Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Outlawing gay marriage by voting yes on Prop 8 will be seen as absurd and indefensible in 30 years as supporting segregated black and white schools in the 50's does now.

Every society makes mistakes that are absolute crystal clear in retrospect, like slavery.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I really hate it when math book authors say that something is trivial or obvious. If it wasn't obvious to you, then it only serves to make you feel stupid. If it was obvious, then it only serves to make you feel superior for a brief moment (compared to a stupider imaginary person, I guess). (And if it was truly obvious, then why say it at all?)

I think this is rooted in a deep insecurity to always have an answer, to always appear like you're on your game. (Why did evolution give us this weakness? Acting this way must have been useful for some survival reason.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Naughty games

I can't be the only one who sees the the application to doing a porn game with this tech. If I was more of a pure capitalist, I would think about working on something like that, but I am constrained by my Quaker upbringing, or more honestly, the fear of telling people what I did for a living.

Financial quote of the day

We refused to touch credit default swaps. It would be like buying insurance on the Titanic from someone on the Titanic.

-- Nassim Taleb

Friday, October 10, 2008

Letters from Norman Mailer

I don't know whether I'm fucking up sometimes or if I just keep going things will be beautiful, but I hear this man clearly:

I’m rather depressed these days. It’s been years since anything I’ve done has turned out successfully—with a few rare exceptions—and I’m falling into the thing which afflicted you a couple of years ago—a failure of the will, shall we say. My ambitions seem far beyond my talents, and light-years beyond the vicissitudes of my character, and I think of this enormous novel I’m now starting, which could well take ten years, and if done properly, it must be unpublishable except in green-backed French “dirty” editions, and I’ll be middle-aged when it’s done, and somehow I just don’t believe in myself the way I used to, and indeed, worst of all, it doesn’t even seem terribly important. I’m beginning to have the tolerance of the defeated—people I would have despised a few years ago now seem bearable—after all, I say to myself, I haven’t done very well with all the luck I had, and perhaps I do wrong to judge them. Naturally these states proliferate. The desire to work recedes, and as it recedes one welcomes the depression of not working which increases the difficulty to begin work again, and it gets to be a drag.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

If you are not a very nice person in your every day life, but do great things, you will be forgiven by history. Einstein was not very good to the women he lived with, but that is not the popular memory of him. Shakespeare and Buddha both left their wife and child (whether that makes them selfishly bad or not I don't know).

Happy accidents

There are no happy accidents in programming like there are in art. When I'm doodling, I make a little thumbnail sketch with random lines and my imagination somehow sees a person standing there, in much more detail than I could bring out if I tried to draw it in a large size. In programming, if something is working correctly and you don't know why, you're about to experience something unpleasant.

Fat airborne nuns

Feel free to steal that for the name of your band.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I wish I could take a pill that would make me delusional for a year and make me believe that I would accomplish everything I wanted to do and give me all this energy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I was out walking tonight and at one point I turned around to see a guy on a bike, pedaling slowly. I didn't really give it a thought and kept walking and a few minutes later I hear a sound behind me. I don't turn around because I expect him to pass me, like now. He doesn't pass me and I turn around and he asks, "Where do you live?". I didn't understand his accent at first. Then, "Where are you going?" and next, "Are you married?" The guy has a weird look on his face, a big nervous smile that doesn't really conceal that he wants something. I am still walking and he is trailing slightly behind. Then, "Are you gay?" I told him I didn't understand, then he says "Are you bi?" I say "No. Are you?", he smiles and says "No." At this point, I just want out, but I continue to walk towards the stop light ahead and into a well lit (but empty) parking lot, where he continues to follow me. I turn around 180 degrees and give a curt wave, like "hey, I'm going this way, I don't want to be around you, but have a nice night." He turns around and follows me back the way we came and then later crosses the street on his bike, away from me.

On my way back, he appears again, waiting for me. "My friend, where are you going?" He had raced down the street, and crossed back over to my side. I kept walking past and stared at him and said, "That's none of your business. I don't know you." and kept walking.

I walked a different way home and was all eyes to see if he was waiting for me. While I was writing this blog post, all the lights and power went out. I was paranoid enough not to shut down the absurd thought that it was possible he cut the power and was now going to break into my room and rape me. (Thankfully, at this moment, I am still untouched.)

Just skin tingly creepy. I understand why women don't walk alone at night.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Introduce some feedback here

Why isn't there a TV screen behind the candidates during the debates that would display the result of fact checking, while the debate is happening? That would put some pressure on candidates not to lie so much or at least to triple check their facts. These guys are able to spit out garbage during a debate and don't seem to mind being called a liar the next day, but I'd bet they'd feel shame about being called out at the time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why the hell are people buying US Treasuries at 1% when they could just put the money in a HSBC savings account for 3%? I don't get it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Doing a startup by yourself is like cleaning toilets for a year, alone.
One messed up thing about life is that you pretty much need to distribute condoms along with food to keep people who don't have enough to eat from making more starved people. Keeping people alive and preventing future ones from being born...

Is this the best of all possible worlds?

If/when this financial bailout gets enacted and the economy doesn't go into a severe depression and we started hearing from pundits, "Well, if we hadn't enacted the bailout it could have been much worse", you can also say it could have been much better. There are alternatives (that I'm not fit to really evaluate) such as bank nationalization and WaMu style speed-bankruptcies coupled with private money.

Update: I'm embarrassed that I wrote about bank nationalization and "WaMu style speed-bankrupticies" when I clearly don't understand those things. I have run a cheese grater down my face as penance.