicans used to play - and it's not working well for them. People don't want to be lectured and talked down to and told they're racist for existing. It's not a winning strategy.
  • Speaking of Democrats losing their fucking minds. Maxine Waters saw this video and said that it was "worse than slavery." Then the NCAAP president said that the Rittenhouse trial outcome was "worse than the Emmett Till trial." To have two prominent black leaders say these things is truly shocking to me. I just can't fathom the logic here and I'm constantly wondering if I'm the one losing my mind or what.
  • I'm wondering when we'll wake up from this madness.
  • Saw a sign the other day that read "crime free zone." I mean, it's a nice try I guess. Honestly, though, who thinks of this shit? It was an official city sign.
  • Back to Virginia - they elected their first black woman to statewide office. Chances are decent you didn't hear about it 24/7, though, because she has an (R) next to her name. These kinds of things make me wonder how much of the race issue is really about race for some people. I'm sure there are some true believers, but it also seems like some people bring up race just because it's politically expedient. When a black woman is Republican and she wins it just doesn't seem to make the news and I can't help but doubt the veracity of their motives when such a thing happens. If race and gender equity were so important then it would be a nice opportunity to talk about Winsome Sears and her journey to Lt. Governor, but I just didn't get any of that after the election. Curious.
  • It would be nice if these pundits and political types had actual convictions and principles.
  • In video games there are NPC (non-player characters) who are just part of the background of the game. In life it seems like more and more people are NPCs. They just kinda wander around looking down at their phones unaware of their surroundings literally bumping into each other, stationary things, and otherwise appearing as though they're not humans.
  • Have you noticed the rise of "gaslighting" being used by people? I have. Google trends is great because I can fact check my perception of things like this. See below. My belief is that people are more hip to the concept of gaslighting (I think it comes from the Ingrid Bergman film Gaslight) because we are living in a postmodern, self-obsessed world. The concept, in case you don't know, is defined as "a colloquialism that is loosely defined as "making someone question their own reality". The term may also be used to describe a person who effectively puts forth a false narrative that leads another person or a group of people to doubt their own perceptions and become disoriented or distressed." Of course if you are self-obsessed and think your truth is the Truth (capital T) then anyone questioning you is gaslighting you. Trouble is sometimes you're just crazy and everyone else is trying to set you straight. The clever judo is that you call this reality check "gaslighting" and then they become the bad guys. It's brilliant, sinister, and exactly what you would expect when Truth dies and is replaced by "your truth" and "lived experience." Watch the way language changes and you'll see how society is going. Orwell knew this extremely well.
  • I've also noticed the rise of "y'all" - which used to be laughed at by anyone not from the South. But as collectivists gain power it seems to have risen quite a bit. "Y'all" matters more than "you." The group matters more than you the individual. Google also has Ngram viewer and you can look up y'all on that and it's a hockey stick.
  • Still probably the best commercial of all-time.


  • 12/6/21 (18:12)
  • Better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.
  • Listening to the local NPR Forum show has been pretty funny the last few years. You hear some pretty wacky shit being taken quite seriously. Heard the other day, for example, that recreation is a colonial practice. I'm not even totally sure what that means. And...you're welcome? I mean I thought recreation was a good thing, but then I heard from her that it's a colonial practice. I know that colonialism is one of the deadly sins these days so is recreation no longer a good thing? Maybe the thought of needing to call having fun a separate thing is colonialism? Maybe it should just be called life and work is the real sin or something? These are the people who spend too much time masturbating intellectually.
  • I don't know it for a fact, but I'm guessing that we spend more on welfare style programs than most Western countries. Take SS, medicare, medicaid, welfare, SNAP, healthcare subsidies, etc. and combine them and it's well over 60% of federal spending. So, it's not that we're not spending enough...it's that the money is 1) going to the wrong people 2) being inefficiently allocated 3) graft is sucking away some (maybe related to #1). No one really talks about this because SS is the third rail of politics, but there's no way around it. Democrats seem to think our country is full of hateful bigots who don't want to give black and brown people government cheese. The reality is that the government is spending more than enough, we just don't do a good job running any of the programs and we spend far too much on old people.
  • I'll be old some day (hopefully), but I still don't think it makes sense for so much of our social welfare money to go to people who had their entire lives to get their financial house in order. We'd be much better off allocating much of that money and energy towards a better social safety net, job training and education that work (not sure our government is capable of this), and creating opportunity for people to thrive so they can save. Then it's up to each individual to prepare for retirement instead of living off the working people who are paying into the Ponzi scheme that is SS.

  • Every few months or years USPS will come under fire and conservatives will say it's a shitty organization that loses money. USPS is one of the best things that government provides IMO. Congress needs to let it run the way it needs to be run, instead they hamper it (by requiring it to pre-fund something like $6 billion/year into the pension) to artificially make it look like its losing money. It would work just fine if Congress would stop fucking around with it. I would love to see USPS invest in its infrastructure with electric cars, more automation, etc. They could expand what they do by adding banking to their locations or cameras for mapping to their vehicles (I'm sure some company would pay for this). Anyway, there is a lot of potential when you talk about 300k+ mail carriers going to (almost) every house in the country several times a week. Be creative, let a businessperson run it, and get out of the way.