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?

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Jason Whitlock tells it like it is.

Be Happy

1. Some people want to be treated like crap. Be happy that you are not one of those people.

2. Most people have a lot of flaws. Some people do not want to admit them. Be happy that you are not one of these people, and be happier that you are not in relationships with people like this.

3. Most people have a lot of good qualities. Concentrating on the good qualities helps one get through life without unnecessary suffering. This is the most important thing I have learned from my Filipino colleagues.

4. Most people have difficulty balancing their flaws and good qualities. The key is recognizing these flaws and these good qualities and striving for balance, because the flaws will not go away.
The take-home point here is that you can spend your whole life asking why and never finding any answers, but you still have to live. It is just as well to be happy.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

You Cannot Make A Zombie Live

When I first went to college I had a chip on my shoulder. I was so scared of failing, so scared of having to beg my father for forgiveness that I studied all of the time. I went to practices and studied. In the summer I wage labored. Studying, practicing, and laboring was the extent of my life.

The first year and half of my Masters' program was the same. My parents came down to move me into a dorm (yes a dorm) at the beginning of my second year, and I got them lost trying to find an off-campus place to eat.

I was a zombie. I was walking dead. I had created my reality that centered on studying, eating on campus, fantasizing about female undergraduates, and Internet porn.

It was a sad state of affairs. But I was dead and could not realize how sad it was.

I then got slapped in the face by the ignorance, lies, fear, and ego that surrounds PhD programs and academia in general. I got deeply depressed when I saw the insignificance of my existence. I saw that I was never going to be great at anything, and decided it was finally time to wake up and live. I also met people (like ML and Jeff) who saw the same things I saw but had decided that life was better when you were awake instead of asleep.

Sometimes I want to return to who I was. It was an easy way to live. I was less depressed. My emotional sanity did not go up and down like it does now. But I would rather know that I was miserable than be too dumb to realize it.

Now I see people who refuse to live, people like my former self, and it angers me. I want them to get it.

But you cannot make a zombie live. You cannot make the blind see. I am the only one who can live my life, and that has to be good enough.