I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you're out there
Without care,
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy
Does that make me crazy
Does that make me crazy

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that's my only advice

Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are,
Ha ha ha bless your soul
You really think you're in control

Well, I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to Lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it's no coincidence I've come
And I can die when I'm done

Maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're crazy

- Gnarls Barkley, Crazy


tragic irony

Mumbai draws the thoughts and concerns of the whole world (well, those with cable news at least). Just like September 11, many around the world speak of feeling a "moment of unity" against terror. People renew their faith. Innocent tourists and civilians killed by rampaging terrorists bent on nothing less than the destruction of society.

No cause or grievance can justify indiscriminate attacks against civilians.
- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

Meanwhile, over in Valley Stream, New York, a crowd of rampaging consumers trampled a Wal-Mart employee to death in order to be the first to get the best deal on stuff they don't need.

Forgive me for pointing out the absurd on a day filled with such dark news.


a reality-questioning weekend

On Friday I went to a screening of Zeitgeist: Addendum (the sequel to Zeitgeist, which I had already seen a while back). Both movies are dark and laden with "consipiracy theories" about how a small elite group is running the world and controlling everyone. Some of the dark stuff is interesting to watch, but mostly it's just scary and depressing, so I'm not sure I really recommend it.


Over the top

All right, Obama won, and it's fun and cool and stuff, but this is just friggin ridiculous.

(...why didn't I think of this sweet arbitrage?)


Barack and Michelle spotted in Jersey City!

I've said before that I can't bring myself to vote for Obama, but dangit sometimes his supporters are so fun and creative. Here's another example.


can't get any shittier

Don't ever think "it can't get any shittier than this". It can.

I was out on a night ride tonight, passion flaring after a highly emotional afternoon. Wandering through a sketchy neighborhood in Jersey City, far from home, I passed by some kids. Suddenly a plastic bag floated out in front of me, then thunk, it landed right on my front tire by the brake. I slowed and stopped. The plastic bag had broken by then, and I discovered it was full of shit. And fresh, smelly shit.

The kids were silent as I managed to wiggle the remains of the bag free and let it fall to the pavement. As I rode away without saying a word, I think one of them said "sorry". I don't even think they meant to hit me.

The shit was caked all over the brake, and it got all over my front tire. It had also splashed on my legs and shirt.

So be careful next time you have a shitty day, and remember, it could get shittier. Literally.



Let's say, hypothetically speaking, that you're a producer of wealth. Let's also say that you are ethically opposed to foreign occupations your government is involved with. Finally, and this is another BIG hypothetical, let's say your government imposes a nice hefty income tax on you to fund such activities.

Now. What are your choices, in maintaining your own personal ethical standards? Regardless of what anyone else thinks, or what you think about other people's conduct.

I guess first the basic conflict should be underlined, in case the above hypotheticals didn't make that obvious: you are a nice person who likes to be nice to people, and you don't like hurting people. You don't want your own efforts to go towards enabling the destruction and killing being wreaked by your government. But a significant fraction of every dollar you pay in taxes is going towards that.

Now, let's break it down.

  • Option 1: Don't pay your taxes, and risk imprisonment. If done for these reasons, this could pass as nonviolent protest.

  • Option 2: Pay your taxes, and ignore your conscience. Or don't ignore your conscience completely, but rationalize what you are doing: "it's not my fault" that the government is using my efforts in this destructive fashion. I would guess that most people pick this option, if they bother to think about how their taxes are connected with wars. Would you voluntarily work to give somebody you don't trust the ability to do things you would never do yourself? Probably not. But somehow people get mixed up with the government, even though that's exactly what they're doing.

  • Option 3: Don't produce. Or at least produce the minimum amount possible to survive while legally avoiding taxes as much as possible.

So look at this, and think for a bit about what would be the easiest for you. Option 1 is scary: you face very serious loss of freedom (and what for with our current media)? Option 2 is probably more difficult for some than others, depending on how strong one's convictions are. Option 3 is, well, pretty damn easy for just about anyone.

Is it any wonder why socialism makes countries poorer?

The income tax is just plain unethical. At least, I can see no way around it.

Ron Paul on the income tax: 1 2

Let yourself dream! It doesn't have to be this way..

beautiful fall day

A gorgeous day to sit inside in front of a computer screen, watching the stock market implode.

Days like these I envy my super (whilst enjoying the walk home).


what's so crazy?

what's so crazy
about living in peace
with our neighbors
without a military empire
all over the world?

what's so crazy
about protecting individual rights
and freedom of speech?

what's so crazy
about ending the
and invasive
war on drugs?

what's so crazy
about having a monetary system
that's based in reality
that anyone can understand?

what's so crazy
about at least talking about these things
in the debates for our elected officials?

who's actually crazy here?


world domination

We're on the way to it. Starting with our very own food company!

belated 9-11 commute log

My commute brings me right around the site of the old World Trade Center in downtown NYC. Every year on 9-11, there's some big hubbub. This year I took a few pictures and grabbed a few flyers from my commute experience, which I'm sharing here.


bailout reading

Here is the source for a lot of what I'm reading on the bailout. It's the most consistent explanation I've come across. It breaks things down without getting caught up in fuzzy abstract things that are all mysterious.

Warning: you may find that reading this carefully and with an open mind is a lot like taking the red pill. Best to be well grounded in preparation. I'm not kidding.

wamu shrine

On the way home tonight I passed by the local Washington Mutual branch. It was late, so it was closed of course, and there was this memorial someone had constructed on the corner of the building, complete with candles and personal messages. I thought it was pretty funny.


real debate

Both major presidential candidates support the bailout. All the third party candidates oppose it. Our debate doesn't include this issue, and it's pretty fucking important. The lesser-of-evils choice we're presented is looking more and more transparent..


more fear mongering

Bush Tries to Scare Congress into Giving Him More Authority Again.

Section 8. Review: Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency. [from Paulson's proposed legislation]

WMDs in Iraq. Eep! Attack!

(a few bazillion dollars later) where'd the WMDs go?

Subprime Mortgages will destroy our entire economy. Eep! Bailout!

(a few bazillion dollars later) where'd all our wealth go?

Maybe the media isn't really giving us the other side of the story.


reliable investments

In this economic environment, what I'm looking for is a reliable investment.

the truth can wait

Commentary on this article from the ny times.

Paulson's argument: the government has to act now to prop up the markets, whether or not it has a clue what it's doing. Remember the tragic passage of the Patriot Act? Amongst dire circumstances and fear, the government grabs some power from its citizens that it'll never willingly let go of. That time it was civil liberties, this time it's financial liberties.

"This is a critical debate for another day," Mr. Paulson said.

Here's my favorite:

President Bush said, "There will be ample opportunity to debate the origins of this problem. Now is the time to solve it."

That goes to show how different he and I think. How the hell are you going to solve the problem without understanding something about where it comes from? It turns out, what you're doing to "solve" the problem may well be making it worse.

"Our system of free enterprise rests on the conviction that the federal government should interfere in the marketplace only when necessary [a.k.a whenever I say so]," the president said. "Given the precarious state of today's financial markets --- and their vital importance to the daily lives of the American people --- government intervention is not only warranted, it is essential."

As one of my coworkers is fond of saying this week: we now live in communist Russia! Fuck it, lets move to Russia where we're at least open about the fact that we're communists.

As Ron Paul is fond of saying lately: Congress might as well go home, since they're not appropriating the money anymore --- that would be too old-fashioned. In these modern times, the fed and treasury just print and spend it directly!

night at the grocery

I go to the grocery in the afternoon. Organic produce section. Loads of plums and peaches, without clear pricing as usual. I load up on both, head to the dairy section, then checkout. When I get my receipt: organic plums, $1.49/lb. I got 3.53 lb for only $5.26. 16 plums. Sweet! I have to go back and really load up, and freeze 'em for the off season!

It's 11:50pm, and I'm outside the apartment bringing the bike inside. Wait, I was going to get those plums! Thank God I live in America, the grocery is bound to be open.

Cool breeze washes over me as I zoom to the grocery store. Forget locking up the bike, there's nobody here to steal it at this hour. Peek at the hours: what's this? Closes at midnight? That leaves me 5 minutes. Go inside, hand on the shopping basket, vector planned: straight to plums, then checkout line. "Attention shoppers, the store is now closing, please head to checkout." I'll only need a minute to fill up a bag and head to checkout, but wait---dang! no wallet.


Tomorrow, plums, you shall be mine!


a personal peek inside ye olde communism

An acquaintance of mine was telling me yesterday all about his experience with communism. He grew up in communist Poland and managed to escape when he was fairly young (his sister came later, mother not).

Here are a couple of interesting bits of emphasis he put on his experiences and those of his family:



Ah, political season is clearly here.

Reminds me of the ol' JibJab video of Kerry and Bush last time around. A wee bit of criticism for this one: there are some parts where it's hard to make out what they're saying.


Milton Friedman on Limited Government

This video touches on a lot of critical ideas that seem to be missing from the politics of today. I think a lot of people who consider themselves educated haven't really considered this perspective very seriously.


Professor Friedman let me ask you what may turn out to be a long and rather convoluted question. You've said that the objectives of the people who have created social security programs, the people who want to provide for the aged, who want to provide for the poor, who want to achieve objectives that have been identified with minimum wage and social security, that the objectives were valid and you share them. Now, if you share them, how would you have achieved those objectives?

Friedman: The only way you can achieve them. In my opinion, which is by voluntary cooperative action. You see I think there's been one underlying basic fallacy in this whole set of social security and welfare measures. And that is the fallacy --- this is at the bottom of it --- the fallacy that it is feasible and possible to do good with other people's money. Now you see that view has two flaws. If I'm going to do good with other people's money I first have to take it away from them. That means, that the welfare state philosophy of doing good with other people's money, at it's very bottom, is a philosophy of violence and coercion. It's against freedom, because I have to use force to get the money. In the second place, very few people spend money as carefully as they spend their own [...]

How are we ever going to achieve peace and prosperity through violence and coercion? It doesn't make any sense, sillies!

nObama for me

Some reasons not to vote for either of the major presidential candidates this year:

  • War. This was the one reason I considered supporting Obama after Ron Paul dropped out. I figured a strong anti-war stance was the most important issue to me. Since then I've discovered: Obama has voted repeatedly to fund the war in Iraq. He wants to put more troops in Afghanistan, and "do something" about Darfur. And he's an imperialist---nowhere in his platform does he discuss any substantive foreign policy changes, such as withdrawing troops from Germany, Japan, Korea, or anywhere else around the world (we have 700ish bases, I think). In fact, he only seems to differ from the Republicans in small details about where to put troops, and rhetoric about diplomacy.

  • Economy. Have the Republicans got any better position on that? Let's see, there's some disagreement over taxation: one party says the highest bracket should be 34%, and the other 38%. Real big difference there! As far as big bailouts and the fed, both sides seem pretty much the same there---pro-bailouts, pro-fed. Looking at the voting record of both candidates, there's little hope for any reduction in spending.

  • Freedom. Well, civil liberties in particular. Since 9-11, these have been getting flushed down the toilet disturbingly quickly. We've seen the suspension of Habeus Corpus, illegal search & seizure, and freedom of speech trodden all over (remember the "freedom of speech zones?"). How do the two candidates measure up here? There's not much point in looking at differences: both support the Patriot act, both supported the FISA bill. Neither even mentions civil liberties on their website's list of "issues". Yet many of the people I talk to identify this as one of their greatest concerns.

  • Energy. Both stand by the ridiculous notion that the government is going to somehow buy our way out of our energy woes, by spending a bunch of money on some particular technology. They differ greatly of course: McCain is for expanding domestic oil production, and Obama's for "clean coal". How's that for choices.

The media has managed, as they usually do, to turn this thing into a horse race where "differences" between the candidates are magnified until we lose sight of what a real choice would look like. And somehow people have been fooled into holding their nose and voting for the least-bad candidate out of fear of "wasting their vote". I think that's rather backwards: wasting your vote is voting for one of the two major party candidates.



confused. unable to make decisions. think i can make a decision, but then when that decision leads to the next decision, i'm frozen again. stuck, frozen. don't know what i want. can see many possibilities, but don't know which road to take. limbo.

the world won't wait for me to make up my mind. if i don't make it up, i'm choosing something. forks go by and i choose a route whether i do it consciously it or not. i am aware of the forks passing, but i can't figure out how to evaluate one route versus the other. i just don't fucking know, and don't have time to figure it out. coin flip?


farewell, old friend

I've had this backpack since high school. It's had zipper problems for over a year, and now it's worn a hole through the bottom. I guess this probably seems trivial to most people -- throw it out and get a new one. But that's not something that I do very often with my personal stuff. (I'm all into wabi-sabi).

Into the garbage with ye!


the popcorn

that's right, 36 pounds of it! my tummy hurts just thinking about it (or is that from the gigantic bowl I just finished eating..?)

zero gravity!

5000 bucks will buy you 7-8 minutes of zero gravity via parabolic flight. Neat.


how strong are you?

are you ready to go crazy? what does that mean? how about letting go of your inhibitions and letting the nonsense that's inside flow on out? you're just a transient quantum energy bubble anyway, so why take yourself so seriously? your existence is because of a whole bunch of random events. logic and reason make no sense.

you're just a crazy fuck that can neither love or be loved; too selfish, not to mention crazy. can you write crazy and not be crazy? apart is together. war is peace. freedom is slavery.

how about Cincinnati? predictable? less lonely for sure. lonely. maybe that's all there is to togetherness, and it doesn't really matter who what or when, just love the one you're with, Stephen Stills. why wait? today you are alive, right now you feel how you do, and there's no telling how you'll feel tomorrow.

oh wait. cause & effect. it sure seems to exist. sometimes it can even be harnessed into happiness. but is it just an illusion? swim around in random bullshit goo of "how i feel right now" or submit to a greater external framework of cause & effect? cause & effect: hurt (cause) implies various defensive measures (effect), such as fight or flight. can random goo and cause & effect both and neither exist? just somewhere in between? isn't that just saying that random goo wins? Shinji-kun!

and so, punk, sometimes it seems like freedom exists, and you'd better step up to the fucking plate and take some responsibility. don't be a dick. look in from the outside once in a fucking while. if you decide cause & effect doesn't exist, that's fine but you'd better be ready for the effects of that decision. or maybe not, cheater.


Sarah Palin Gender Card

I'm no liberal, and yet. It is imperative that you see this:

a bird

I had an unusual experience this morning. I was walking to work in the usual way, somewhere near Broad and Wall streets in downtown Manhattan. All the usual things were happening; horns honking, people selling newspapers, construction, and lots of commuters like me hurrying off to their desk jobs. And then..

A bird chirped.

My immediate thought was, "whoa, I guess spring is here now!". This thought was followed by, "no wait, it's the end of summer. Huh."

I guess that we don't get a lot of birds here in downtown Manhattan, because it really caught my attention. The bird (or birds, I never saw it/them) chirped a few more times while I was on my way, as if to rub it in.

Hello, I work in an urban, natureless, city-place.



Also known as roughly the greatest Star Trek TNG episode ever. Everyone's memory is erased, so they don't know who they are or their relationship to each other. But they still have their basic character, and you can see how this plays out without the limitations imposed by their preexisting relationships with each other. It's very well done---I didn't notice any times when people acted as though they had a memory.

All the elements of a great Star Trek episode are present: Data being super analytical about his situation, analyzing all possible origins of himself completely objectively; Worf being a super badass battle-focused Klingon; and Riker getting it on with two women only to be shot down by both once their memories return.

It really sucked me in and got me thinking like I would if my memory wasn't there. Feels kinda like it would be liberating, or something. I'm too sleepy to think hard about why I found this profound, so you'll just have to trust me, it was :P.



man, I'm weird.



night o' film

First, we've got Look Around You (thanks xwjl), which I'm sure lots of geeks who are paying more attention know about. Anyway, if you're in a british humor type of mood, this is pretty whacked, and there's lots of it.

Then we've got a brief Barack Obama interlude:

And it's time to settle into some star trek.

sweet, sweet gym

so easy to forget what a little exercise can do for the mind. especially when it's all screwed up.



Dear world,

I am fucked.

Every time I think I'm okay, I wake up at 2am and realize what has happened to my world. This is NOT OK.



what is phauna.org?

I created a page about what this site is (hint: it's not about software viruses!).



my normal approach is useless here

Thanks xkcd!

I would go so far as to say it's not just useless, but actually harmful.

pain is

realizing that everything I thought I was is wrong
realizing that I've been hurting the person most important in my life
feeling grief built up over many years all come out at once
being afraid of myself



Ah, the timely nature of the fortune program:

"In real love you want the other person's good. In romantic love you want the other person."

-- Margaret Anderson


Dick Cheney in '94

I don't usually consider moveon.org a particularly reputable source of information, but I came across this video there after some random browsing led me to the site. It's kind of remarkable how well Dick Cheney describes the reasons invading Iraq is a bad idea, and how correct he was.

times like these

times like these you feel very sorry for every mean thing you've ever done
times like these you feel sorry every time you were not compassionate at someone else's pain
times like these you cry just seeing a perfect stranger going about his ordinary business
times like these you love everyone except yourself
times like these you swear you'll never look down at anyone else's pain again
times like these are too easy to forget

Close it off?

Closing off would stop the pain. I could just tighten up, try hard, and tell myself it's not meant to be and keep my feelings to myself. Heck, maybe I'd get over it.

I don't want to. I don't want to be alone. And I truly believe there's something special there, that won't be found easily again (well, what I actually feel like saying is "can never be found"). So I choose pain and love, at least for now. How long will it keep up?

Why...? Why.. why.


What's going on?

What is happening? Why is it happening? What am I doing? What should I do?

I feel so alone. Dreadfully alone.

Is there a bottom to the grief?

A picture, it's kinda how I feel right now (after the crying):



  1. think

  2. get confused and tense

  3. if unlucky, act on #2, and do or say something stupid

  4. cry

  5. love

  6. if lucky, act on #5

  7. goto #1

ATB-Stars come out

Thanks again Eunice. I'm trying to see the stars coming out. Maybe you are one of them, and Mom, and wjl. And the deep feelings of love that I'm discovering I've always had but never known. Even if she won't accept it, it's still there.


Ah, to be young, alive..

..madly in love, and totally confused. When was the last time you felt like an adolescent all over again? We look back on our adolescence and say "it was hard, but now I'm wiser for it." Ha ha, if life has in store for you the magic sauce that it does for me, you'll eat those words.


world, you rock my world

world, you rock my world.

if this were your last day on earth

If this were your last day on earth, how would you go about relating to people, what would you tell your family, what risks would you take?

This is a quote from my current hero Eunice Chen on facebook (hope it's okay that I link here Eunice!). It's powerful stuff.

Especially for me. I'm an investor by nature, often thinking/planning for some distant future, or even just the next thing or the next day. Perhaps I'm selling water down by the river, and in 40 years I'll realize that my efforts are entirely without merit.

I guess I can't take the quote too seriously, though. If I took risks like it were my last day on earth, my last day on earth would probably be much sooner :). And there's a certain type of satisfaction that can't be had without giving patience and diligence over a long period of time.

But there's something to be learned by asking yourself that question, at different stages in your life. It certainly poked holes in my reality.

Update: Eunice pointed out that she actually didn't write it and it's from some blog.


First, for xwjl. Thanks for a good old late night talking/hacking session that could not have been more timely. Let's do it more often! There is much work to be done on the masterpiece:

And next, for Mom. Thank you for being aware, in touch, and supportive as you always have been. I love you!


ego = pain

When I was a teenager, I had a party at my house. We had been drinking, then everyone went to bed. Feeling serene (and not a little drunk), I decided it was a good idea to go out on the roof and watch the sunrise. It was around dawn, so there was a lot of dew on the roof, but my drunken judgment said I would be fine if I held on to the window.


Does anyone else feel like when they write out their feelings like this, it's so inadequate that they just wish they hadn't? The urge in me to delete is very strong, but I'm trying not to be such a sissy for once.

so many fears

An inadequate attempt to broadcast a few of my fears, so they might stop eating me up quite so much.


How's this for fucked up? I don't believe in shame, but I feel ashamed.

I feel like I've let down family, and let down myself. I should have been paying more attention, keeping it together. I was blind. And if it's not because of me, then I should have known better to begin with.

Think of a time when you were really vocal about something, and strong in your defense of it. Then you turned out to be totally wrong. And maybe you hurt someone along the way. Then stretch it out---imagine you were pigheaded for a really long time, like years. Then it came to light just how much of a dufus you really are. How do you feel now, jackass?

what the hell happened to me?

A month ago the prospect of me being possessive, defensive, and closed was out of character. My philosophy is clear: people stay with each other because they choose to, not because they have to. To cling to the way things "should be" is just asking for pain.

So what the hell happened? Why does it feel so wrong to just let go?


but Paul Simon's pretty good at them

And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow

It's rare to find words that really resonate like these. Especially "blown apart". Just thinking about those words brings laughter and tears all at the same time, because it just feels so accurate.

There's this later part in the same song (Graceland, by the way), which made more sense this time around than it has ever before:

There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself the human trampoline
And sometimes when I'm falling, flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Whoa, so this is what she means
She means we're bouncing into Graceland

words are limited


going crazy, part 2

So I talked about "going crazy" as if it was this great thing that I was working on. When I was a teenager, I was thinking I could always go crazy if things got too bad (as an alternative to suicide and continuing to put up with the pain). Right now, the thought has occurred in much the same fashion, but it doesn't feel nearly so simple as it did in my memory. It feels a little more like running away now, as in if it gets too bad I can always quit my life and run away somewhere else and do something else. But what if "whereever I go, there I will be" as the wisdom goes---depending on what I'm running from, I can't actually get away? So this option, like everything else, seems a lot less straight forward now, when the world is falling down around me.

I apologize to the gentle reader for the arrogance of my previous post on the matter.

and the world spins

It spins and reels and turns upside down. The earth comes out from underneath. There's nothing quite like it. From the outside, looking in on the one being spun, it always looks so much simpler; that's because to the observer, the world is pretty much staying put, just the spinner is spinning. When you're the one spinning, you don't have the luxury of greater perspective.

It's very difficult to make decisions when the world spins. When your reference points are constantly shifting, you don't know how to get there from here, or even which way you want to get, for that matter.

I thought I was making decisions based on some system, but once things didn't turn out how I wanted them to, can I trust that system? And I've never been one to trust someone else's system. That leaves me with an open question: how the hell to make any decisions at all and trust in them? Even basic ones like whether to get out of bed in the morning. Go with the flow, keep options open? What if you don't even trust that you know which decision will keep options open?

There's little question about whether or not I'm alive, though. Feelings have an incredible way of pointing that little fact out.


Driving & Investing

The active approach
diving in and out
trying to get ahead

sometimes it works
sometimes it fails
sometimes it fails badly

The passive approach
staying the course
accepting the status quo

active ones maintain
passive ones maintain

when the shit
hits the fan


Dr. Bronner's: new formula?

The new Dr. Bronner's 18-in-1 Hemp PEPPERMINT PURE-CASTILE SOAP I got doesn't look like the old stuff. I have the last little bit of a bottle my mom gave me about 3 years ago, and the color is totally different. Here are some photos:


organic calories per dollar

Organic food is expensive. I decided to look up a few foods I commonly eat to determine which ones are more cost effective.

Organic spinach -- $0.80/ounce, 7 calories/ounce = 9 calories/dollar

Organic zucchini (cooked) -- 80 calories/pound, $1.99/pound = 40 calories/dollar

Organic carrots (raw) -- 175 calories/pound, $1.29/pound = 135 calories/dollar

Organic apple -- about 127 calories per apple, at $1.50/pound is $0.74/apple = 172 calories/dollar

Organic yogurt -- 680 calories for $3.89 = 175 calories/dollar

Organic eggs -- 840 calories for $3.70 = 227 calories/dollar

Organic milk -- 1 gallon (2400 calories) for $6 = 400 calories/dollar

Organic peanut butter -- 2700 calories for $5 = 540 calories/dollar

Organic beans (dried): 840 calories/pound, $1.39/pound = 600 calories/dollar

Peanut butter and beans are the winners for density. It turns out peanuts are legumes after all, so perhaps it's no surprise that they are comparable. Greens are like eating water, calorically speaking.


Going Crazy

When I was a teenager, I went through some times that felt difficult. I recall during one particular fit of confusion, thinking "if it gets so much that I just can't take it anymore, I can always go crazy." Whenever suicide came into my thoughts, I never considered it seriously because I had this idea that I could just go crazy instead.

What did I mean by going crazy? I don't know if I really knew then, or if I do for sure now. Some things that I saw others around me doing, like "running away" for a week or so to be alone, or at least self-reliant while being among others, seemed like going crazy. Purposefully not living up to the
expectations of others seemed like going crazy. Just letting go of what I believed was reality into what felt like reality, deep down, was crazy.

Nowadays I believe that my old notion of going crazy is not so crazy at all, in fact it's just another name for being happy. So I work to go crazy every day, and I like to think I'm getting crazier all the time. It's challenging work, letting go, because it takes time, courage, and this wierd kind of effort
that is sort of the opposite of effort. It's easy to get wrapped up in trying to go crazy, when by it's very nature going crazy can not be accomplished through trying, only by letting me be what I am.

Conclusions are for sane people.



Why haven't I been using this all along? It's an online travel search engine, kind of like priceline, expedia, and orbitz, but with important differences:

  • it's free

  • it's sexy and ajaxy

  • it has features like graphs of the best fare over time, so you can see when it makes sense to buy tickets or what the difference would be if you traveled at a different time.

Well, I guess in order to use it I'll have to decide I want to fly again.



the story of stuff

This is a fun video: the story of stuff.

Our current tax structure is not helping anything: we tax income but leave consumption untaxed and pollution not taxed enough. It would certainly reflect my values more, and the values of this video, if we had a consumption tax like the fair tax.

Furthermore, I'm a big fan of hefty taxes for polluters. How else can we get the true cost of stuff to be realized? I'm not as worried about natural resources---they'll start to cost more as they become scarcer (witness oil). But pollution is a cost that everyone's paying in terms of health care and quality of life, and I can't see how the market's going to figure out the price tag for it. Currently, the market's price tag is roughly zero as far as I can tell, and it's because there's no feasible way of enforcing personal property rights over air and water.

To be fair, I can't see the government doing a great job with it either---they usually seem more concerned about tending to the symptoms than figuring out what the problem is (witness "stimulus package", or "health care"). But maybe a stab in the dark in terms of the true price of pollution is better than nothing. If we charge too much, we'll just have less stuff than we could have otherwise, but we'll have clean air, and I could certainly live with that. Couldn't you?


Your Future, Your Choice

Some family of mine sent me this book recently: Your Future, Your Choice: Christian Character in a Changing Economy, by Kerry J. Koller. It's short, and covers the basics of how this guy thinks Christians should relate to money and the economy. Much of it was straight forward---don't have lots of credit card debt, for example. But there were a few interesting ideas that don't show up in other personal-finance type books.


Isn't this called 'fascism'?

As I walked to work this week, these guys from American Express were handing out brochures. Something about the things they were saying ("bypass airport security!") sounded sufficiently confusing to me that I picked up a brochure. It turns out, what they're pitching is this new Clear Card product.


vegetarian sneak attack

Our family consumes a lot of cheese. Before I was vegetarian, we used to buy big loafs of cheese from BJs and consume a couple a week. Nowadays, I buy a whole bunch of these tiny little 8oz cheese blocks that cost a fortune. Furthermore, they cost more than most of the other cheeses of the same size, because I'm buying Cabot. Why? Simply because I'm a softie, and the cheese package says this little bit:

Contains no animal rennet.

I like to think of my actions as part of a great vegetarian sneak attack on the cheese industry. Through the power of our consumer demand, we'll have big loafs of vegetarian cheese yet!


On going to Africa

The other month an old friend from high school contacted me via facebook. I hadn't communicated with her for 8 or 9 years. Anyway, we only messaged once; but I got a chance to look at her profile (and she probably looked at mine). Hers had this interesting bit about how she's going to Africa to volunteer with her church. Which got me thinking, because this sort of idea is interesting to me.


Trust the Market, Not Bureaucrats

The following is most of a letter to the editor in a recent issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette, Penn's Alumni magazine. It was written in response to an article about health care:


war on almonds

As of September 2007, the USDA requires that almonds sold in the US must be pasteurized to eliminate pathogens. That's right, pasteurized, like what you do to milk.

This evidently happened as a result of a salmonella outbreak which got about 100 Canadians sick.


more health care

A few people have emailed or written comments responding to my "socialized medicine is wrong, wrong, wrong" post. I'll address some of these responses here.


du is slow

The du command always takes forever. Couldn't the filesystem cache size information and lazily bubble it up the tree so that it can report disk usage faster?

factcheck for the debates

If you're watching the ABC debates tonight, you may find it tricky to figure out who's speaking the truth and who's full of it. A great time to check out the nonpartisan site factcheck.org. Oh, and google for "romney timetable" to figure out who's telling the truth there (hint: Romney doesn't speak much truth).


wealth redistribution -- numbers

In a previous post, I talked about a replacement for our current welfare system:

Tax everyone an equal percentage, then redistribute that wealth as an equal dollar amount paid to everyone.

Here are a few numbers to get a perspective on how this might stack up against the current system.

how wealth redistribution can actually work

Working in finance, I've met a bunch of rich people. Absurd amounts of money are made on Wall Street, and the work done for it, while it can be hard work, is certainly not proportionally hard. Many of the (relatively) rich people I know recognize this and are fairly warm to the idea of sharing with others. However, some (including myself) are turned off by the system we have today. Here are some observations as to why the current thing doesn't appeal much and an idea for what might work better.