Sunday, January 21, 2018

Pocahontas

"Elizabeth Warren's Native American Problem Goes Beyond Politics."

The problem isn't that her family had a myth (or perhaps some truth) that they had a Native American ancestor. The problem is that it matters and serves as a type of cultural currency.
Trump: Lost in Hysteria

The case against Trump is beginning to hinge on improbable future speculations (ie nuclear war) and specious claims: he is racist.

He had a good year one. I wouldn't bet it can continue, but Trump has proven me and everyone else wrong time and time again.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I've Got a Bad Idea...

...Let's use the mass media, facebook, and twitter to raise the volume to 11 in order to decide who should be punished for sexual misconduct.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Logging

Films: The Disaster Artist and Hostiles

The Disaster Artist might be an excellent movie and even though I didn't love it as much as 3 Billboards, I hope it'll win the Academy Award for the meta-story behind the movie. Still, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Feels like we're all laughing at the guy and not with the guy no matter the scale it goes to. To illustrate, I never had any interest in seeing The Room because it feels like the enjoyment comes from being a detached, ironic tourist of madness. Is there something wrong with this? I don't know, but I know it doesn't feel good. Then again, I love Fitzcarraldo, so I don't know...

Hostiles...my god...this film has the intellectual capacity of a rodent. Christian Bale and the setting and cinematography carry the first 20-30 minutes, but it really takes a narrative nose-dive at the midpoint and then totally jumps off a cliff toward the end. There are a few good action shootout sequences, but the "movie" fails its most basic storytelling function as plots are set up only to be abandoned and then completely new stories just pop up out of nowhere. The worst sin, however, is simply being mindlessly ideological, treating all the characters as mouthpieces for the radical political idea that the US Army *gasp* mistreated Native Americans. Jesus, this deserves a special place in the videostore for shit.
Simultaneously Great and Terrible News

Saudi Arabia opens up movie theaters for first time in 30 years. First movies seen: ‘The Emoji Movie’ & ‘Captain Underpants’

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Atlantic

Caitlin Flanagan on Nov 11: The Hell With The Witch-Hunt Debate.

Caitlin Flanagan on Jan 11: Wait, This Is A Witch-Hunt

Liberals have made their bed on this stuff with empowering grievances. Now they get to sleep in it.
MLK

Only interesting thought I have on MLK is why are the intersectionalists and their media allies going after him? It's documented he didn't treat women particularly well.

But we know the answer: it isn't politically convenient.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Depression

Is everything we think we know about depression wrong?

Or, more accurately, is everything we know about depression from the marking departments of drug companies that sell anti-depressants.

One of the biggest scandals, I think, that will sometime break will be about how drug companies are controlling the narrative on how we think about health.

I think it is highly probable that our entire conversation about transgenderism is being funded by companies who sell puberty blockers and hormones that transgender patients will need to take for the rest of their lives. It would be very good for them if health insurance companies are politically forced into paying for those drugs for as large a patient pool as possible. Ask yourself this: is this paranoid scenario more likely or is it more likely that for 10s of thousands of years there have been countless number of human beings walking around in bodies that aren't really who they are?  I say we ask a smart computer the question.

Friday, January 12, 2018

More African Immigrants

Tyler Cowen says let's have more. I agree. I've had awesome experiences teaching students from Nigeria and Rwanda -- I found the students to be intelligent, kind, respectful, and intellectually curious.
A Bad Idea

A feminist prof recommends men take drugs and undergo complicated medical procedures to be able to breast feed.

Trying to pacify folks like this is akin to handing Hitler Czechoslovakia.
A Few Random Thoughts on Money, Investing, Etc.

1) In my adult working life I cannot remember a time where stocks were this robust and positive. That suggests to me - a "buy and hold"guy - that it may be worth taking some earnings. And if not now, when?

2) Most financial anxieties can be resolved by holding more cash.

3) The easiest way to get more cash is to work more.

4) Diversification is good, but often misunderstood and misused. For instance, I once heard of someone who diversified by investing in a series of different Target Date funds. Also, diversification can easily justify buying or holding unwise investments (bitcoin, gold, etc).

5) Getting married is probably the best financial decision one can make, provided it's a good marriage.

6) The easiest mistake to make is to buy too much house or spend too much on housing (particularly in CA)

7) I think the financial advice world undervalues individual stock purchases for the same reason doctors often prescribe overly cautious medical approaches. They don't want poop on their face. But remember, it costs nothing to hold onto a stock (unlike a mutual fund or ETF, which although they might have small fees, always have some fees). And also, it's not difficult to identify Blue Chip stocks. And also, it's kinda fun to own a company. I'm not saying invest all your money into a single stock, but many folks caution against buying any single stock at all. And while there is risk a company can take a shit like Enron, it's also possible a company can go gangbusters - look at stocks like McDonalds, Home Depot, Apple, or Disney where you get an outsized return on investment within a certain time period.

8) Finances, like a lot of things, are about developing good habits. I don't have the patience to budget, so instead put into place a forced savings amount each month. Its worked for me. The best habit is to live on less money than you make. In that case, 100% of the time you will be okay.

9) If you know nothing, absolutely zero about investing and don't want to learn it, probably just regularly putting money into a Target Date fund, holding a cash pile, and buying a house when it makes sense is going to set you up fine.

10) Being unemployed sucks worse and does more harm than most people think. The idea behind unemployment insurance is to not be pressured into taking a job that doesn't meet your skillset, but I think it's probably better to get whatever job you can while you are looking for a better job if for no other reason than to keep your mind occupied and your sense of self worth higher. Plus, you might learn something or meet interesting people. Then again, I've never been any type of Executive where is seems like different rule sets apply.

11) Buying shit like clothes, gadgets, toys etc rarely gives me the pleasure I expect whereas with buying experiences like travel, good restaurants, parties, etc., I have almost never regretted even when it wasn't necessarily pleasurable. If that makes sense.

12) You don't get to take it with you, although you do get to give it to people you love.

13) I'd personally like to become more generous.

14) The only kind of debt payment that doesn't make me want to shoot myself in the face is a mortgage, but I suspect maybe it should.

15) If investing gives you anxiety, so should inflation.

16) Many tough decisions become easier when framed by a longer timeline. That is: will this current choice be good for me in 5, 10, 20 years, etc.

17) My real estate agent called money "just numbers in a bank account" getting transferred into home value, but if you need to eat or more likely, buy a new car or pay for daycare, you can't exactly sell the study or a portion of the master bedroom to pay for it.

18) The time to ask for a raise is not when you need it, but when you have leverage. The hard part is identifying when you have leverage --  most regular people are not good at it.

19) I'd bet planning for "best case scenarios" gets people in more trouble than planning for "worst case scenarios."

20) Eating well and exercising is cheaper than the health costs of not.

21) You will have health costs that far exceed what you think you should pay. Plan accordingly.

22) Remember when you buy stuff, you also need to buy space to hold it.

23) Anxiety and frustration may be a sign you are doing things wrong, but it also might be a sign you are growing and learning.

24) Developing avenues of money-making not tied to your labor is a good expenditure of time.

I guess I had more thoughts on this matter than I thought when I sat down to write this post.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Tesla

A review. I've glanced at a couple reviews, and none of them are short. They all sing high praises. I remain unconvinced.

I'm a Tesla-bear for the simple reason that I wouldn't buy one. Why? First, the cost. Tesla 3 is supposed to be a medium-cost consumer car, yet they trudge out a $55K version to be tested. I find this very strange. They pitch a 35K car and then test drive a 55K car. That'd be like shopping for a topline Toyota Camry and then test driving an M3, and thinking Jeez, that was a good driving experience. NO SHIT!

Second: convenience. To me, an EV needs to be extra special to merit the cost because I don't know how or where to charge them whereas I know how to get gas.

Third: Value uncertainty. If I spend 30K on a Subaru, I know I'm getting a car that can go cross country, handle well in snow, handle poor weather, and will last 200,000 miles and upwards of 10-15 years. I know there are an abundance of Subaru mechanics who can work on the cars for a relatively reasonable cost. I know there are new parts. I know there is a resale market if I decide a need a different car. With Tesla, I have no idea how much new batteries cost. I have no idea even what parts are needed. I have no idea how much those parts cost, how often one will need one. I have no idea who I would call if the car didn't work one day. I have no idea if it would easy to be a sell a used one if I didn't like it.

I'm generally in favor of being an early adopter of new technology and paying the premium to move into the future. But for me the cost and risk is too high on this car. Plus, for 55K you're talking luxury. I'd go with a BMW or Audi.

I suppose you get some virtue points for buying Tesla. 55K seems a lot of pay for it.
Brooks on Trump

He's mostly right. It does seem like Trump's "crazy" is now at least partially by design. Sort of a "bad cop" routine that serves as a distraction to his political enemies, while his other hand is competently putting into place policies he was elected to do.
Logging

Film: Lady Bird

Pretty good.
I'm With Them

French artists defend men's right to hit on women.

As Woody Allen says at the end of Hollywood Ending, "Thank God for the French."