Monday, October 22, 2007

The Problem With Economics

Read this.

Russ Roberts does it again. It is the best thing I have read in a while.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It Is Two O'Clock, I Had Better Start Working

Since I have to leave at 3:00PM.

The saying at the grocery store was we in the produce department got more done by 8:00AM than the meat department got done in a day.

This is not the case with me anymore.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Politics, Leadership, And April 16th

(I spent a good amount of time trying to decide if this post is appropriate. I think it is more a personal statement about things that have bothered me for months more than anything else, and it should be read that way. I think we all have tried to come to grip with things that are hard to grasp. This is just another attempt.)

I woke up this morning to the news. Victims' parents are considering filing lawsuits against Blacksburg, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

It has been sixth months, but my initial impression of how the event has been handled has changed very little. Cho was a sick kid, and nothing ex ante could have reduced his violence. Nothing. There is no blame.

But President Steger and those in charge that day's first reaction was to cover their ass. They lied about the dorm being shut down. I walked past 20 minutes after the first shooting. People were freely entering and exiting. They lied about the lock-down system in the dorms. A card was required between 10:00PM to 10:00AM. An Email is instantaneous and does not need a committee. Steger did not know, but he refused to say he did not know." Steger's first reaction was to cover his ass. He got on the talk shows the next morning and covered his ass. Instead of saying, "We might have done some things wrong. We will examine what happened and make decisions later. Please let us grieve now. Please." He politicized and media-ized the event by getting on talk shows. He did damage control. He did what university presidents who make a half a million do, he played public relations. He has done the same thing for the past six months. He enacted reactionary policies that cannot prevent another incident but cost millions of dollars and makes some people feel better. We even have a Community Service Fair today in honor of the victims. And he kept the university focused on being a top-tier research institution while honoring those who lost their life with memorials and concerts.

Steger is a damn good politician. Damn good. But I do not consider him a leader. Russ Roberts defines leadership this way: "The essence of "leadership" is doing unpopular stuff, stuff that goes against the consensus and that later turns out to be right."

I do not pretend to know what will turn out to be right. But I do not think Steger is willing to do unpopular stuff, and I do not think he agrees with this definition of leadership.

I do not think Steger should be forced to resign. But if he was a leader, I think he would have accepted some blame and eventually stopped covering his ass. Eventually the politics has to stop. It has not stopped with him yet.

This comes off as a personal attack. And it is. But the problem with many so-called leaders, especially in academia and government, is that the fear of doing something different, something unpopular cripples them. It paralyzes them into being politicians. Maybe it is the voters and the public's fault for being fickle. Maybe professional and for-pay government and public service has become necessary.

But politics and playing politics is still disheartening.

What Is A Lethal Ape?

It is not caring, not sharing
It is a volatile focus
It is a lack of stability
It is a lack of respectability
It is seeing the devil
It is seeing the Truth
It is not clever, but
It is forever
It is a high
And most of all
It is F.T.B.

Expect to win.

I wrote this when I was 22. Here is my comment then: "You know you're 22 years old and you have no clue. Does that make you dangerous or just stupid?--Probably stupid."

Things never change.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

They Will Break Your Heart

The Redskins, that is what they do.

Tyler Cowen criticizes one of those economics papers. One of those many papers that fail the common sense test.

It is all bullshit, and I am volunteering for it. What does that say about me?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Some Things

1. Work when you work. Play when you play. Confusing the two leads to immense trouble and existentialist crises.

2. I like good baseball and good football. If I could just stop rooting for teams, then watching games would bring me great joy. (I used to dislike Livan Hernandez, but if I needed someone to pitch a big game, he would be on the short list.)

3. Most people do not give a damn about a person's diet. They just want you to eat and keep eating. Old women get much joy out of watching young men eat.

4. This song holds the secret of life (and the female orgasm). I have not figured it out yet. But I know it holds the secret.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Isn't Tomorrow Friday?

It has been a long day, and a longer week. I guess I haven't been busy enough.

Information And Work

First the Einstein Quote of the Day:

A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future.

No matter how arrogant I get, it amazes me how many ideas are out there. The vast majority are mediocre or irrelevant. But even if I could somehow eliminate my exposure to these categories, I would still be swamped trying to incorporate and filter good ideas.

One (and I have) could spend day upon days just going through ideas, but eventually one has to work. He has to pick something and just go with it.

Getting caught up in ideas is getting caught up in the past. The pass is a sunk cost. Today is the only thing we have.

(I write this as I am listening to Jimi Hendrix's "I Don't Live Today" "It's such a shame to waste your time away like this...Get experienced.")

(The idea discussion was sparked by

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I am trying to think of ways to punish (reward) myself for not getting things done (getting things done). Since I have no money, the punishments and rewards cannot be monetary.

The fact that I cannot come up with anything says almost as much about me as the fact that I have to do this in the first place.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Paul Krugman's Blog

I just visited Krugman's blog. I am not going to post a link. It is easy to find if want to read it.

My problem with Krugman and politically liberal economists in general is that their self-righteousness. It is their wonderful faith in themselves. I think Krugman really believes that if he was appointed "supreme dictator of the world" that the world would be a perfect place. The confidence he and liberal economists have amazes me.

It also frustrates the hell out of me. I readily admit I can barely take care of myself. I admit I am fucked up. Right now I am internally debating whether to go to a tailgate. I am debating the importance of friendship, fellowship versus private reflections. And I have no answers. None. Zero. All I know is I have to figure things out, I, me not the collective

I can pretend like Krugman and Galbraith. I can spout off Utopian health plans or how horrible the Iraqi War is. But I would just be pretending. My health is too good. I am not in Iraq.

I do not know. And neither does Krugman.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I have not posted in ten days. I have had nothing to say.

I have had nothing to say for a while.

I rode the bus this morning. I sat there thinking about how little ambition I have. I thought about how my professional career is doomed to mediocrity. I went to college and graduate school, so I would not have to struggle. So I will never have to work like my Dad.

I will never have to struggle, but acceptance of mediocrity, lack of ambition might be worse than struggling.

Last night my co-blogger called. He felt the same way I do. He talked about ideas and entrepreneurship. It was a great conversation.

But I rode the bus this morning and thought about how little ambition I have.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Another Thing

I haven't ate meat in 30 hours.

I did not realize this, and it will be rectified tonight.

I Am Not Changing The Previous Post's Title

Yeah, I caught myself peaking.

I hope not. I really hope not.

If this is the best I can do, then I am not much.

I have always wanted the next year of my life to be my best. I still want this.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Yeah, I Caught Myself Peaking

I have checked the Redskins' score today. I have even checked the Braves once in a while. I know they are eliminated. I know Junior is not in the Chase. But I am trying not to be as obsessive. This is a good thing.

Virginia Tech football will be Virginia Tech football. Beamer will win 8.5 games a year. He will always be near the top of a weak ACC. He will always have great athletes. He will always depend on defense and special teams. He will never show the offensive creativity it takes for teams to win national championships. He will get beat by superior coaches who have as much talent as he does. Sometimes he will get beat by superior coaches who have less talent than him.

As Dennis Green said "It is what it is."

So Hokie football is going on the list with the Redskins, Braves and Junior.

(Yeah, I know the Redskins won.)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Absolute Reality

My past 24 hours:

Yesterday 8:30AM
I have to run to the bus, so I get to my office in time for someone to pick up a ticket up from me. I forget my lunch.

Yesterday 10:30AM
After waiting an hour for someone to pick up a ticket from me, a former colleague (Jeff named her "Ugly") asks me who this student she is supposed to be working with is. I have no idea but ask this new guy. His description, "He looks a whole lot like you (me), bald, but less bulky." After I beat the living shit out of the guy, the former colleague found her man. Of course I did not beat the living shit out of the guy, but I spent the next two hours thinking about how I could stink his office or anonymously hurt him. The someone never picked up the tickets, but I waited and waited.

Yesterday 12:30PM
I go to class. I am bored out of my mind. I think this is my last semester of classes. Thank goodness. I had better undergraduate classes. At least then I could talk about reality without getting looked at like I was an idiot and silenced by the professor.

Yesterday 2-6:00PM
I try to break even on my tickets. I am walking the streets like a whore. "Who needs tickets? Because I got what you need, baby." There are a hundred whores and no johns. My phone is barely functional. I do break even. Thank goodness. But it was a struggle I did not need.

Yesterday 8:00PM
I go to the concert. I am so tired. The concert makes me more tired and sad. This whole university does not want to discuss reality. It is caught up is some dream world that does not exist. A dream world I do not want to exist. I leave early.

Yesterday 10:30PM
I eat my lunch for dinner. It was okay. My back is stiff from walking and standing. I take two Advil. It takes a while to sleep. But sleep comes.

Today 8:00AM
I get up late. I eat breakfast. I realize I have nothing for lunch. I run for the bus. This running is not good on my back.

Today 10:30AM
The new guy and his friends are back. I am looking up temporary insanity cases. I would be doing the world a favor.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Virginia Tech Has Quarterback Problems

Sean Glennon is quoted in this article:

"I think Tom Brady is a little more credible than a lot of the guys that have opinions on me, so it's nice to see," Glennon told reporters in Blacksburg, Va., earlier this week. "It's nice to have someone with obviously a very high football IQ give me compliments."

Good quarterbacks must have confidence, but given his last two performances, Glennon isn't a good quarterback. I might not be credible. I might have a low football IQ. But the last two times he has suited up, he has been consistently horrible while showing flashes of mediocrity.

He lofts one of those deep passes up against LSU, and a defensive lineman is going to put him on his ass during the interception return. I wonder what Tom Brady will say then. He will probably say "good job" like he did last week, because I know he is not watching the game.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What I Am Reading

1. I just finished The Evelyn Wood Seven-Day Speed Reading and Learning Program by Stanley D. Frank. I cannot read thousands of words a minute, but it taught me that skimming is okay, especially if you do it effectively. A lot of what he suggests I already do which made me feel better.

2. I am working on William Easterly's White Man's Burden. Like his The Elusive Quest For Growth, it shows how individuals not governments create growth. He also makes the Sachites look like the idiots they are.

3. I just started Tim Harford's The Undercover Economist. It has been disappointing so far. Maybe I had too high of expectations.

4. I have been struggling through Hemingway's Farewell to Arms. I prefer his short stories.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Business, Change, And Life

My Dad has owned a video store for the past ten years. He has went from not knowing what a DVD is to having a rental catalog of 6000 DVDs. He went from having an inventory of about 100 cassette tapes to having an inventory of about 1000 CDs five years ago, to having about 250 CDs now. He used to have half of the ice cream freezer filled with ice cream novelties under a dollar. Now the freezer is three fourths Ben and Jerry's.

He convinces himself every year that it will be the video store's last.

Change is difficult. But if you take a step back, the one constant, is that we survive change.

Surviving has to be enough.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Information Authority

Doctors and mechanics examine our bodies and cars, use their acquired knowledge, and make diagnoses. They make diagnoses and offer solutions that we could not determine on our own. This relationship depends on the integrity of the doctor or mechanic. It depends on our faith in doctors and mechanics to accurately diagnose.

I have lost faith in doctors and mechanics.

This is a scary thing.

I really think doctors are worse than lawyers. There is no integrity left in a medical degree. We need a portfolio of doctor jokes.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Some Things

1. I looked at some economists' blogs today other than MarginalRevolution and CafeHayek. There is no reason that myself and my readership could not start a blog devoted to economics or the stupidity of economists and gain a following. It would be a worthless thing, but we could do it.

2. By definition, a worthless thing is not worth doing. But that rarely stops me.

3. I complained to my nurse Mom that my foot hurt after long trips or time sitting down. My Mom gave me sympathy. My Dad said: "You are 26 years old, aches and pains will be the rest of your life. Get used to it." My Dad knew exactly what I needed.

4. I got the doctor's bill. He charged $250 take a month to look at $500 worth of blood tests and to tell me I am fat. He also told me if I continue to be fat, I will die. The bluntness and "no shitness" of his message combined with the callousness of his bill pains me. I am 26 years old, aches and pains will be the rest of my life. I better get used to it.

5. I have lost 30 pounds on this South Beach diet. The doctor says I need to lose more. I have determined that simple carbohydrates are my drug. They are my crack. This means I will fuck up soon. Because no man can stay away from his crack.

6. I am going to stay away from doctors as much as I can.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Decision That Will Probably Reverse

I care too much about the Redskins and Braves.

So I am going to stop watching them. I am going to stop checking their scores and websites. If the 'Skins make the Super Bowl, I might watch. I doubt if the Braves will make the playoffs, but they will lose in the end anyway. It is over with. This goes for NASCAR too. Dale Jr. is a lame duck. I doubt if he will ever win a championship. I doubt if he will 10 more races in his career. There is too much talent in NASCAR.

The Vick thing bothers me. The Wickman thing bothers me. Neither are worth discussing.

I could never understand someone ex ante telling you to win at all costs, then ex post telling you that there is more to the game than winning. You cannot have it both ways.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The French Pronounce It That Way, But I Am Not French

I have been trying something new this week. I write down my core achievements that I want to accomplish in a journal, and I try to achieve them. It has not been a success. But it has not been a failure either.

As usual I have a difficult time expressing my core achievements. Writing is difficult. Saying I want to finish a draft of the introduction has no meaning. I worked on the introduction, but what does a draft really represent?

But the thing that worries me is that I do not have any goals. I do not know what I want. People tell me that "everyone knows what they want." But I do not. I have no clue. I have tried to find that light at the end of the tunnel. I have tried to answer "where do I want to be in five years?" But I cannot. I have general inclinations, but nothing definite enough to be a goal.

To achieve any kind of success, a person has to have goal. Success is achieving goals. "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life." "A limousine without a place to go is no better than a bike with flat tires."

I cannot concentrate enough to finish this post. This lack of concentration is my problem.

People get to this point, where all the stupid shit that drives adolescence, that keeps people without goals getting out of bed in the morning, all of this shit that pulls us in a million different directions, becomes transparent, where life becomes clear. Everyone does not get to this point, but damn it, I will get there.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Time, Sleep, And The Other Things I Do Not Understand

I know this is irrational, but time moves at varying speeds. This is a psychological thing. But artificial product differentiation is product differentiation. There has to be a way to capitalize on this and make money.

I have not been sleeping well. I have been trying to allot myself nine hours to sleep, but sometimes it is not enough. Other times seven hours is plenty.

This post is stupid as shit. I am blogging just to be doing something.

I am sitting around waiting for things to happen again.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Too Many Women Blues

I got one on the right
One on the left
One in the shed
And two in the bed
I got the
I got the too many women blues

Who could have ever thought
This happening to an ugly guy like me
But man I didn't know
How good it felt to be free

I got the
I got the too many women blues

Most of you
Know this is not true
But how good it feels to be free

They say the past can ruin the future
But you gotta let it
And I tell you
The past don't mean shit
When you got the
(Too many women) blues

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Quittin' Time"

"Hey baby tell me what we're gonna do
It's getting crazy and I need some help from you
We were so connected that you were a part of me
Now I feel an emptiness right to the heart of me

But you pretend and I pretend
That everything is fine
And though we should be at an end
It's so hard admittin'
When it's quittin' time

Hey baby I'm running out of things to say
Please don't hate me this feeling just won't go away
Now we're spending all our time caught in a fantasy
Just trying to keep in mind the way it used to be

But you pretend and I pretend
That everything is fine
And though we should be at an end
It's so hard admittin'
When it's quittin' time

But you pretend and I pretend
That everything is fine
And though we should be at an end
It's so hard admittin'
When it's quittin' time"

500th Post

The last post was the 500th one on this blog. I think that means I have written 497 posts. In a sad way that is pretty cool.

It has been five years since my last football training camp. I certainly do not miss the overall experience of sweat, sleeplessness, and soreness, but I would love to hit some bags or some defensive lineman (not a sled) a couple more times.

I hated football camp. No that is not true. I liked that football camp made me tired. I liked that football camp pushed my body past preconceived limits. I liked that football camp required discipline. I liked that football camp brought 150 boys and made them go through things they hated but liked and wanted at the same time.

I was going to say something like I have been going through a football camp for the past two years Or life is like football camp. But that would be bullshit.

Football camp was a change for me. I worked with my Dad during the summer, and it was nice to be able to do something different no matter how physically and mentally demanding it was.

You go through periods and you get bored or attached to something. Then something changes. Or you change. You get depressed about the boredom or the loss. But dealing with changes and knowing when to change are both the hard the fun parts of life.

I have been through enough football camps to know that when camp is finished it is finished. It might not have been worth it, but it is over and done with until the next one comes around. And that is the first step in dealing with change.

It is also the first step to being happy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Better Them Than Us

I think about the savanna
I think about the forests
I think about you and me
How far we have come
I hope you don't blame me
Sometimes I blame myself
My ancestors voluntarily submitted
Yours were forced
Mine ignored their chains
Thinking "better them than us"
Now I ignore the present
In favor of history
Together we ignore our chains
Thinking "better them than us"

Live Life Like You Are Getting Ready To Shit On Yourself

My indecisiveness disappeared. My vision showed clear. The light at the end of the tunnel shined. And once I sat down, I rediscovered happiness.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Things I Have Come To Learn

1. Ask the nurse or lab or someone how much a blood test is going to cost before getting it done. I just had a $400 blood test that my family doctor back home calls a "worthless catch-all test that says nothing." Maybe insurance will pay some of it, but I will not know for a couple of weeks, so I had to pay it now or face a $50 late charge.

2. I came to graduate school thinking I could fix U.S. health care. Graduate school has taught me graduate students, professors, and administrators cannot fix anything. It takes pissed off individuals. I must not be pissed off enough.

3. The apple does not fall far from the tree. The things I dislike about my Dad are the same things I dislike about myself. The same things that will lead him to an early grave will lead me. Some of it is genetics, some of it is experience, but most of it is stupidity.

Einstein Quote Of The Day

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction. "

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Woody Allen On Ingmar Bergman

"I learned from his example to try to turn out the best work I’m capable of at that given moment, never giving in to the foolish world of hits and flops or succumbing to playing the glitzy role of the film director, but making a movie and moving on to the next one. Bergman made about 60 films in his lifetime, I have made 38. At least if I can’t rise to his quality maybe I can approach his quantity."

Woody keeps coming back to this hard work theme in his interviews and essays. (I do not think it always come through in his movies, but that is the topic for a different post.)

I think he is right. You have to work. You have to do the best you can. You cannot sit around and worry about what others think.

Give me the strength to do what is right, and the confidence to know it is right.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Things I Can Do Without

A few weeks ago I was playing basketball with my cousins' cousin's husband. He a was 25 year old American wearing a soccer jersey. Naturally he was rich prick.

He was a good athlete. But I told my other cousin "If we knock him down, he will quit." I will always be a prole.

I was right. He drove to the basket. I got in front of him, and he went to the ground hard. I gave him the foul, but I still think it was a charge if it was anything. He did not drive to the basket again.

Now I did this too late in the game, and we lost. This was mostly due to the fact I was playing with 13 and 14 year olds who had no concept of defense at all. (I have been meaning to write a post about the sad state of basketball for weeks.)

But my thrill of the weekend, the month, maybe the year was knocking the shit out of that guy. It was the greatest thing I had done since beating all of those rich preppies on the AP US History exam.

I will always be a prole. I used to think that my prole's anger is what separated me from my colleagues. I hate authority. I hate the status quo. Hatred can provide energy. Hatred leads to caring. Anyone who cares can be dangerous and cause change.

But over the last few weeks, I have decided I have to let some things go. I cannot let the thrill of knocking some rich prick down be the highlight of my life. And I need to avoid situations like that. I should only play basketball occasionally with friends who I will have to see again. Competition can be good. But at my age the first and foremost competition has to be with myself. I cannot keep defining success as how many people I knock the shit out of and are "better than" (whatever the hell that means).

I did not win the game. My prole's anger took my eye away from the goal. If I want to be truly dangerous, I have to win.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Communication Costs

There are some people I do not like. I assume the feeling is mutual, so I remain cordial.

But there are some people I would really like to tell what I think of them, just tell them how idiotic they are, just call them the liars that they are. I assume they would like to do the same to me.

So maybe there would be a Pareto improvement if we just tell each other how we feel.

The Joy Of Swimming

I am fat. I have infinitely more hair on my chest and back than I do on my head. But I would strip naked in front of the most beautiful women in the world to jump into a pool right now.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Question Of The Day

Who are bigger crooks, doctors or automobile mechanics?

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I saw this guy walking down the street. He was listening to an iPod. He had a big grin on his face. I punched him square in the jaw. He dropped to his knees. He looked up and asked "Why?"

I replied: "I wanted to see if I could knock that stupid look off your face. I succeeded."

If You Are Not Doing Anything, Then You Are Not Doing Anything

When I came to graduate school I met some obsessive people, people who could not have fun but studied all of the time, people who could have fun but could not study.

I also met people who could balance life pretty well. These are the people I wanted to be.

But here is the conundrum. The people who could balance did not accomplish anything. They were saner than the obsessives, but who really gives a damn about being sane?

I am obsessive. I have to try and balance, but before I can reach happiness, I have to respect myself. I have to embrace my obsessiveness. I have to accept my ambition while recognizing my shortcomings.

Instead of sitting around doing nothing looking for magical elixirs to cure my Blues, I have to do what I want when I want.

Now I just have to figure out what I want.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This Made Me Laugh

Lyrics: Brad Paisley - Online lyrics

I work down at the Pizza Pit
And I drive an old Hyundai
I still live with my mom and dad
I'm 5 foot 3 and overweight
I'm a scifi fanatic
A mild asthmatic
And I've never been to second base
But there's whole 'nother me
That you need to see
Go checkout MySpace

'Cause online I'm out in Hollywood
I'm 6 foot 5 and I look damn good
I drive a Maserati
I'm a black-belt in karate
And I love a good glass of wine
It turns girls on that I'm mysterious
I tell them I don't want nothing serious
'Cause even on a slow day
I could have a three way
Chat with two women at one time
I'm so much cooler online
So much cooler online

When I get home I kiss my mom
And she fixes me a snack
And I head down to my basement bedroom
And fire up my Mac
In real life the only time I've ever even been to L.A
Is when I got the chance with the marching band
To play tuba in the Rose Parade

[ Online lyrics found on ]
Online I live in Malibu
I pose for Calvin Klein, I've been in GQ
I'm single and I'm rich
And I've got a set of six pack abs that would blow your mind
It turns girls on that I'm mysterious
I tell them I don't want nothing serious
'Cause even on a slow day
I could have a three way
Chat with two women at one time
I'm so much cooler online
So much cooler online

When you got my kind of stats
It's hard to get a date
Let alone a real girlfriend
But I grow another foot and I lose a bunch of weight
Every time I login

I'm out in Hollywood
I'm 6 foot 5 and I look damn good
Even on a slow day
I could have a three way
Chat with two women at one time
I'm so much cooler online
Yeah, I'm cooler online
I'm so much cooler online
Yeah, I'm cooler online

Yeah, I'm cooler online

Yeah, I'll see ya online

We are all looking for some type of escape.

What Do Government Bureaucrats Really Want?

The power over life and death.

But government will run a successful health care system.

If you want a job done right, do it yourself. Do not ask for handouts. Do not ask for collective action. Do it yourself.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Thing I Like About Wal-Mart

I never worry if I am paying too much in Wal-Mart. I have been shopping at Kroger which has better meat and sometimes better produce. On all non-sale items they are 25-50% higher.

This morning I went to this vegetarian restaurant. It has a whole wall dedicated to stopping Wal-Mart from coming to "our" community. It made me sick. The service was not bad. But it took me ten minutes to pay. I paid with a credit card, and the cashier left before the receipt was printed. I could see the receipt right there, but no one stopped to let me sign. So I stepped around the register, tore it off, and signed. My tip reflected my waiting.

Maybe I was not that far off in this post.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Little

If I go someplace else, someplace with a little coffee, someplace a little cooler, someplace with a little more light, someplace with a little less distractions, someplace with a little more life, I will be better.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What Have We Learned?

"The greatest guilt today is that of people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of what they are accepting; the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom, with no concrete meaning attached to the word; the people who believe the content of ideas need not be examined, that principles need not be defined, and that facts can be eliminated by keeping one's eyes shut. They expect, when they find themselves in a world of bloody ruins and concentration camps, to escape moral responsibility by wailing: "But I didn't mean this.""

From Ayn Rand's foreword to Anthem in 1946

Three Steps To Approach A Probem From Some Wise Old Man Whose Name I Forget

1. Visualize.
Fix your focus. Define your objectives.

2. Agonize.
Find the facts. Clearly define your problem.

3. Organize.
Form a team or support group. Face your demons and conquer them. Finish the job.

He also said, "Teaching should be instructional, practical, and motivational."

He was certainly a wise man.

Now it is time for me to fix my focus.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Promises I Have Made To Myself

1. When Peter Frampton comes on the radio, I change the station and never come back.

2. I never eat buffalo wings around neat people who like to make fun of fat people. I might end up on death row.

3. I always use the same types of weights while lifting. I always put my weights back.

4. I do not take myself too seriously.

5. I will never go to another 4th of July celebration where they hire a Beatles tribute band.

6. I will never listen to another Beatles tribute band.

7. I stand at attention during the national anthem.

8. I will not get drunk to make a band sound good.

9. I will not get drunk to make a chick look good.

Einstein Quote Of The Day

"Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Somebody does something. I get angry. I realize "it doesn't matter." But right now it does.

I spit. It hits the ground. I say "it is over with."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Two Quotes From Bukowski's Ham On Rye

"I walked around the library looking for books. I pulled them off the shelves one by one. But they were all tricks. They were very dull. There were pages and pages of words that didn't say anything. Of if they did say something they took too long to say it and by the time they said it you already were too tired to have it matter at all."

"His mother made him stick his nose into a book right away and she made him keep it there. She made him read all of his school books over and over, page after page. "He must pass his exams," she told me. It never occurred to her that maybe the books were wrong. Or maybe it didn't matter."

What do these quotes remind you of?

There Is No Such Thing As Fiscally Responsible Public Investments

1. Golf courses do not pay, especially when politicians use the National Golf Foundation as their main reason to build a course.

2. From this report:

"Baseball does not boost the local economy. Andrew Zimbalist, a leading sports economist, wrote earlier this year: “There are very few fields of economic research that produce unanimous agreement. Yet every independent economic analysis of the impact of stadiums has found no predictable positive effect on output or employment. Some studies have even concluded that there is a possible negative impact.” This perhaps surprising finding largely reflects the fact that families and individuals who spend money to attend a baseball game spend less on other forms of entertainment than they would in the absence of a stadium."

Friday, July 06, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Some Things About Myself

1. I am fat. My lack of fitness has started to affect my health. My legs retained fluid the other day. Every time I get a cold I also get a respiratory infection. It is time for a change.

2. I am lazy. I cannot concentrate. I can blame boredom and other bullshit all I want, but it is me. It is all me.

3. I have a nose hair longer than any hair on my head. I must trim it.

4. I am too nice of a guy. I let people whose only concern is their well-being to influence my life. I cannot let others' schedules override mine.

I am going to the gym. When I come back, I am going to be a changed man.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A Quote From Charles Bukowski Through Jeff

"You begin saving the world by saving one person at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics."

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Advice For Teaching

I am trying to digitize some of my written notes. I am too lazy to just type them up and save them, so I am going to put some here at the old blog.

The following is advice distinguished professors gave to TAs at a seminar.

1. Have a stage presence. Teaching is a performance.

2. Be prepared.

3. You syllabus should be a legally binding contract between you and the student. It should be a constitution. It might not be fair, but all students should be equal before the syllabus.

4. Know peoples' names.

5. Details are important.

6. Look nice and professional.

7. Be careful.

8. Always leave your personal problems at the classroom door, and do not take anything a student says or does personally.

9. Talk about what you know every opportunity you get. If you are doing research on a relevant topic, talk to the students about it. Teaching equals research and vice versa.

10. Never say anything important in the last five minutes of class.

11. Define what it takes to get a certain grade.

12. If it is important, say it at least three times.

13. Tear down the wall that separates most professors and students. They have to know you are a real person. Disarm your students unless you want to be fired at. (I know this is a bad analogy given the tragedy.)

14. Work with your best and worst students. The middle students take care of themselves.

15. Talk to colleagues.

16. Do not try to control students. If you do, you will fail.

17. Learn how to manage your time.

18. Many students do not know how to learn. It is part of your job to try and teach them how to learn. You cannot do this unless you know how to learn.

19. Sometimes you just have to survive.

20. The day before a class always have something "solid" in front of you.

21. Make your material relevant.

22. Be helpful.

23. Know yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses.

24. Make people stand.

25. If you have a talkative class, pick a fictitious person in the back to yell at.

26. Be organized.

27. It has to matter to you. Be passionate.

28. Understand your own insignificance. A bad class does not ruin a semester. A bad semester does not ruin a career. Do the best you can and do not worry about the rest.

A Question

A comment from this predictable pious article:

"ihamos (6/28/2007 at 9:41 AM)
Let me come at this from a different, albeit unpopular angle. Why does it matter? Yes NFL players are subject to the same laws of this country as we are, but I mean as far as the NFL and suspensions go. Salaries in general, be it the $40K that a normal guy makes or the $5m made by a player are calculated based on the amount of money that person produces for the company they work for, relative to the reasonable life of the job and the scarcity of the skill needed to do it. NFL players aren't payed so much because they're famous or they're athletes, they are payed so much because less that 2,000 people can do what they do and on average they each do it for less that 4 seasons. THIS IS A JOB. Short of breaking the law, for which punishment is decided by the courts, why do they have to be role models? They don't choose to be role models, we choose to make them. These are guys trying to make a living to feed their families, just as we do for $40K over 50 years. They're job is to entertain us at the highest level possible for 4 years each, not to raise our kids for us. The fact that we are outraged at the idea of a criminal being a player is a commentary on the state of parenting in this country. We feel the need to blame other people when we should be the ones teaching our kids right and wrong. To expect all these players to be "role models" is unfair to them. I'm not condoning what these guys (Tank, Pac, Henry) do, fundamentally they are taking away years of their playing career if nothing else, but I'm saying that we need to stop expecting so mcuh from 22 year olds who get paid millions to play a game. Role models are the guy who works for 50 years at minimum wage, not athletes. It's high time we realized that."

We get to choose our role models. We get to choose what we watch on Sunday. If we choose to watch and glorify idiots, then that is our problem, not the idiots' problem.

The Funniest Thing I Have Read In A While

"In my evil, wicked fantasy world I imagine economics graduate students presenting their new Ph.d. dissertation ideas to a jury of four: Paul Lynde, Fred Thompson, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith."

I would love to present a research idea to Charles Barkley. Shit, I would love to talk to Charles Barkley.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Einstein Quote Of The Day

"The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the State but the creative, sentient individual, the personality..."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I Am A Mindless Monkey

I am a mindless monkey.

Thinking this is the easiest way to get through some days especially when you have to stop structurally procrastinating.

I am a mindless monkey.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Einstein Quote Of The Day

"It is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it."

Do I have it?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Other Quotes From The GTA Workshop

"There is nothing worse than the realization that life is absolutely meaningless. Here I sit, and I have wasted a whole day listening to people who like to talk rather than listen."

"It is not meaningless. It is the lack of control."

"Half of life is quickly covering up fuck-ups."

"Learning is a Hayekian discovery process. You cannot control it."

Preparing The Future Professoriate: Fifteenth Annual GTA Workshop

Thinking about a face
Whose name I cannot recall
A smile that made me
Want to fall and pray

Pray to the beauty that is the world
A face
A brilliant face
That I will never forget

I have forgotten
The name,
The place,
But that face
That brilliant face

Friday, June 22, 2007

Companies I Would Work For

1. Wal-Mart
I am a retail man through and through, and they are the best.

2. BBandT
I heard their CEO interviewed on EconTalk. He sounded like a Randite, not an Objectivist, but a Randite. It is about helping yourself while helping your customers. The CEO understood and verbalized this pretty well, especially for a CEO.

3. SuperValu
I have some experience with them, and I think they have the infrastructure to compete with Wal-Mart.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Things Are Getting Worse, But I Feel a Lot Better, And Thats All That Really Matters To Me"*

I have been distracted. I pulled out in front of someone. I drove past the gas station. I forgot to put my windows up in my car. I forgot to put my windows down at my apartment. I forgot my lunch.

And you know what?

I don't give a damn.

*From the Counting Crows' "Amy Hit The Atmosphere"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Other Things

1. I finished Stuart Evey's ESPN. For the last half, I read the first and last sentence of each paragraph, and only reading the middle when necessary. I got through it much faster but still got the main points. Old men must justify their lives. Good businessmen recognize opportunities but are also lucky. Communication is also important.

2. Sam and some kids from Hampton taught me that I am too fat to play basketball. It was pretty disgusting. I have neither the stamina nor the quickness to guard anyone. I mean anyone.

3. I have no idea what to do when I run out of things to do while attempting to structurally procrastination. ML keeps saying graduate students are not busy enough. They do not have enough variety. There are only so many bills to pay, before I have to get back to writing my papers. As usual, she is right.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Some Things

1. I saw A.D. Vassallo and Deron Washington playing basketball in the gym. I quickly ran into the other gym. I would rather play in the MLB or NFL, but I would rather be causally good at basketball. They had a grace that you rarely see.

2. My Dad seems to be a Fidel Castro sympathizer. Instead of blaming high sugar, corn, and ethanol prices on tariffs and ignorant American policy, he blamed it on the embargo with Cuba. "All we have to do is admit we are wrong, apologize to Fidel, and open up trade. All Fidel wanted to do was feed his country. We have plenty of sugar 30 miles off the coast of Florida. Those people (Cubans) want to trade with us."

He went on to say his Grandmother's favorite saying, "America will starve with money in their pockets." And added: "There are no small farmers in America anymore. Everybody is big. Prices will stay high, and we will starve. We need more farms."

My sister who I have must have had some influence on asked him why he did not have a garden. He replied, "Well maybe not a garden, but I think greenhouses are the answer. We should get a greenhouse. We should grow something."

I love my Father. It was Father's Day. So I shut up and said nothing.

Notice I do not support the embargo against Cuba, and American sugar policy is a travesty. But Fidel Castro is no saint, and Castro's communism should not be glorified. America should apologize for any embargo but not to Fidel Castro.

3. Structured procrastination is a smart way to look at things.

My worst days come when I do nothing. Yes this blog is just me not working on the papers I am supposed to be working on, but I am doing something. I spent most of this morning looking at Finally about 4 o'clock today, I decided that it was okay to not do the work I am supposed to be doing. But damn it, I have to do something. I lifted, shot basketball, paid some bills, fixed the air conditioner in the lab, and checked on some things.

Now I feel like working, but it is time to sleep.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Great Poetry

1. Duritz's "Mrs. Potter..."

2. Rudyard Kipling's "If"

"...If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with triumph and disaster And treat those two impostors just the same..."

They are impostors.

Three Of My Many Faults

1. I have to be in control.

My Dad's anti-alcohol anti-drug speech consisted of "I never liked being out of control." He quit smoking cigarettes when he lit another cigarette after having one already lit. He knew then he could not control his smoking, and he quit (and gained eighty pounds).

I have taken his message to heart. I cannot stand to be "out of control." I cannot stand to think my future or present is in someone else's hands. No matter if it is a simple party or meeting, I think I could organize it better.

2. I require others to boost my self-confidence.

This probably comes from my parents too. I define my worth by others' compliments and criticisms. I know this is stupid. But I still do it.

I am getting better. I think this is one of the things that age and perspective cures, but it takes time. And I might be wrong; it might get worse with age.

3. I believe in justice.

I care. I cannot let things go. I believe there is a proper way to act. There is right and not right.

I get involved in other people's struggles. Many times this involvement is a diversion from my own struggles.

These three things are really the same. But their sum leads to me being an angry and unfocused person.

It can also lead to perpetual unhappiness, but I can and will change.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Something Someone Said

I found this quote from Lord Kelvin in some old economics book "Whenever you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it. But when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind."

This illusion of objectivity, this myth of positivism, this faith in statistics was never meant to invade economics, but it has. The whole thing reminds of R.E.M's "Sad Professor":

R.E.M. - Sad Professor Lyrics

If we're talking about love
Then I have to tell you
Dear readers, I'm not sure where I'm headed.
I've gotten lost before.
I've woke up stone drunk
Face down in the floor.

Late afternoon, the house is hot.
I started, I jumped up.
Everyone hates a bore.
Everybody hates a drunk.

This may be a lit invention
Professors muddled in their intent
To try to rope in followers
To float their malcontent.
As for this reader,
I'm already spent.

Late afternoon, the house is hot.
I started, I jumped up.
Everyone hates a sad professor.
I hate where I wound up.

Dear readers, my apologies.
I'm drifting in and out of sleep.
Long silence presents the tragedies
Of love. Not the age. Get afraid.
The surface hazy with attendant thoughts.
A lazy eye metaphor on the rock.

Late afternoon, the house is hot.
I started, I jumped up.
Everyone hates a bore.
Everybody hates a drunk.
Everyone hates a sad professor.
I hate where I wound up.
I hate where I wound up.

By Kelvin's and the author of the book's logic, the most important things in life like love, liberty and happiness are unsatisfactory because they cannot be measured. This philosophy is doomed from the start.

Economists must recognize that there is a great amount of knowledge that is unmeasurable but very important and worthy of study.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Difference II

When Dad used to complain about his boss, Granddad would say "Quit or buy the place." Knowing full well he could do neither, Dad would shut up and work harder.

Freedom is having the ability to "Quit or buy the place." That freedom is the way my Granddad lived, it is what Dad has finally achieved, and it is what I crave.

But how can I buy a public university?

So I can either quit, or shut up and work harder.

The Difference

My grandfather used to say "the difference between a landlord and a renter is that the landlord owns the place."

There is an article on the front page of the Collegiate Times (I cannot find the article on the website) about tenants complaining about a developer buying their apartments and renovating them into luxury condos. The former tenants are worried about finding another place. They want government to step in and help them. They want special privileges.

But the landlord owns the place.

The Wisdom Of Ozzie Guillen

"Guillen said he's "100 percent" against steroid use but added it's "not my business" if others take them.

"I really don't worry about it," he said. "I have three kids and those are the only three people I care about. Everybody else, you do what you want to do.""

From this article

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Know I Am Late On This One

But YouTube is absolutely awesome.

I would have paid a significant amount of money just for the Springsteen, U2, and R.E.M. clips.

I dare anyone to say that YouTube would have happened in a communist country. I dare anyone to say that government can do anything except get in the way of YouTube.

Stupid Things I Have Said

My sister's friend is getting married. Like my sister, she is twenty two years old. I asked my sister what the over/under was on her friend's marriage. My intended effect was to irk my sister. I achieved that goal.

But my 29 year old cousin was also a little irked. He half-jokingly asked what was the over/under was on his marriage. He could stand to make a few extra bucks.

I halfway apologized, and said that my joke was a poor way to think and not funny.

But my foolishness can also be used to teach an economic lesson.

In today's world divorce happens. There is significant chance that my sister's friend will be divorced. By me asking for an over/under I was implicitly claiming that my sister's friend's marriage was a risky proposition. Give me the average length of marriages between people with similar characteristics, and I will give you an over/under. I was implicitly assuming the length of marriages are a predictable stochastic process.

My cousin and sister felt that the length of any given marriage was uncertain. There were no stochastic process just chaotic randomness.

I do not know who is right. But people who see risk where others see uncertainty can make a lot of money.

But first they have to find the courage to bet, then they have to be lucky.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sundays, Harleys, Death, Whores, And Pimps

Over Christmas my Dad commented that all businesses should be closed on Sunday. "That is the way it used to be with blue laws, and we still got everything done."

I retorted that motorcycles should be outlawed. I knew my Dad was an avid rider back in the day. I also knew his dream is to buy a big Harley and ride across the country. I also knew that one of my friends from high school and my Mom's co-worker's boyfriend had just died riding motorcycles too fast. "There are just too many unnecessary deaths from motorcycles."

We argued. He claimed that all I care about was money. This is his go-to argument. When he cannot defend his position with reason, or he gets flustered, then I am a greedy bastard who only cares about money. I said in a sarcastic tone, "What about my high school buddy? Don't you care about him?" The realization that I was using my friend's death as a semi-joke during an argument scared me and offended both of us. So we shut up, and the argument ended.

GGM called me a whore to a philosophy the other day. I said that we do not need collective planning, and that property rights take care of all of the problems that planners cannot and or refuse to see. If you do not want Wal-Mart, do not shop there. Do not zone them out or make them jump through hoops. Just do not shop there. GGM reasserted his faith in the collective, democracy, precedent, and all of those other things that do not impress me.

One of my favorite rhymes is: "I feel like a whore. I cannot do anything for free anymore." That rhyme sums up the transition between youth and adulthood. Children do not worry about salaries or opportunity costs. They just play. They just act.

But somehow most children learn to be adults. They learn to face the consequences of their actions. Some learn quicker than others. Some learn the hard way. Some die. Some hurt others. Good parents help, but bad parents do not doom. And in the end, most make it.

The fact that most people make it is why I think blue laws and planning is wrongheaded and futile. The fact that prohibition had to be repealed, that people back in the day still got drunk on Sunday, and that people still speed on motorcycles show that laws will never solve the perceived wrongs of society.

So Dad and GGM, liberty, property rights, and the right to choose are my pimps, are my masters. If that makes me a whore or slave, then so be it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Curse Of The Fan

I have a cubicle on the fourth floor of a building built before air conditioners. There are a few windows but many of the screens have disappeared and cannot be replaced. I still open these windows, but my colleagues do not like the possibility of birds, bugs and other creatures entering their humble “offices”.

It gets warm on the fourth floor in Virginia when there are no air conditioners. You really never get used to it. You are either always fighting sleep, drinking cold liquids, thinking about drinking intoxicating cold liquids, or wondering what would happen if you rubbed anti-perspent over your entire body. It is not a very productive situation.

As I was walking through my favorite department store, I had a brilliant idea. I needed a fan. I went to the fan section, and I was amazed that I had so many choices. I could only use a small desk fan, but I had several reasonable choices. I debated with myself for longer than I wanted, but I appreciated the air conditioned store. I finally chose a $6 Haier fan. It met all of my stringent requirements; it was cheap, small, quiet, and cheap. This fan would only be useful for two months, and it would be in my less than aesthetic workplace. I do not make enough money to spend a lot on a fan for my “cell”.

After putting my fan in the cart, I continued shopping. Most of my purchases consisted of beef and cheese. I also bought a few tomatoes and potatoes. As I was checking out, I was glad that the fan only cost $6. If it cost any more, I might have not purchased the expensive ice cream that cooled me so well after a long hot day in the office.

The fan works well. It makes my days more bearable. It is still hot, and I spend way too much time in the lounge, but on the whole I am really happy with my $6 fan.

I learned this morning that Haier is a Chinese company. A colleague chastised me for buying anything Chinese. I also read that politicians have called for trade barriers against China.

If we limit trade with China, who is really going to be hurt?

I certainly do not want to give up my fan.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Proposition To The Blacksburg Town Council

All businesses under 5000 square feet should be required to gain a special operating permit.

Small businesses pollute Blacksburg. Many are dirty. Many give poor service and barely pay minimum wage without insurance. Many shut down in the matter of months. Many are frequented by dregs.

Small non-box stores have no place in Blacksburg. They destroy the character of this wonderful town.

The town council must save us from reverting to the 20th century. They must require a special permit for small business.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Two Kinds Of Work

There is deadline work. One finishes something because it has to be done. One gives his best effort, but the final product is recognized to be a compromise.

There is masterpiece work. One takes his time. One concerns himself only with quality. A man could be standing with a gun demanding the work, and he would not give it up until it was truly finished.

Most work is deadline work. Most people never do masterpiece work. Some masterpiece work can only appreciated by its creator. Some people do not have the wherewithal to finish masterpiece work. Most successful people quickly learn that in the end it is all deadline work.

But the most successful people only know masterpiece work.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Calories Per Dollar

I eat like an economist. I maximize calories per dollar. Given my budget I try to eat as much as possible.

For example, I went to Arby's. They have this magnificent 5 for $5.95 promotion. When making my decision, I immediately gave up on a diet drink for mozzarella sticks. I can get something to drink anywhere. I ended with two Roast Beef Melts, a curly fry, an apple turnover and the mozzarella sticks. I would have been just as happy getting a chicken sandwich combo for a similar price. But I had to maximize the mythical "value" function. I had to indirectly maximize my calories per dollar.

ML likes to use red and yellow peppers. Red and yellow peppers are expensive. I could never justify using them. But last night I tried them. I was pleasantly surprised. They do add something special to a meal. Something that increases the quality without increasing the calories.

My eating behavior is going to haunt me for the rest of my life. I have to do something different. I can eat well and eat less at the same time. I need to add yellow and red peppers. I need to add flavor in lieu of calories to my diet.

I want to write some goals or some proclamations about what I am going to do, but that would be foolish.

No matter how much I try to change, I cannot escape my family roots. I will always get much pleasure out of eating. Like my grandfather and father, I will always live scared of not having enough to eat. I will always maximize my calories per dollar.

But I can try to get better.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Congressman Lantos Should Take His Actions Seriously And Resign

This shit makes me sick.

I love my dog. I would hate to see him suffer. I hate to see any living thing suffer. I would never participate in any type of animal fighting. I am not going to attempt to justify Vick's involvement with dog fighting. I do not think it should be illegal, but that is not what makes me sick.

This congressman's letter was a threat. It was a little man wielding power that he neither deserves nor can handle. I wish I could write a letter to him telling him that if he continues to pursue stupid shit like this, I would fire (not vote) for him. I wish he was informed on what liberty means and what government is supposed to do. This is how fascism starts. This is how Big Brother starts.

If I wrote on this blog that if the congressman Lantos had better resign or sanction himself or else I would take matters into my own hand, it would be considered (an empty) threat. I might even be thrown in jail. But he does it and, it is fine and fucking dandy.

It is almost time for another civil war. No let us just annex California.

In the end, the Vick brothers continue to disappoint. But government disappoints more.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Maybe This Will Help

I am trying to write a paper from my masters' thesis. Writing papers from masters' theses is never a good idea. The quality of the work is just not there. But I have to write a paper. It is my job.

My thesis is about the value people place on the environmental benefits from biotechnology. I come to some masters' level conclusions about practical issues concerning non-market valuation, the public good nature of biotechnology, and some behavioral issues with Filipinos.

I have two paper ideas that I cannot seem to expand upon.

The first paper idea concerns the valuation of research. Previous papers have concentrated on finished products, but I got values for research. Since much biotechnology is directly or indirectly funded by public dollars, it is interesting to see what values people place on research that will produce uncertain results.

The second paper idea concerns the practical issues of valuing environmental benefits especially in developing countries. The technique I develop addresses some of the major concerns of the valuation of environmental benefits from biotechnologies. This paper would be interesting because most previous studies use complex and expensive techniques, but I think my guesses are just as good if not better than their guesses.

I guess guessing makes the world go around. I guess I will write something.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Sam and I have been studying resistance, specifically insecticide resistance and antibiotic resistance. It is really a classic problem. It is the law of diminishing returns. You use something more, and it becomes worth less. When mosquitoes become resistant to the insecticides, Africans die of malaria. The same is true with antibiotics and bacteria except Westerners die too.

But I keep thinking that resistance is a wonderful problem to have. There has to be an effective product before resistance becomes worrisome. When there was no penicillin there was no resistance worries, and more people died.

I doubt if Sam or I can really contribute much to the resistance "problem." We certainly will not create the next drug that makes reisistance insignificant again.

But honestly I am not worried. It will work out.

Extra Thought
Sam has been reading about Black Swans. He is fascinated by them. I hope to comment later in the week.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Carole King's "Beautiful"

You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
The people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful as you feel

Waiting at the station with a workday wind a-blowing
I've got nothing to do but watch the passers-by
Mirrored in their faces I see frustration growing
And they don't see it showing, why do I?

You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
The people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful as you feel

I have often asked myself for reason for sadness
In a world where tears are just a lullaby
If there's any answer, maybe love can end the madness
Maybe not, oh, but we can only try

You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
The people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful as you feel

I have not turned into an optimist. I liked "Mirrored in their faces I see frustration growing, And they don't see it showing, why do I?"

Shit, maybe she has a point.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I Find This Incredibly Sad

Junior is leaving.

I guess we will see how good a driver Junior really is. He is always complaining about his car. I do not know. He will always be fighting his father's shadow.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another Dopeless Hope Fiend 2

This post builds on this one.

GGM says he looks at what I am eating then buys it at the store because he knows it was on sale. This statement made it on my compliments I care about list.

I am a smart shopper. I worked in a grocery store too long to not be one.

A key to smart shopping is to never be hampered by cash flow issues. If the 24 pack of soothing aloe vera toilet paper is on sale for $6, do not buy the generic 4 pack for $1.50 because it is "cheaper" and "my roommate's fat ass uses half of it anyway." A smart shopper can eat and live well while also being cheap.

Also never buy fresh berries, melons, or corn in the winter. They are the definition of a waste of money. They have no flavor and are expensive. It is better to go frozen in the winter. But in the summer, fresh fruit is heavenly.

Good luck to everyone and thank you GGM.

Yeah, I am still another dopeless hope fiend.

In my first post, I sugarcoated the first compliment. The guy called me simple. And that is okay.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

One Of Those Mornings

I wake up early, but get out of bed late. My Internet connection crawls. I miss the bus. I try to fix breakfast. I forgot to seal the cheese package yesterday. I eat it anyway. I wait for the next bus. I forget my MP3 player, my backpack, and half of my lunch.

I cannot stand the silence. I have spent the last thirty minutes debating whether to print the papers in my backpack again.

The rest of the day has to be better. I guess.

Monday, May 07, 2007


I hate the Yankees. I hate the Red Sox. I do not care about Roger Clemens, but this quote from a Bill Simmon's reader is funny: "This is historic ... who ever heard of a rat jumping ON a sinking ship?"

I am a Braves fan which means I have been tortured over the past 15 years more than any Cubs fan. Oh yeah, I do not like the Cubs either.

I wish I had the talent to write about sports for a living.

How To Read

After observing that others read more than I do and wanting to correct this imbalance, I have decided to not only buy and collect books but also read them.

The problem I have is if I really read a book, it takes time. I write in the book. I critique every page. There is no way I can do this with every book, and I have improved with my "before bed" books. I do not even have a pen near the bed. But I think I have to get more books through the "before bed" queue.

Currently my bedtime book is Stuart Evey's ESPN. I have read the first couple of chapters. It flows, but I think I have already got the deepest insights. Should I move on to something else? Should I finish it or skim it? Does ESPN have anything to contribute to my life? What would I be missing if I put it down now? What am I missing if I continue to read it?

The easy solution is to read more. But the theme of this blog comes out again: I don't know. And no one knows. It is foolish to search for answers to questions that do not matter.

Yesterday a preacher said, "We will always have doubts." I disagreed with his context, but he has a point.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I Am Not A Communist

The following statements are positive ideas. They do not reflect my normative opinions even though I use "should" too much.

(The following is mostly GGM's idea. I just expanded on it.)

The minimum wage "should" be tied to other factors like age and number of dependents. A minimum wage is supposed to help people eat. It is supposed to give them a "living wage." Because of their parents, teen aged lifeguards and burger flippers need less pay to eat and "live" than single mothers trying to support their children. It is ridiculous that both teenagers and single mothers face the same minimum wage. An individuals' minimum wage "should" depend on their situation.

Now of course, this leads to perverse incentives for businesses. They will only hire low wage teenagers. So there would also have to be tax breaks for employers that hire single mothers. This system could aide welfare reform also.

I am pretty sure that other countries already have a variable minimum wage. (This is mostly GGM's idea, but I just expanded on it.)

(The following idea comes from "100 Calorie Snack Packs".)

Instead of regulating individual foods, government could mandate container sizes. For example soda "should" only come in containers that held less than 200 calories. No 2 liter bottles or 24oz Big Shooters, people could only buy 10 ounce (200 calorie) cans.

Container regulation would help some people count calories and control their caloric intake. It would also raise the cost of food and effectively tax caloric intake by not allowing any economies of package size.

I am not a communist.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Point

I am avoiding work. But as my What It Takes post sums up, I do not know what I am avoiding. My last two posts show what I have been listening to. I have a single hair in my eyebrow that is over two inches long. I keep forgetting to cut it. It looks horrible. I do not give a damn. I have a roommate that will not voluntarily pay his rent. I have the right to exist. I am getting fatter by the minute. I want to exercise. But I have excuses. People tell me that I need to seek counseling. I do not have the time. I want to be great. I really do. But I am a realist. I am also an existentialist and a libertarian. I am twenty five years old. I dream of a time when happiness comes easy. I dream of linearity. But I see in three dimensional scatter diagrams. I have no idea what a 3-D scatter diagram is. I have always wanted to know the proper use of the ellipsis...

Well, "I will meet you at Mary's place," and I will "be the best I can."

"Tell Me, How Do You Live Broken-Hearted?"

Bruce Springsteen's "Mary's Place"

"Mary's Place"

I got seven pictures of Buddha
The prophet's on my tongue
Eleven angels of mercy
Sighin' over that black hole in the sun
My heart's dark but it's risin'
I'm pullin' all the faith I can see
From that black hole on the horizon
I hear your voice calling me

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain
Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain, let it rain
Meet me at Mary's place, we're gonna have a party
Meet me at Mary's place, we're gonna have a party
Tell me how do we get this thing started
Meet me at Mary's place

Familiar faces around me
Laughter fills the air
Your loving grace surrounds me
Everybody's here
Furniture's out on the front porch
Music's up loud
I dream of you in my arms
I lose myself in the crowd

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain
Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain, let it rain
Meet me at Mary's place, we're gonna have a party
Meet me at Mary's place, we're gonna have a party
Tell me how do you live broken-hearted
Meet me at Mary's place

I got a picture of you in my locket
I keep it close to my heart
A light shining in my breast
Leading me through the dark
Seven days, seven candles
In my window light your way
Your favorite record's on the turntable
I drop the needle and pray
Band's countin' out midnight
Floor's rumblin' loud
Singer's callin' up daylight
And waitin' for that shout from the crowd
Waitin' for that shout from the crowd
Waitin' for that shout from the crowd
Waitin' for that shout from the crowd
Waitin' for that shout from the crowd
Waitin' for that shout from the crowd

Turn it up, turn it up, turn it up
Turn it up, turn it up, turn it up, turn it up

Meet me at Mary's place, we're gonna have a party
Meet me at Mary's place, we're gonna have a party
Tell me how do we get this thing started
Meet me at Mary's place

Meet me at Mary's place
Meet me at Mary's place

"My Family And Friends Are The Best Thing I've Known"

John Cougar Mellencamp's "Minutes To Memories"

On a Greyhound thirty miles beyond Jamestown
He saw the sun set on the Tennessee line
He looked at the young man who was riding beside him
He said "I'm old kind of worn out inside
I worked my whole life in the steel mills near Gary
And (like) my father before me I helped build this land
Now I'm seventy-seven and with God as my witness
I earned every dollar that passed through my hands
My family and friends are the best thing I've known
Through the eye of the needle I'll carry them home"

Days turn to minutes
And minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams
That we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out
And be the best you can

The rain hit the old dog in the twilights last gleaming
He said "Son it sounds like rattling old bones
This highway is long but I know some that are longer
By sunup tomorrow I guess I'll be home"
Through the hills of Kentucky cross the Ohio River
The old man kept talking bout his life and his times
He fell asleep with his head against the window
He said "An honest man's pillow is his peace of mind
This world offers riches and riches will grow wings
I don't take stock in those uncertain things"

Days turn to minutes
And minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams
That we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out
And be the best you can

The old man had a vision but it was hard for me to follow
I do things my way and I pay a high price
When I think back on the old man and the bus ride
Now that I'm older I can see he was right

Another hot one out on highway eleven
This is my life its what I've chosen to do
There are no free rides no one said it'd be easy
The old man told me this my son Im telling it to you

Days turn to minutes
And minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams
That we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out
And be the best you can

Friday, May 04, 2007

Morning Reads

1. Russ Roberts is long but sharp.

2. Bridgewater will rule the ODAC once again.

3. Here is one of my professors' paper on "sex offender" stigma. I have not went over it carefully, and I am always skeptical of the inferential statistics. But I think the implication that people cannot separate between a sexual predator and sex offender is an interesting suggestion. This stigma effect has implications for health and other facets of life also. For example genetically modified products have fell under a stigma.

4. Jason Whitlock does it again. The thing I appreciate about Whitlock is that he is not afraid to question. I do not always agree with him, but I always finish his articles.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What It Takes

I have been in graduate school for four years.

I have no idea what it takes to succeed at being a graduate student. I have no idea what I am supposed to be doing. I have no idea what I am supposed to be learning. I have no idea what I will be doing in the future. I have no idea of what it takes.

I have a bunch of clues. But they do not fit together. Do we strive to get good grades? Do we strive to do publishable research? Do we strive to finish for finishing's sake?

When I was playing football winning was the goal. When I was in the video or the grocery store profits were the goal. Of course there were gray areas. Of course achieving the objective was difficult and somewhat complex. But at the end of the day I came away with a better understanding of what it takes.

It is the end of the day, and I still have no better idea of what it takes then when I came here four years ago.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

An Unappreciated Subject In Economics

Pricing rules, no individual stores create their own prices. Everything is a suggested retail price (SRP) that most retailers follow. These SRPs are usually set up through some mark-up rule. A certain department or product line should generate this amount of profit and this percentage is multiplied by the cost of the product. There might be some demand estimation in the determination of the mark-up level, but at the store level and the individual product level no one worries about demand and only considers the cost.

The prevalence of mark-up rules help demonstrate how competitive United States markets are.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

When I Was A Kid

When I was around 10 to 12 years old I created this fictitious band called The Organic Mangoes.

The name The Organic Mangoes was a mix between box of mangoes my Dad received at the store and U2's original name The Virgin Prunes.

The band was completely fictitious. Its only reality was in my head and on a few pieces of paper where I wrote The Organic Mangoes' song titles.

The Organic Mangoes' guitarist's name was Ghost and always wore a ski mask. I imagined myself being Ghost.

The Organic Mangoes' greatest hits included Psychedelic Castle (a tribute to Hendrix's Spanish Castle Magic) and Riverboat Gambler (I was reading Twain and I was into Rush's Tom Sawyer).

The Organic Mangoes did not tour much. In fact they did not like their own music. They were disinterested in fame, but they were incredibly rich because they sold more albums than anyone else and their few shows always sold out (the disinterested founding fathers and stoicism infatuated me).

The Organic Mangoes were never happy. They were always searching for a perfection that did and could not exist. But they were rich and famous.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fat And Stupid

I ate two pork barbecue sandwiches, a spicy hot dog, chips, and cookies for dinner. I came home and ate a Nutella (which is heavenly) bagel. I am dehydrated from drinking diet soda all day.

These have been stressful times, but as my old coach used to say, "Push away from the table, you fat ass, push away from the table."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Poor Attempt At Getting Back To Normal

What I Am Reading

1. My bedtime book is Chuck Palahniuk's Stranger Than Fiction. I thought his first few stories were very slow. I almost put it down. Now I cannot wait to finish it. Here is an interesting site about Chuck. Here is an interesting essay.

2. My shitter book is Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom. I am having a hard time with it and might switch to Buchanan's Cost and Choice.

I do not have a bus book right now.

I hope the following quote does not offend anyone, but I just remembered Springsteen's "It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive." I mourn the dead. I am saddened by their tragic deaths. I hope I can find the strength to do better.

Jeff emailed me yesterday about how the event has motivated him. I hope it motivates me also. "It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive"as long as you live like you're glad to be alive.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


1. I wish they had put a moratorium on non-essential Emails for a few days.

2. I wish NBC would have destroyed the video and pictures. Or at the very least, I wish they never let them go public. Finding out about them last night hurt me.

3. I wish they had canceled activities for next Monday also. Next Monday is going to be a rough day.

4. I wish I knew what to do. I see people going back to their normal lives, and part of me wants to follow their lead. Another part wants to sleep and play video games all day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Going Through Emotions

This morning all I could think about was the robots, professors and students who could not grasp the situation. People who would bury themselves in their meaningless work just to do something. Everyone grieves in different ways, but I know some people who will use this time to further themselves. I am afraid of a professor taking me or another student to task for not have some assignment done. I do not like the feeling that I have to be working during these next few days to compete with classmates. I do not like the feeling that I have to keep pushing to further my career. We have to reflect on the events of the day. We have to stay awake. We have to feel. I am afraid many of the people that surround me have trained themselves not to feel.

By midday with the help of GGM, ML, Sam, and Jeff, I started to see that my post from yesterday written before I knew exactly what happened still held some relevance. There is no use to drown in grief. You have to recognize it, but that does not mean it can conquer you.

The convocation and vigil helped put more things in perspective. It is okay to be angry. It is okay to be hurting. But it is also okay to be alive. It is okay to worry about myself. It is okay for life to slowly but surely move forward.

But it is and will be hard.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Age Of Terror

Some kid decided to play terrorist.

And I am locked down in an office as one hundred police look for a possible second shooter. Beside me is a Chinese colleague studying statistics. American undergraduate students are worrying about food. I am here asking myself what the hell I am doing with my life.

I am not scared, but I am not productive either. Maybe that is what terrorists want.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Whitlock Does It Again

Read this.

"A man who doesn’t respect himself wastes his breath demanding that others respect him."

Whitlock is the only sports writer willing to talk about anything of importance. ESPN's Page 2 has gone to hell since he left.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Little Children Review

I went home this weekend. For 36 hours, I was content, not overly happy, but satisfied.

We were playing Wiffle Ball. I was enjoying life. Then a fly ball was hit my way. I misjudged it and it ended up rolling off my fingertips. I dropped it. What really bothered me was I could not move. I was scared to run, scared to go full speed. Now there are a multitude of reasons for this impediment. I am fat. The yard is not level. There is a big ditch. My shoes gave me no support. I am slow. I have not played Wiffle Ball for five years. I almost tore my achilles on an earlier play. I have a rod in my leg, etc.

But I could not go full speed. It is a metaphor for my life. But I am too content to dwell on my inadequacies. So I am going to review Little Children.

Every character in Little Children is screwed up. The convicted felon cannot stop playing with his dick in front of people . The adulterer is a law school graduate who wants to play football, forget about the bar exam, and not be hen pecked. The adulteress (Kate Winslet) is the house mom who wants to be a writer. The adulterer's wife cares more about money than her husband's manhood. The adulteress' husband cares more about a niche porn star than his wife. Their children are not in school yet but have multiple personality issues.

Everybody in America is screwed up. I do not know if it has to do with wealth. Maybe hunters-gatherers never had time to allow themselves to be screwed up. I do not know.

But the characters are all like me on the Wiffle Ball field. They are scared to run full speed. At the end, something happens to each of them and they go balls to the wall for a few minutes.

And the end gives the audience hope, but I wonder if that hope lasts.

Monday, April 09, 2007

This Isn't Bad

We were going to run away
To a place
Where only we could find ourselves
You and I

But no more

I don't believe in love
Never have
Now I never will

Purity like virginity like innonence
Cannot last

Sometimes it is lost in haste
We cry that it was a waste

Sometimes time takes it away
That is no better

It is still gone

Friday, April 06, 2007

Playing The Game

I saw two con men today. Both got their PhDs in economics from MIT. Both were incredibly smart. Both had given up on a better world.

One was Paul Krugman.

Maybe they were right. But I am still going to do whatever I want.

I am not going to be scared.

Jeff, Academia, And Life

Yesterday Jeff sent me one of those Emails. One of those Emails that arrive at the exact right time. He spelled out what was important in life then asked me why I was doing what I was doing. If it was out of fear of failure, then I needed to change. If I was a zombie then I needed to live.

Most everyone in academia is scared, scared of not getting tenure, scared of not getting grants, scared of society seeing their unimportance. It is a real sad place. I have never had anyone in academia spell out what success entails like Jeff did in his Email. Most academics say success is not failing. Getting tenure is meaningless, but not getting tenure is devastating. Publishing articles no reads is meaningless, but not publishing articles is something much worse.

I admit I can and have gotten trapped by this fear from time to time..

But I am not going to be afraid to fail anymore. I can do the work I want, and if it does not pan out then so be it. I am going to be my own boss, no matter if I have to answer to others who get a big thrill out of being other people's boss.

The three most liberating things I have done in my life are pissing on a trash barrel full of burning trash (oh the sizzle), pissing off the front porch when my Mom wasn't looking, and pissing in a sink at a UVA game when the urinals were full. From now on, I am going to feel like that everyday.

Days Without Decisions

There are days when everything is easy
Days without decisions
Rainy days when all you need is an umbrella

But then there are other days
Sunny days
Shorts or jeans
Jacket or not
Sun-block or chance it

I wonder what I live for:
That beautiful couple standing in line
Were they really wasting their youth?
Or am I?

I know what I have to believe
I know it is right
I know I will never see that blond beauty

But maybe I already have
I have seen beauty
Beauty that boyfriend has given up
That is True
I am one of the lucky few

But those sunny days
Those fucking bright and sunny days
They make me wonder:
What if I had gone the other way?