Thursday, December 17, 2009

I can think of no more flimsy basis for a relationship than physical beauty. And women enjoy being noticed for the insanely random multitudes of coinflips that happened at conception (well, men too). I don't know what happened to me because I wasn't like this even 3 years ago, but I cringe a little whenever someone mentions how beautiful his wife is. (The first question you inevitably hear when seeing someone is "Is she pretty?")

If you were God, it would not have been hard to make a more egalitarian world.

(But in sympathy for my fellow human beings, I understand why evolution made physical attraction so powerful. But I don't understand why evolution gave me the ability to countermand that attraction with thought.)

Haha, that awful Nsync song God Must Have Spent a Little More Time On You just came to mind. :)

Or maybe I just need to drink this and become a man again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Stress and neurodegeneration

Terribly compelling video (unfortunately) on how stress makes glucocorticoids and glucocorticoids destroy your neurons + other nastiness. Seems like a downer until the end. (The takeaway here is take care of your mental/emotional life otherwise bad things happen chemistry-wise in your body.) Interesting throughout.

Monday, November 2, 2009

online dating for all the womens out there

If you're a woman on a dating site (and more of you should be, it's a mistake for your life not to be), please fill out your profile with something I can start a conversation about. I need a hook to start a real conversation and for some reason I really dislike starting out with "Hey, how are you?" or "u r hawt, wut's up?"

Give me little bits of something that may be interesting, never that:
1) you like to laugh,
2) your friend is making you do this (we know you're lonely, just like the rest of the human race)
3) you're laid back,
4) you're happy going out or staying in

And listing 40 bands on your profile is a mistake, it's too much text and I skip it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Both young women and middle aged men are punished for their sexuality. And conversely, older women and young men are encouraged.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Exercise vs. Antioxidants

This is pretty crazy but exercise and antioxidants seem to work against each other.
I've been learning about what chemical compounds make food healthy, such as the catechins in green tea. But it's only good to think about health up to a point, since a car could run into me and necrotize all the cells in my legs, and no chemical element would fix that.
It's weird to think that every single atom that makes up me came from somewhere else on the Earth and that my body has just gathered them all up for the moment. And some days from now, those atoms will all be changed out for new ones.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This event reminds me of a case in Russia, when a man brought his wife to hospital and was made to wait as the staff expected a bribe. The wife died, the man went home, took a gun, shot down each one of the staff that refused to treat his wife, and killed himself.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Censorship will be enforced. There will be no talk of shamans, of yoga classes, nutritional values, herbal teas, discovering your Boundaries, and Inner Growth.

-- Werner Herzog, about his Rogue Film School

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am pleased.

--Clive James

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bank of America/Countrywide is now charging me fees to transfer my own money to other accounts. Fantastic. In retribution I'm transferring everything I have with them out.

Less bank consolidation, more competition please.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Incredibly eloquent writing by C.S. Lewis on money and power.

The motives of anyone who desires power over others needs to be questioned. Corruption is not "out there", the seed and the weakness is in all of us, in all moments, but it is possible to guard against its expression. My favorite example of defending against this is the fictional character Maximus in the movie Gladiator. When asked to become emperor of Rome, he is troubled because he dreams of returning home to his wife and child.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I can hear you dying Myspace

I finally added a filter to remove all of MySpace's annoying, desperate emails to "see what my friends are up to."

Build something good, and do not try to monetize your customers for the maximum amount with a screen full of ads. So much of life is about comedy and love for two. Business for another.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The downside of Amazon becoming profitable is that their prices have been creeping up over the years. But you can download a badass little plugin for Firefox named InvisibleHand that will check for lower prices of the item on other sites and display a notification if it finds a better price. Well done.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Blizzard should release numbers on the total development and maintenance budget of WoW in order to deter competitors from making their own MMOs. (Unless the budget happened to be extraordinarily low.) But there would still be entrepreneurs spouting "if we only captured 2% of the market we'd be rich, yada yada."

Monday, August 31, 2009

If we understand little of the absurd complexity of the components of our own bodies, if we are components in the body of God, how much of itself does God understand?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Repeat after me: the world is unfair and I am a piece of shit

Slavery was just outlawed in Mauritania in 2007(!)

(You'll have to listen to this BBC story to understand the title of this post.) I get so angry when I think about stuff like this. On the other hand, I think about whether some girl in a Chinese factory working 14 hours a day so I can have cheap electronics or a migrant worker from Mexico picking strawberries for below US minimum wage is right. I think what makes it not worth worrying about for most people is that the information about working conditions has been lost (e.g. I don't know that my $2.99 strawberries were picked by someone getting paid $2.50 an hour). Recovering this information and exposing it (along with making it easy for people paying below minimum wage to head to prison for a year would do some good).

I love me some good ol' cognitive dissonance.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I never knew about this, I may actually have to think next time I see someone use a statistic.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I feel for the guy who wrote this post. I'm sure he recommends making a special effort not to get on the wrong side of an entity with deep pockets and little regard for the welfare of others.

Restraint is hugely important in many areas of life -- humor for one, relationships for another. I have a low opinion of those who protect their status quo by all means at their disposal. It's weakness.
Short and good article on finance's function in our economy and how well it's doing the job -- and at what cost.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I noticed in my grocery store that the Coinstar machine no longer displays that they take a cut of 8.9%. (I bet a law has been changed, and there is no longer regulation mandating this.) Every time I see someone use one I cringe since someone taking 8.9% off an investment would just be insane. They don't even make sense from an evil economist robot point of view since you're exchanging perfectly good legal tender for less legal tender.

I wish I could legally shake the next person I see using one...and then also lecture them on starting a 401k (and make sure that expense ratio is where it should be).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion."

—Richard Diebenkorn, from “Notes to myself on beginning a painting”

Tiny random factoid

In Indonesia, you could send 1500 text messages for the cost of sending one in the US.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I routinely come across articles mentioning a corrupt politician or salesman, but I've never come across a soul in my life who would consider themselves corrupt. And I bet even those rare few people who have been convicted for the offense do not see themselves as corrupt, or at least no more than any other person.

Maybe everyone deep down knows they have that weakness in them, but they cannot stand the thought of themselves being weak or mildly evil?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I started meditating regularly this year and it still surprises me how good I can feel when I do it well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"I ain't never been lost, but I've been in some mighty strange country for two or three days."

--Daniel Boone (supposedly, at least)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Facebook has probably done more for digital camera sales than anything else I can imagine.
"Do not lose your desire to walk; every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it."

--Mr. Soren Kierkegaard

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The nights have been beautiful here lately in San Juan Capo. I've been sitting outside and watching the stars and moon the past few nights. Lovely.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Psychoanalytic doctrine reveals the pig in man, a pig saddled with a conscience; the disastrous result is that the pig is uncomfortable beneath that pious rider, and the rider fares no better in the situation, since his endeavor is not only to tame the pig but also to render it invisible.

--Stanislaw Lem, His Master's Voice

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I always think it's weird when I see someone who was overweight go on a talk show and show their new self off. I saw a guy say "I don't even recognize the old me" with disdain. And the audience clapped after that statement, and it was a normal clap, but it was also confused and uneasy.

There is something sad about not accepting yourself as you are.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Feynman's Messenger lectures

Bill Gates has purchased Richard Feynman's messenger lectures with his own cash and made them available for everyone. Richard Feynman is one of those rare heroes of mine.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I went online to try and buy the only deodorant I like but my Citi credit card rewards no longer allows me to choose the gift certificates I love. Now instead I can purchase the same items from Citi's rewards site and they'll be fulfilled by amazon. The only problem is that I can pay $17 for a 6-pack with the gift certs, but on Citi's site they now want to charge me the equivalent of $39 (at a "special price" down from $44!) for the exact item, and shipped from the same company! The audacity would be amazing if it wasn't so disgusting.

Capitalizing maliciously on people's ignorance is one of the things I find disgusting about human beings. (But I am also an investor in Citi since Citi is a member of the S&P 500...ugh.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wesley's law

The number of exclamation marks used in a facebook status update is inversely proportional to how exciting the status update actually is.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Frontline: Storm over Everest is phenomenal. Those tents just shake. You can stream the whole thing from Netflix.
It's amusing that you cannot legally discriminate in a workplace, but on dating sites you just check a box that says, "I don't want to talk to black people" and that's completely acceptable. I wonder if there's a checkbox on Indian dating sites for only dating members of certain castes. Or maybe there are few Untouchables that have computers right now, I don't know.

And it's also weird that paying people for sex is illegal, but paying people to have sex if a video camera is there is kosher.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I picture Ben Bernanke having a recurring nightmare where he realizes he still lacks the crucial information on the cause of the Great Depression, but he is pulled into a plane, into a complicated cockpit, and he sits down and discovers that the knob he needs to turn, the mechanism that will fix everything doesn't exist.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2 months ago I went for a solo hike up to San Gorgonio to practice my ice axe skills. I was hiking for a good while and felt quite alone (it was a weekday), until I came across an older hiker coming down. This was bad timing, but just after I noticed him and before I consciously realized how it would look, I was reaching to unsheathe my ice axe from my backpack. I'm fairly certain it looked like I was going to murder him. (Dude hasn't spoken a word and now he's reaching menacingly for a rather sadistic looking tool.) I realized what I'd done by then, but I couldn't put the axe back, or it would've looked weird. And I couldn't say, "I swear I'm not going to kill you." cuz also weird.

But the hike was good, even though I couldn't make it to the top, even with a full day's walking. But when I turned around, I could see the sun set on the ocean, 90 miles away through OC's haze.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I should have written this earlier, but rest in peace David Foster Wallace. You are missed, even by those who did not know you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

If I can keep this blog for 50 years, it will be interesting to see the evolution of my thoughts. I also wonder if the future me will think the me now is a dumbass.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's a mistake to measure investments from peak to trough, it makes the losses feel much worse than they will be. I like to think of the numbers on my 401k as imaginary made up things with no substance until I convert to cash. Another trick I do is to only look at my 401k once or twice a year.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

When I bought my car, the dealer was trying to get me to buy a LoJack for $800. I kept refusing, but I did it in a polite way, and I was firm. After I refused to buy any extras, he looked at me apologetically and said something like "I hope you don't think I'm a bad guy." I shook my head and said no, and he seemed slightly relieved and slightly ashamed and almost approving, like I made the right choices. Like his soul was a little eaten up having to persuade people to do what wasn't in their best interest.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Calling the bubble

Bank of America actually offered me $20,000 at 0% interest on my credit card that I was able to invest at 5.5% in an online savings account. I think I made maybe $800 dollars for doing nothing, for no risk. The puritan in me felt a little bit bad about doing it, because I was literally doing no work for the money. On the other hand, the Bank of America people were big boys and girls and no one forced them to lend me $20k. But when the proverbial free lunch actually appears (read: the world has gone insane), apparently shit's about to get fucked up.
Tiny flying cameras the size of a fly would be a horrible privacy and surveillance concern, but it could also be a great force for human rights and eliminating sweatshop conditions. Imagine pulling up a website and seeing a live video feed of how workers around the world were being treated.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

things facebook should do

Why doesn't facebook let people not see status updates that contain obscenities if they don't want that?

Why doesn't facebook let me not show certain status updates to certain people in order to avoid some awkward moments?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I read the Rolling Stone article on the financial mess and I decided I don't like people.

There are way too many people in the world who just want to get rich without creating something really worthwhile -- worthwhile enough to make them rich.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It is so stereotypical, somehow I've started appreciating wine and finding all this emotion in classical music as I get older. I guess it's that yearning for meaning, to put a story on all the sorrows and hard work of life.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I'm more concerned about the man I don't know about starving under a bridge somewhere in India than a beggar I see on the street, because the beggar has been able to survive until this moment, and so it's likely that he'll be able to survive in the future.

(I admit, thinking like this feels a little unnatural and economist-like.)
I wonder how many of the people protesting the AIG bonuses would be able to turn it down if they were in the same position and a million dollars was on the line...especially if no one was paying attention.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A year ago I found all the intricacies of finance interesting, but now I just feel vaguely disgusted by the whole system. I'm glad I can make a living creating something that people want, instead of allocating money to companies and trying to extract as much off the top as possible.

Monday, March 2, 2009

My private self colliding with the public

I went hiking this weekend by myself and twice other hikers suddenly appeared on the trail in front of me while I was singing a really emotional love song, really getting into it. I saw other people infrequently enough that I would start to feel alone but when people would appear, my private self would be exposed and then I'd have to make a quick decision: I chose to pretend that they hadn't heard me and I'd hum quietly to myself as they walked by.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We need the Marcus Aurelius of finance as Treasury Secretary. The man who doesn't care about reputation and what he'll be doing in 4 or 8 years when he must leave office.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Youtube vs. college

There are math instructors on Youtube now that are better, more intuitive teachers than my professors in college.
I feel like a robot controlled by my biology when I read about the ways women's brains are different from men's, and how that indicates that it's because men were out being hunter-gatherers, and how women act this way because it'll help them raise kids, blah blah. I don't want to hear that love is just a chemical meant to bring together a couple long enough to raise a kid together, or that sex is just our genes tricking us with immense pleasure into passing them on. Love, eating, sex - each of these things are worthwhile in themselves.

I need to read less speculative science because it doesn't make me happy, and most of it can only come to a limited, useless conclusion anyway.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Gold will not reach $2000 by the end of this year because people just watched the oil bubble pop and now know to fear when a price rises rapidly for some unknown reason. If gold does go that high, I'll consider selling it short somehow and trying to make some cash off the mass delusion.

Even with the economic shitstorm there is still a large pool of money that is not reaching the hands of the people that would best put it to use to make the future a neater place, and being wasted through stock buybacks and buying gold solely because you think a greater fool will want some in the future.
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iTunes makes a critical usability error by not always giving an immediate response when you click somewhere. The UI works mostly nicely but it needs to tell you that it did recognize that you did indeed try to do something, and that it is working on it, immediately. Don't wait half a second or 2 seconds, it makes the UI feel mushy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

To settle a bet,

tonight I googled for "Hindu god of constipation" but was unable to find one. If this Hindu god does exist, I will be exactly 10000 Rupiah richer, so help a brother out!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, 'This is the real me,' and when you have found that attitude, follow it.

--William James

Hat tip to Tyler Cowen.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

When I see a long blog post with lots of words, I immediately get a sinking feeling...the author has not been respectful of my time and I start skipping chunks of sentences.

But a short post means the author was trying to be a craftsman, and what is left should be a little gem.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The goal for programming languages

I want the computer to do what I want it to do in the most painless (neigh, pleasant even!) way possible for me. C++ is not the language that will make the future happen. It gets horribly complex when you start doing anything advanced with templates. All these computers shipping now have idle processors just sitting there, right? I'd switch languages and take a performance hit in a heartbeat, if it will make doing easy things easy, and also make running on multiple processors not too hard.

What will programming languages be like in 100 years? If people are still using C++ in 100 years and through the miracle of modern medicine we all get to live to be too old, I pledge to kill myself in protest when I'm 130 years of age.

Programming tool rant

The company that makes Visual Assist tries to charge you $50 a year just to download the fixes to their buggy software. It's a necessity to have a tool like this to reduce the hideous drudge work and excess keystrokes that programming in C++ requires, but damn is it unfriendly to charge for fixing basic broken functionality.

Capitalism is the worst system designed, except for all the others.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Egos of Programmers

Programmers have this thing where they're paid to handle all this complexity with their minds, and so programmers grade themselves and the other programmers around them by how much complexity and stuff they know. But you really want programmers to have a love of simplicity: tools should have a simple, pleasant interface, function calls should be easy to make and hard to screw up.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Programmers are mostly bad writers

I find most general programming books to be agonizing to read now (two exceptions are Herb Sutter and Scott Meyers). That methodical, pedantic personality that fits with being a programmer does not produce good writing. And I get the feeling that every programming book author fears that other programmers are going to descend on him like ravenous crows and pick him apart if he is not 100% correct, even if being that correct makes it unreadable.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Only strangers are cool

The only people who can be cool are people who are far away from you, like movie stars. Once I get to know a person, that coolness mystique wears off, and I see them as a human being, with all their flaws and foibles. There isn't one person I know who I think of as cool (beyond the decent person, easy-to-get-along-with meaning.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A 3% savings rate doesn't protect against inflation so...

The only good option is to spend immediately on hookers and blow before the money loses more value.