5/19/21 (20:18)
  • Okay, so I wanted to finally revisit the CA vs. TX vs. FL COVID response. I want to look at it since the TX governor said "we're open for business" and effectively went against all the suggestions to keep mask restrictions, etc. I also want to look at the bottom line number for the entire pandemic to see if CA (which as been in various states of lockdown since relatively early) did demonstrably better than FL (which was slow to respond and quick to reopen schools, etc.).
  • Some factors that might affect things other than the lockdown status (state government response)...population density, population makeup (age, race, income). Local restrictions, which might vary quite a bit depending upon county. Ideally we would look at things zip code by zip code and compare public policy and demographics and figure things out. With that in mind, it's too much work for me to look into all those variables and come up with a really great idea of how much each factor played into the death toll so I'll just do what's easy and I think at least somewhat instructive considering the perceived importance of the gap between CA and TX/FL.
  • One other note is that I'm looking at the deaths per million people statistic. It's less reliant upon testing, less likely to be manipulated, and is adjusted for population. So here are the numbers...


  • CA is doing the best of the 3 I'm looking at. 1586 deaths per million compared to 1679 and 1765 for FL/TX respectively. So, TX is about 11% worse than CA and FL is about 6% worse.
  • If you look at the top chart and the bottom chart, you'll see that both FL and TX did better than CA in that time. CA went +286, FL went +260, and TX (whose governor was lambasted for spiking the football too early) went +267. All pretty close, but CA actually did the worst of the 3. Could be because of a bad vaccine roll out, but, according to Google the vaccination rate for CA is 39.3%. FL is lower at 36.2% and TX is lowest at 33.1%. So, FL and TX are worse than CA at vaccination and far more open from an economic and social standpoint, but they have done better than CA since 3/2/21 when Greg Abbott opened up the state and only 6-11% worse than CA overall.
  • I think these numbers point towards a much more difficult story than what we're being told by the mainstream narrative. Public policy seems to have an effect, but it doesn't appear to be the huge difference that many think...at least on the state level. Again, we could look at zip code level stats and demographics like age or BMI or something, but the bottom line for me is that CA destroyed education for a year+, destroyed the lives of many lower income earners, destroyed many small businesses, increased deaths of loneliness, etc. and the result isn't as clearly better as you might hope.
  • Another way of looking at it is, if CA had done 11% worse (same rate as TX) they would have had 69,739 deaths, which would have been an additional 7,080 deaths.
  • One question I've had since very early on is how many deaths is acceptable? The prevailing wisdom amongst the orthodoxy right now is that no deaths are acceptable. I've heard these exact words from a teachers' union representative, in fact. But, what's the actual number? We accept deaths from all sorts of things all the time. What number of deaths would we accept to have our economy back or to be able to visit our dying grandma (check the This American Life episode linked above) or to have school back in session so our kids can learn and we can go to work? Is 7,000 deaths in 16 months, in a state of 40 million okay?
  • As Nate Silver pointed out...if you've gotten your vaccine and you're not changing your behavior then that's a pretty good sign that you're overreacting.
  • There's an idea of Truth (with a capital T) and poetic truth. The Truth is what I think most people think of when they hear the word...it's the actual thing that actually happened. You can play epistemological games and get philosophical about it, but let's say that such a thing exists. Either a thing happened or it didn't. Then there's the poetic truth, which is what we seem to have in today's "post truth" world. It's the thing that is true enough, or, even if it isn't true, gets at a fundamental truth. So, the poetic truth might not be a thing that happened, but it could have happened because of how the world is. Poetic truth maybe didn't happen in this instance, but it has happened before so, hey, it's close enough. "Hands up, don't shoot" is a poetic truth. Eric Holder's DOJ found as much and yet it's a myth that persists. Supposedly, Michael Brown said it before he was killed in cold blood. It's an inconvenient truth that Brown was not a boy scout and was actually fighting with the cop before he was killed. But, something like the narrative around the Brown shooting certainly could have happened, and certainly has happened elsewhere in the past...so it's true enough. At least that's how the argument goes.
  • To what extent does it matter that the poetic truth isn't the Truth?
  • Crypto market took a dump today. I actually cashed out 80% of my position last week so I got lucky on that. My worry about BTC (which I've never owned) is that it could seemingly be easily replaced. Gold is gold and will always be useful and important. BTC could be replaced tomorrow by someone who figures out a better version (maybe it takes less power to mine or fixes some other issue with BTC). Since BTC can't change, it could be obsolete with a better competitor.
  • I think the crypto market is a bit bonkers and indicative of society. It changes rapidly and doesn't seem to have any actual value behind it (in many cases). Unlike stocks, which are connected to real companies with earnings and disclosures and the rest, it appears as though crypto has a lot less behind it (thus making valuation difficult). It seems the way to make money on it is the same way you make mony on GME stock. Find the popular coin of the day and invest short term. Less an investment and more an attempt at making money out of nothing. Or maybe it's just a wealth transfer of sorts.
  • more signs of inflation...


  • 5/4/21 (18:42)

  • If you think cops aren't thinking about this kind of interaction every time they make a stop then you're not paying attention. I guarantee that there are hundreds of videos like this where it's a close call or a cop gets killed that make the rounds with cops. They talk about them in training and cops surely share them with each other. I've seen dozens so I know the cops have seen even more. And I've seen some of the training videos where they break this stuff down frame by frame and talk about the mindset you have to have to stay alive. Unfortunately, that mindset doesn't go well with regular policing. Any reform we suggest has to keep all these things in mind. Most of the reforms I'm seeing from the BLM crowd don't take any of this into account.

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    5/3/21 (20:57)

  • Been looking for a warehouse space for a while now. The goal is to have all our work and home stuff in one space so 1) we don't have to keep paying for storage costs (which go up every few months) 2) have everything in one secure place 3) have everything in one place so it's easier for Meryl to manage her staging inventory 4) have a bigger space for my tools/materials 5) move so we don't have to be around our annoying neighbors 6) get a bit closer to the amenities we like to be around. Can't recall if I've written about this here yet. The long and short of it is that we've been looking for a while. Found a place a few months ago that ticked all the boxes, but it had two tenants so that would have been a challenge and it sold to someone else anyway so... Now we've found another place, but it's 21,000 sf and way more expensive than we can afford, but, if we rent out portions of it, and get it for well below asking price, then it gets to a place that's doable. Those are big ifs so we'll see. Meryl needs about 2000 sf for her inventory and I'd like the same for my materials and shop space. The living space could be 1500 sf and that would be good enough. We would need to get our office in there somewhere as well.
  • One of the unintended consequences of the "green economy" (pot) is that it has driven up the cost of any warehouse type space quite a bit. This one may not be affected by that, though, since it's near a school and they tend to be wary of that.
  • Crypto has been really big the last six months or so. Wish I had gotten into it earlier. The only two players that I see as solid at this point are ETH and BTC. BTC has gone up like 500%  in the last year and ETH has gone up 1.5k% in that time. BTC I see less as an alternative to cash and more as an alternative to gold. It's a store of value and hedge against inflation. ETH is potentially the platform for the future. The problem with both of them is that valuation is tough to justify since it's such a new market. I think people are still figuring it out. My (small) stake in ETH has doubled since I went in. Obviously I wish I had put in everything with returns like that in such a short time period.
  • Re: valuation, I think this is the tough point with all crypto. Ultimately it's a supply and demand thing of course, but that's not saying much. My hunch is that ETH is much more likely to go up 10x in 10 years than it is to go down 10x in that time. In that way, the valuation seems to be on the side of buying. I think there are more things that could drive the cost up than down. Unlike BTC, ETH is dynamic and holds real value beyond a store of value since it's a platform for potentially game changing things. Hopefully those things come to fruition and it becomes the game changer that people think it could be.
  • I have been going on and on about inflation and MMT for a while now and it's one of those things where I'll either be wrong or I'll be wrong until I'm right. I still just don't see how the government can pump so much money into the economy without a negative consequence. I don't know where/how it will all go wrong, but I think it has to. The point of these black swan type events is that you don't see them coming. Economists will measure inflation like they always have and everything will look fine and then the shit will hit the fan and they'll realize there was a blind spot somewhere and they'll start measuring that for next time.
  • One interesting possibility is that shortages (like we're seeing in everything from ketchup packets to chlorine) could be one manifestation of inflation. Where we don't have shortages we have straight up price increases like lumber, copper, metal, and more. Ultimately, I just don't believe the super genius MMT folks.

  • In contradictory news, I've been trying to have an abundance mindset lately, as opposed to a scarcity mindset. In my work I've always worried about the next job and trying to get whatever job opportunity is in front of me because I don't know if tomorrow will bring another job. It's one of the worst things about running your own business and part of the reason that I think business owners are a bit more conservative. They are more in tune with the natural law of the wild and I think that aligns more with at a conservative mindset. That is, there are no guarantees in life. Be happy with what you have. Do the responsible thing and save because a rainy day could always be around the corner. When you are an employee, your mindset is very different. You have much more security. Your thoughts aren't about where your next paycheck (customer) is coming from, it's about how your job could offer more benefits, etc. I think the employee mindset is more aligned with the left and the employer mindset is more aligned with the right. Couple the mindset shift with things like writing a check every quarter to the government (as opposed to automatic deductions every two weeks...which you don't even really see anymore because of auto deposit) and it's no wonder that the self-employed tend to skew conservative. Of course there's also self-selection bias there....maybe you're less likely to go out on your own if you have a leftist mindset in the first place. It's also interesting that some of the most secure people in their positions are tenured college faculty and they also tend to be very highly Democratic. Hmm.
  • Anyway, I've been trying to shift my mindset from one of worrying about where the next customer is coming from, to one of abundance...thinking the best of future business prospects, rather than the worst. We've kept busy regardless of how many people we've had - from 0 to 4 people working under me in the field and haven't done any marketing for years, so maybe it's time to worry less about how many jobs are out there. Instead, maybe we should worry about finding the jobs we want, rather than just filling the calendar. We'll see how that goes and if I can be right about the macroeconomic situation and also not foolish to believe that this new mindset is a good way to run a business.
  • I remember voting yes on the high speed rail proposition in 2007-ish when it was on the ballot. My thinking was 1) it's going to take longer and cost more than they say, but 2) it'll be great when it's done anyway. It's increasingly looking like I was wrong on that second point and I underestimated just how much #1 was going to be true. This is the kind of thing that I think Democrats, Democrat apologists, and big government allies have to answer to. California is the natural result of the policies that those people support and high speed rail is one of those programs that those people love (including me at one time). And yet here we are. It's 10+ years in the making and we have essentially nothing to show for it. At some point you need to be able to point to things that work if you're going to be an ally for a certain position. So, if you have Democratic rule in a city or state for 20-50 years like it is in CA and many large cities, and yet you have rampant homelessness, crime, income inequality, etc. then your ideas have to answer to that. Of course it goes for the other side as well, but you already knew that part.
  • Somewhere along the way there came this idea that if you can make it in NYC you can make it anywhere. I think it would be much harder to make it in most rural locations than in NYC. Maybe at one point NYC didn't have a robust social safety net. Maybe it was more edgy and dangerous. But these days it's got every resource imaginable and it's easier than ever to access those resources because of the internet. I'd argue that NYC is one of the easiest places to "make it" in the country. Sure, it's expensive, but the minimum wage is high and there are just a million opportunities. If you burn one bridge you've got a million other options. If you become disabled then there are resources to help and a million other jobs you can still do if you have the wherewithal. I'd just rather be a poor black kid with below average intelligence in NYC than in rural Alabama. That already disadvantaged kid would definitely be able to make a living in NYC if he worked hard. The same is not true in rural AL. Look into the rural vs. urban divide and you'll see this is a big issue in a lot of ways.
  • Apparently there are many anti-rioting laws that are being proposed by Republicans. They run the gamut from defining riots to have an add-on penalty for rioting while doing some other crime. On the Media podcast had their panties in a bunch over this, as did several other outlets. The main arguments seemed to be that it was a violation of the first amendment and that there's no need to add a riot designation to bolster pre-existing laws that already outline illegal behavior like assault or vandalism. They complained that it was too nebulous and subjective. I find this second point to be pretty hilarious since these are the same people who are so adamant about hate crime laws being necessary.
  • What's the deal with hate crimes? Why do we need a separate designation for intent behind an already illegal action? If I beat someone up should it matter that I'm doing it because I don't like their religion? It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If I beat someone up to take their money and then I call them a kike does that make it worse? Plus, it gets into a dicey area about intent and that seems really tough to ajudicate. I think I'm going to stay consistent on this one - we don't need anti-riot add ons anymore than we need hate crime add-ons.
  • I listened to Chuck Schumer on the Ezra Klein podcast the other day. He has an imaginary middle class couple that he always thinks about when he's thinking about new legislation or current economic trends, etc. This is very nice of him to think about the middle class, however it's absolutely hilarious that he needs to concoct a fictional couple and come up with a story about them and think about what they might think about laws he's thinking about passing. He has access to the actual opinions of thousands of actual middle class couples and yet he finds himself making up fake ones and inferring their opinions based upon whatever is in his head at the time. I mean, you can't make this shit up. The guy is legitimately retarded. Just have some middle class friends for once in your life, Chuck. Or maybe ask a constituent what they're thinking once in a while for fuck's sake.
  • Democrats support George W. Bush at 51% today. It was 11% when he left office. What the hell is wrong with these people? W may have been worse than Trump, but they have a short memory. The guy was dog shit in a suit. Yeah, he danced with Michelle Obama or whatever, BFD. He's basically a mass murderer for fuck's sake.
  • Reply All is a good podcast overall, but it's become a woke fiasco the last year or so. Most recently it was in the news because it turned out they're not as woke as they claim and they were doing a story on another toxic workplace culture when it was revealed that maybe they shouldn't be ones to talk. What a mess. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
  • Have you heard of the problem solvers caucus in congress? Probably not. You have to ask yourself why you haven't or, if you have, why you haven't heard about it more. This is why the media is complicit in the downfall of our society and worse than W or Trump or Koch or Mercer or any of the rest of the individual morons you may hate. Instead of focusing on people who are working to solve issues in a bipartisan way, you hear about Schumer wearing Kente cloth and McConnell being a douche bag. The media could focus on the efforts of these 56 members for an entire week, but instead they've historically been happier to parse Trump's latest tweet from the toilet. The mainstream media are worthless.
  • An issue that comes up every once in a while is the issue of free tampons. As part of a public toilet situation I think it makes sense. You give free TP, so it would be nice to give free tampons and pads as well. There's precedent and it makes sense. Same could be said for poor women in shelters, for example. However, as a matter of public policy to just pay for tampons makes no sense to me whatsoever. It smacks of the kind of "more free shit" thinking that we get these days. Under what logic does it make sense to provide free tampons to women (er, sorry, I mean people who menstruate)? An aside about this - because some trans activists are very particular, this is legitimately how we are supposed to talk about this issue. Not all women menstruate - and we're not just talking about menopausal women - we're talking about women who were born with dicks who can't menstruate, so let's be sensitive. No, I'm not making this up, I'm not that creative. Anyway, what is the precedent or analog for paying for tampons? I just don't see it. We don't pay for TP and everyone uses that. We do pay for free condoms and needles so maybe you could say that? I'm not sure where the free stuff ends. This is the slippery slope (remember, it's not a fallacy). This is something people actually want and think they deserve for simply existing.
  • There has to be a test to determine what gets paid for and what doesn't. If we do it on a case by case basis then we'll just slowly work our way down the line paying for everything until the political contingents get so small that they don't have any pull. So what's the test? If you say that tampons should be free because without tampons there's a public health crisis then TP has to be next. And toothpaste. And toothbrushes. And band-aids. And and and...At some point there have to be women willing to stand up and say "no thanks, I can take care of myself thank you very much." To do otherwise is to be anti-feminist in my view. Women are so weak and unable to care for themselves that they need a provider. It used to be their dad or husband and now it's Uncle Sam. Is that what we want?
  • Since I'm digging my grave on the women vs. men front today, I may as well continue.
  • You can't say that men are rapacious and brutal capitalists on the one hand and then complain that women make less overall. If men are brutal capitalists who have less empathy and are implicitly worse people, but better capitalists then that's the cost of making more money. In this system (according to the people who make these claims) the men are making more money because of their attributes and capitalism. If you want women to make more then have them adopt the same attributes. You can't sit on your high horse and claim moral superiority and be virtuous, but also make the same money. Life is about trade offs.
  • I think I've fleshed this out before, but suffice it to say that the gender wage gap that Obama talks about ("women make 22% less than men for the same work") is an utter lie. The same work wage gap is in the single digits depending upon what your source is. And the gap is almost entirely a result of having kids. You can see this, in part, by looking at lesbians who don't take a year off to have kids, for example. But it's a useful lie so the narrative continues.
  • If I'm steel manning the argument I'd say that capitalism doesn't leave room for things like raising kids and that disproportionately hurts women (mostly because of biology and individual decisions, but still) so capitalism needs to be reformed to make that better. Unfortunately it's harder to have the discussion when the one being proffered instead is based on lies.
  • In the last year you've probably heard more about Tuskegee than normal. Here's how the conversation goes, and I've heard it at least a dozen times on NPR type programs: "The vaccine rollout is going well, but we really need to reach out to Black communities which are vaccine hesitant, and rightfully so because of Tuskegee and things like that." I've heard an argument almost exactly like this many times by now. They always mention Tuskegee and they never mention another example of why the Black community is justifiably vaccine hesitant. One woman mentioned in an interview that her doctors didn't take her seriously, but that's the closest I've heard to fleshing out the "and things like Tuskegee" part of the argument. So, if you know of other cases like Tuskegee, let me know. I have very little faith in the government so I wouldn't doubt it, but it's odd that they never mention anything else.
  • Speaking of Tuskegee...the reason this is so egregious is that the government doctors had a policy of using Black people for their experiments for so many years. It was a total of 600 men. It was a failure of the medical community and the government. But black men in particular are seen as disposable so they did what they did. Another example of men being disposable is the Titanic. If you were a 3rd class passenger and female you have a 50/50 chance of living (92 died, 87 lived). If you were a 3rd class male passenger then the ratio was a wee bit worse (389 died, 62 lived). Overall, 1345 men died out of 1669, that's 80.5% of men died vs. 25.6% of women. The stats I have don't break the children down by gender for some reason. Tragically 49 of 115 children died. 1st class 137 out of 141 women lived. 1st class 56 out of 174 men lived. So, regardless of class, men were much more likely to die.
  • Meryl got her first shot of the vaccine the other day, I still haven't.
  • 78% of people hospitalized or dead from COVID were obese or overweight. Hm, I wonder if this has anything to do with our poor outcomes relative to other countries.
  • What are the chances somebody with COVID must be hospitalized? Think about it for a minute...zero? 1-5%? 6-10%? 11-19%? 20-49%? 50% and up? Here's where we get to see how accurate your perception is of the issue. How does the media you consume shape your answer here and if you get this wrong are you going to demand better from your media sources? The answer is 1-5%. 41% of Democrats answered 50% and up. 28% of Democrats answered 20-49%. So, 69% of Democrats thought it was 4-10+ times worse than it actually is. 10% of Democrats got the answer right. 26% of Republicans got the answer right. Why? Because Democrats are the party of science? Oops. Because Republicans are so much smarter than Democrats? No, because of the news they consume.
  • I'm fortunate to remember this same kind of misinformation coming around 9/11 when Republicans were asked questions about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, etc. They all watched FOX and so they were horribly misinformed. Now, the shoe is on the other foot.
  • Garbage in, garbage out. Unless you were close on that question, I don't think you can be at all smug. We should all have some humility even though most of us leftists were laughing at the idiots 17 year ago who didn't know the basic answers about Iraq and WMD.
  • George Floyd has a bunch of stuff named after him now apparently. I mean...he didn't really do anything. Are we allowed to be honest about the guy? He wasn't a saint. He didn't seek to be a martyr. He didn't stand up against oppression or anything. He was tweaking out and he died because a cop (at least one) was a piece of shit who was posturing for the crowd. I don't see how that makes you worthy of having a town square (among other things) named after you. It's the ultimate sign in a time when being a victim is a badge of honor - get a landmark named after you for no reason other than you were victimized by someone. I'm not a fan.
  • I see the same sort of sentiment in other places as well. Saw a sign the other day that said we should never forget 1/6/2021. Why? 9/11, never forget. Why do we want to remember the times when something bad happened? Importantly, it's not that we're remembering our reaction to the thing...it's remembering the thing itself. Remembering the Alamo at least was remembering how the few fought against the many. It's inspirational on some level. But remembering 1/6/21 or 9/11? Remember that time you got punched in the dick and were crying on the sidewalk for 10 minutes! Yeah, makes a lot of sense.
  • I used to like Ellen Page a lot. But now I just see her as a fraud or, at best, someone who is mentally unwell. When she came out on Ellen's show she claimed to be so happy and she could finally be who she is and all that. Everyone pretty much knew it already, but whatever, you're gay and out - good for you. Now she says she's a boy and claims she's known she was a boy since age 5. In the Oprah interview she really comes off as supremely unhappy and unwell still. I think this is going to be a Kirstie Alley type situation where she's up and down - not with her weight, but with her mental wellness and overall happiness. I don't see good things in the future.
  • One proposed fix to the SCOTUS is to implement term limits for SC justices. If people really believe in this idea then they should try to get it passed when Breyer retires under Biden's administration (likely this year). Otherwise you're just a bullshit artist. Either it's a good enough idea to start now or it's just bullshit. "Hey guys I think we should jump off this bridge, but you guys should do it first." vs. "Hey guys I think we should jump off this bridge and I'll be the first to do it."
  • Same goes for the unity talk. You can't give a victory speech and call for unity. Of course the winner wants everyone to unite behind him/her. Do it when you lose. Lose to Trump and say, hey he's our president and I look forward to working with the guy. Otherwise it's just more bullshit talk from a bunch of phonies.

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    5/1/21 (14:23)

  • This is an old one, but it may be my favorite meme.