Speaking of the Air Force (my dad is retired Air Force), a guy I work with often says "I wasn't in the military. I was in the Air Force".
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Speaking of the Air Force (my dad is retired Air Force), a guy I work with often says "I wasn't in the military. I was in the Air Force".
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I think I finally found the lead in I was looking for. Thank you, Vox Day.
China is suffering from a similar problem America does: feminism. There is a concept I'm still learning about called "hypergamy". The basic concept of it is, a woman tends to "marry up", or seek a man of a higher class. So when women have a lot of career success, the story goes that their pool of potential mates shrinks. She soon finds herself in her 40's, beyond child bearing age and sill unmarried. And the Chinese have a word for this: shengnu. This means, "leftover woman".
So here's my lead in, and I'll try not to make this too cathartic. My ex-wife is divorcing me after 12 years. I say ex-wife because the only thing we have left is a legal status that will be disolved in the next few months. Looking back, it probably should have ended a long time ago. She checked out of the marriage about a decade ago. That leaves me looking around at where to go next. I started profiles on some of the dating sites, and rapidly made some observations.
I'm 39. Other than some extra weight I'm carrying around, I don't think I'm doing bad. I still have all my hair. although some of it is grey. My face isn't wrinkled and I still have lots of strength. When I look at the profiles on dating sites of women within a few years of my age, I'm horrified. As a representative sampling, many of the women on the dating sites I've viewed in their late 30's and early 40's look like life has been slapping them around. Their faces hang down. They look pissed off. They're wrinkled horribly.
Then I see a few from around 42-45 who look to have smooth faces and pleasent smiles. There's still something youthful about them. I work with some women who are older than me, but they're still in "great condition", plus happy and optimistic. I was shocked to learn one was in her 50's. I thought she was closer to my age.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Franklin is known for his 13 virtues, among of course many other things. The contributor who goes by Quintus Curtius (the name of a Roman historian), believes Franklin is hypocritical.
With independent careers as a diplomat, scientist, businessman, statesman, printer, and writer, Benjamin Franklin was the most versatile genius ever produced in North America.
He was also a wily old hypocrite. His Autobiography—still very much worth reading today—reads like a collaboration between Andrew Carnegie and John Stuart Mill.
And yet. There is something slithery about him, this wispy-haired little Benjamin. One gets the feeling that he is trying to put something over on us. Trying to rope us into his little Benjamin-esque corral. So he can control us. And take all the cookies from the jar for himself.
He even drew up a list of “virtues” which he claims to have aspired to and followed on a daily basis. Maddening. Benjamin wants to tap us on the head–tap, tap, tap–and send us out into the pitiless world armed with nothing but his “virtues”. Well, noli me tangere, Benjamin. I loathe your little checklist.He rewrites Franklin's virtues based on what he's learned over the years. For instance:
Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health and offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.becomes:
Chastity: Do not practice chastity. Passion is always a virtue as long as it is sincere. If it is insincere, it is not. Venery is good. Debauchery is not. Learn the difference.in Quintus' philosophy.
This could be an interesting exercise. What famous writer or proverbs would do you find inadequate and in need of rewriting to fit your situation?
Monday, April 29, 2013
- Public school teachers
Let's start with police. Recently in a group I meet with, I was told that my offhanded comment that "police are being used for revenue generation" made somebody really angry. Apparently, this person was afraid if I made the comment again, the situation would escalate. I've been making that comment for years.
I'm not a fan of anonymous cowards. And I would welcome the fight. It would help me blow off some steam from other issues I'm dealing with. But I agreed for the sake of the group not to bring the topic up again.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
I'm pretty sure the education bubble is going to pop soon. I don't believe it's sustainable.
Like any product, you can put a price tag on education. That whole "You can't put a price tag on education" is a marketing slogan, like Nike's "Just do it!" When it comes to any marketing slogan, you need to take your needs into account. Forget theirs. Don't fall for an emotionally charged slogan.
I went about $25,000 into debt in student loans on my degree in Information Technology. I gasp when I read about people going $50,000 to $90,000 in debt in student loans for education, social work, and philosophy degrees. Business Administration (bachelors, not the Master's level MBA).
Stop falling for it. Your parents and teachers probably don't know what they're talking about. Like most other things that come out of their mouths, they're just parroting what they hear around them because it sounds smart. Chances are, they haven't even given any thought to the words they're repeating. They hear it from their friends, they heard it from their teachers, they hear it from the talking heads on TV... Yes, they love you (probably) yes, they (probably) want the best for you, but no, they don't know what they're talking about. But their approach to advising you on your future borders on a cargo cult mentality.
Don't get a worthless degree. Get knowledge and experience that will help you succeed in life. Talk to people who have actually succeeded in the fields you're interested in.
Thanks to Captain Capitalism for pointing this out.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I have an idea of one of the forces behind things like this, besides deliberate manipulation.
Most "investors" seem to be working from a cargo cult mentality. They don't understand what they're doing or why they're doing it. They only have one or two data points from which to figure "I better do this!"
They see people "getting rich" in stocks and think "OK, I just need to get into stocks, and I'll be rich too!" Or they see people "getting rich" in real estate, and think "OK, I just need to get into real estate, and I can be rich too!"
But they don't know what the people "getting rich" in stocks or real estate (or yet another investment) are doing or why they're doing it. All they see is people "getting rich".
Gold is about the same. People listen to Glenn Beck and other gold pitchmen and freak out and buy gold. I used to listen to Alex Jones. He pitched for gold almost hourly. Wouldn't shut up about it. Now he's in some MLM pyramid scheme selling overpriced vitamin powder.
Let's look at stocks. People buy stocks to "get rich", but don't understand why stocks might make them rich. As I said above, the same applies in real estate. People have a flipper mentality. They think "I buy the stock (house) low, and I sell it high! Preferably within 15 minutes." They don't understand that the reason people in stocks and real estate "get rich" is not because they buy the "right" stock or house and flip it right away. People in both "get rich" through long term holding. You aren't supposed to buy a stock you're going to sell in the next 15 minutes. You're supposed to consider stocks based on what kind of dividends they'll pay you.
For this part, I'm talking out my ass because I don't really own any stock so we're going with my limited understanding of the theory. My employer sponsored retirement is in "funds". Lets say you buy a single share of stock for $15. Your $15 in your bank account has been transferred in value to the single share of stock, so your net worth remains the same. You can sell the stock for $15 and walk away even. But this share of stock pays $.15 in dividend. Over the course of a year, if the stock holds steady, your net worth is still $15 in the stock, but over the course of the year, you'll have earned $1.80 in dividends. So next year, you buy another $15 share of stock int he same company, and now you're earning $3.60 in dividends. By the way, this dividend income is only taxed at 15% because Warren Buffet.
Obviously, a serious investor will buy enough shares of stock to at least get a cup of coffee at Starbucks (after taxes). Let's say you could pull off enough stock investment to ensure approximately $60,000 per year in dividend income. Your income taxes on this are 15%. In some areas of the country, you could live on this alone. That means no commute; no job; none of that BS.
The same principle goes for a house. Say you purchase a house for $100,000. You put 20% down like a SMART investor. At 5% interest, $80,000 financed over 30 years will come to about $550 per month. Tack on taxes and let's say we're at $900 per month, which is probably unrealistic outside a shithole like New Jersey (where I own an upside down house that can't sell that charges me $5500 per year in property taxes on a four bedroom cape cod on .18 acres).
You rent the place for $1000 per month. That's $12,000 per year.
Now lets say you "flip" the house rather than rent it. You put $20,000 worth of work into it and "flip" it for $130,000. I doubt that's possible, but this is theoretical. Which option gives you more? A one time theoretical $10,000, or $12,000 per year in rental income?
Most investors don't think that far, which is why I call them "cargo cult investors". They scream bullshit like "I just have to find the RIGHT stock." "I just have to find a house and flip it!" "I have to buy gold 'cause Glenn Beck says so!"
Yet they don't understand why. And when prices go south, they flip the hell out and sell off. They are incredibly prone to market manipulation. On one hand "I have to buy gold! You need gold too! If the economy collapses, gold will save us!" On the other hand "Oh, crap! Gold is dropping. Sell! Sell! Sell!"
That's what happened in 2008. The stock market dropped, so people dumped their retirement plans. And lost a buttload of money. Those who stayed in saw their plans come back up. A friend showed me the Excel graph he keeps of his retirement account. There was a drop in 2008, followed by a SHARP increase in 2009-2010. Not only did he maintain the monthly retirement contribution; he upped it. So while the price of shares were down, he was buying more for the same amount. Then when they came back, his value soared.
Today's lesson is, don't be a cargo cult investor. If you don't know what you're doing, ask somebody. Preferably somebody outside of your family and social circle. Don't take advice from people who can't demonstrate success in the area in which they're offering advice in. Just smile nicely while you say under your breath "You're full of shit. You've never done this. You just read it in a mass-market paperback bestseller aimed at idiots like you who will eat this up and never act on it. I'm not going to listen".
Sunday, April 14, 2013
What a mistake. I was wrong. And now I'll have to pay for the book.
I watched The Hunger Games this weekend. I actually watched it twice. The movie is the kind of story that I need to watch at least twice to get an idea of what's going on.
I thought the movie was great. It was very well produced and acted. They took the time to do it right. It clocked in at about two and a half hours. On my second time through, I really appreciated that. At no point did the story start feeling tired or tedious. If anything, there were a few parts of the story that I wish they'd put just a little bit more time into, but I assume the book will answer those questions for me.
I'm sure most viewers watching this movie or reading the books will think "Yeah. That could never happen." Oh, really? Look at history. Maybe it hasn't happened all at once, but every aspect of the story is laid out piecemeal throughout history, including the present times.
In North Korea, the favored classes get to live in the capitol, where they enjoy luxuries. Those unfavored get to live away from the capitol, where many of them are undernourished and starving. This is kind of like the society in Hunger Games. You can see parts of this in the documentary "Inside North Korea".
Child sacrifice pops up in cultures throughout history.
Gladiatorial combat does as well. Ancient Rome, anybody? Bread and circuses? That basically means if we keep the people fat and entertained, we can do whatever we want and they'll barely notice.
All the Hunger Games does is put it all together in one place. A pissed off state punishing its citizens for some uprising that happened way in the past. It locks them off into isolated districts and keeps the economies of those districts depressed. The people are so focused on day to day existence, they can't think about another uprising. Then once a year, 24 children are chosen at random and forced to battle it out on TV for everybody to watch. The winner's district gets to feel good about itself, while the others assume "better luck next year".
Something I picked up the second time through: one of the districts actually has an academy to train children for the Hunger Games. They train full time from 12 to 18, then volunteer. Except for the year this story takes place, they always win.
Don't tell yourself Hunger Games could never happen. It already has. Maybe not all at once, but all parts of this story have happened in history.
Something else I've noticed is the majority of residents of the capitol are kind of freaky, and the men are effeminate. Just about ever male character in the capitol, with the exception of Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz, are effeminate. The women are really wacked out with makeup and hair color. And the furniture makes me think Ikea won the revolt and in fact is the government.
All told, great movie. Well worth the two times I've watched it so far. I'm halfway tempted to put it on a third time because it's that good and Netflix rocks. I'm going to have to get the books so I understand the backstory, and I'm looking forward to the next two movies, which I believe are slated for production.
There's an interesting post on The Economic Collapse Blog about "11 Economic Crashes That Are Happening Right Now".
Some of them are standard things you'd read about. It mentions the Bitcoin and gold crashes (not sure if those are really crashes or just the effects of over-eager cargo cult investors, or deliberate market manipulation). It mentions oil being down. One thing I thought was interesting is Casino Spending:
#7 Casino Spending
Casino spending is declining again. Many people (including myself) would consider this to be a good thing, but casino spending is also one of the most reliable indicators about the overall health of the economy. Remember, casino spending crashed during the last financial crisis as well. That is why it is so alarming that casino spending is now back to levels that we have not seen since the last recession.
That's interesting. Considering that many states live off the proceeds of casinos, I'm sure we'll be hearing about tighter budgets and the need to increase fees and taxes. I heard something Friday that Maryland is going to start taxing landowners for the rain that falls on their property. What other idiotic schemes will governments come up with while avoiding the reality that they are unsustainable?
Saturday, April 13, 2013
I helped a friend with yardwork this morning. I got a Chinese lunch and two Raging Bitches (my favorite beer) in return. Well worth it. Plus time to spend with a good friend I've known since 1995 when we served on the same ship.
While I was doing yardwork, I got to thinking about dystopian futures. It probably helped that I watched The Hunger Games last night.
We've had quite a few dystopian futures pop up in film and literature over the years. We've got Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451", Orwell's "1984", "Hunger Games", "Logan's Run", Judge's "Idiocracy", and many more. I think "Fight Club" probably counts as a dystopia, although it was set in the 90's. It also seemed to be meant as more philosophical than prophetic.
Some dystopian futures are unworkable. Some are possible. Most are terrifying.
The conclusion I came to is, if we had to "choose" a dystopian future, I think "Idiocracy" would be the kindest we could hope for. Everyone is plain stupid. On the plus side, free Gatorade.
So which dystopian future would you like to come about? My vote is for Idiocracy.
So the President called an attorney general attractive. So? M'kay?
But the media blows up. Both "sides" (no, there are not two sides to the media. There are multiple sides. I tend to ignore what we consider the left and right wings.)
And of course, while they're so busy blasting him for complimenting a lady (remember when that used to be a good thing? No?), they're not reporting on the out of control federal debt and spending he continued and escalated after the last guy got it started. Nope, not one word. Also, where did the antiwar Demoncrats go? Remember all those peace rallies when Bush was President? We're still in Iraq and Afghanistan Why did the Demoncrats quit being antiwar once "their" guy was in office?
And that's why I ignore them. They don't really "report" on any issues. They just do what they have to do to keep your eyes glued to the TV, support the causes they believe in, and sell advertising. They ignore anything that doesn't meet those goals.
That's why I support independently produced media with a libertarian bent.I'm just not interested in MSNBCBSBCNNFOXCNBCWHATEVEROTHERSTHEREMAYBEICANTKEEPTRACKANYWAY.