koala, bling, mox, koaladoll, eucad

The Story of the Shark Ghost

So, my friend and co-worker Chrissy is afraid of ghosts. And sharks. This weekend I mentioned this to Robert and he got a great idea and called her, anonymizing his call. His whole end of the conversation was basically "Hello? This is the ShaAaAaAark GhoOoOoOost." End call.
This set off a surprisingly epic typhoon of brainstorming and interneting. We created some google accounts and sent her text messages as well as facebooking, etc.
Collapse )
koala, bling, mox, koaladoll, eucad

Alex W., actually any socialist.

In October of 2008 I started an email and gchat correspondence with a high schooler from Chesterfield named Alex. I met him on the local magic forums, stlmtg.com. It was there that I discovered that we deeply disagreed politically. He seemed like such a smart kid, I felt that a few email conversations might be enough to bring him around to an understanding of politics and economics similar to mine.

At the time he was a staunch advocate of social democracy, and far better than average high schooler in terms of his level of informedness when it came to politics, or so I thought. We have met and spoken in person a handful of times since beginning our online discussions.

We didn't speak that frequently, and it was almost always initiated by him, iirc. I enjoyed the idea that I might be able to show him what I saw as a wonderful thing: free markets and economic efficiency through prices, etc. Our conversations followed a pretty regular pattern. Everything would start out very well. I was usually excited to be sure that he had read my latest suggestion or thought about the latest idea I'd pointed out. It usually wouldn't take long until I got so frustrated and angry talking to him that I would begin to get sarcastic and angry, at which point I'd excuse myself from the conversation.

I didn't know how long it would go on at the start, I guess I thought it wouldn't take more than a few back and forth emails, maybe a couple weeks. Mary reminded me that he is young, and I was much older and took a while when I came around to these ideas, but I guess I just don't have the patience for him anymore. I posted our latest conversation in my previous livejournal post (http://zaxec.livejournal.com/44599.html), and I've blocked him on gchat. I don't look forward to speaking to him in the future. At some point I will post our complete correspondence online somewhere, as there are probably one or two people who'd be interested in reading it. Veen, I'm thinking of you especially.

I hope in the future I can find the patience to speak with others who disagree with me as strongly as he did.
koala, bling, mox, koaladoll, eucad

I just blocked Alex W. on Gchat.

11:53 AM Alex: hello?
11:57 AM me: hey
11:58 AM Alex: are you busy?
 me: not really
12:00 PM Alex: I gave up social democracy recently
12:01 PM me: oh?
  what system do you presently favor?
  and what made you let that go?
12:02 PM Alex: answer to q2 is reading Zizek, Debord and Kropotkin
12:03 PM me: I can def get behind anarcho communism much more than state communism
 Alex: how is that not the complete antithesis of anarcho-capitalism?
12:04 PM me: "no government; private property" is more the opposite of "total government; public properry"
12:05 PM I think that anarcho communist communities and anarcho capitalist communitites could peacefully coexist, with a healthy respect for one another's borders
12:06 PM Alex: the capitalists wouldn't allow it
 me: although it is certainly correct for people like you and I to talk about the merits of public vs private property
  Capitalism is not corporatism
  it's not about coercion, it's about trade
12:07 PM Alex: you can stop things without ever being coercive
12:08 PM eg, the way the American media has villanized communism and restricted political debate
  without ever doing anything forceful
 me: I won't accuse the workers of wanting to cross the border and murder the factory owner if you won't accuse the factory owner of wanting to cross the border and "enslave the workers"
12:09 PM I submit that the american media has villainized captialism
 Alex: capitalists do not have a historical record of being kind towards revolutionaries
12:10 PM me: first of all
  captialists are not all one group
  second of all
  revolutionaries are not all one group
12:11 PM if it is the case that there are abundant historical examples of capitalists opposing revolutionaries, and there almost certainly is, I can tell you why
  but the answer is predicated on the notion of private property
12:12 PM they recognized that a violent insurrection was likely to devalue their property through nationalization or outright desctruction in many cases
  you may see this as moral or correct, but I do not
12:13 PM I trust you have found through your reading that a state is more likely to result in oppression and coercion than equality of opportunity
  or justice
  I agree with this
 Alex: It's one thing to say something isn't moral, and another to actually prevent it from happening
 me: well, if you believe something to be immoral, do you not have an incentive to stop it?
12:14 PM Alex: It's one thing to want to stop something, and another to actually stop it
12:15 PM me: please elaborate
 Alex: I can say that some corporation should have better overseas labor practices
12:16 PM but I can't make nike pay them more
 me: well, this is a question of power
  if you could, you would.
12:17 PM Alex: point is I can't
 me: consider the following statement:
  revolutionaries do not have a historical record of being kind towards capitalists
12:18 PM Alex: because they are the main source of oppresion in the world in which revolutionaries spring up
 me: interesting
  I disagree
 Alex: states are an extension of bourgeois interests
12:19 PM me: I think that your notions of class were outdated shortly after they were coined.
 Alex: bourgeois/proletarian?
 me: yeah
 Alex: the latter has gotten much more ambiguous, but the former still holds its meaning
12:20 PM bourgeois interests don't necessarily mean interests of an individual
12:21 PM the main problem I see with "buying a commune space" is that there likely won't be sufficient capital to do so.
12:22 PM me: Marx himself did not understand how the capitalism against which he railed would foster an environment in which the most productive would reap the greatest rewards, and that prices for all goods would obey a sharp downward trend over time, making all things accessible to the least in society, especially provided they work hard.
  There have been and are a number of communes in america and the world
12:23 PM capital is much easier to come by than you think.
 Alex: only proving the ineffectiveness of such communes
  it isn't about establishing a plot of land where 100 hippies can practice subsistence farming
12:25 PM I am almost certain marx understood that, and simply found it irrelevant. I don't have a source to point to, but I am absolutely positive his predeccesors did
12:27 PM critique of capitalism goes beyond simply poverty
 me: tell me more, then
12:28 PM Alex: capitalism defines every aspect of our life
  because every aspect of our life is economic
12:29 PM consider a specific point, eating disorders
12:30 PM In a lot of cases, they are a result of a desire to achieve some sort of unachievable image, which has been created by advertising, media, cultural standards, etc
12:31 PM here's a point out of the zizek book I'm reading:
  the poor are more satisfied with life than the middle class
  because the poor compare themselves with the middle class, easily attainable, while the middle class compares themselves with the super-rich, difficult to attain
12:32 PM guy debord makes a point about consumerism, let me see if I can find the quote
12:34 PM not the quote I was looking for, but more relevant: "Economic growth has liberated societies from the natural pressures that forced them into an immediate struggle for survival; but they have not yet been liberated from their liberator."
12:35 PM me: I read that debord quote differently
 Alex: "The spectacle is a permanent opium war designed to force people to equate goods with commodities and to equate satisfaction with a survival that expands according to its own laws. Consumable survival must constantly expand because it never ceases to include privation. If augmented survival never comes to a resolution, if there is no point where it might stop expanding, this is because it is itself stuck in the realm of privation. It may gild poverty, but it cannot transcend it. "
 me: "capitalism has provided the means for us to improve our lot. let us do away with it"
12:36 PM Alex: capitalism has given us means to survive, but not freedom
 me: "the poor are more satisfied with life than the middle class
because the poor compare themselves with the middle class, easily attainable, while the middle class compares themselves with the super-rich, difficult to attain" I do not see a problem with this arrangement.
12:37 PM what is freedom, then?
 Alex: not being forced to sell your labor in exchange for goods
 me: whence cometh goods if not from labor?
12:38 PM Alex: The point of the poor/middle/rich is that greater wealth does not equate greater satisfaction or greater happines
 me: capitalism is the name we have given to the system of private property and trade. it has been coopted by the left in some instances to mean big businesss interests
 Alex: so to say that capitalism has increased wealth, and therefore is good, misses the point
12:39 PM me: nearly everyone knows that more wealth does not equate to more happiness, that's why most people work shorter hours rather than longer
 Alex: debord talks about that too
12:40 PM me: I have a point to make about economics sometime
  I will wait for your answer first
12:41 PM Alex: to which one?
  (12:37:49 PM) Josh Smith: whence cometh goods if not from labor?
  from labor, yes
 me: no, I want to know what debord says about people choosing how much to work and how hard
12:42 PM Alex: this one takes a while to explain, i'll try to find some key quotes
 me: while you compile that I will make my case for econ
  economics is not the study of how to get rich, or how companies can be best run.
12:43 PM it is the study of scarcity and choice.
  we face limited resources on this planet
  limited food, air and water. limited manpower, limited minerals and lumber
  one of the main limits is location
12:44 PM virtually every population center is built around a water source or on a coast because for hundreds of years, overland transportation was so expensive that it couldn't really compete with aquatic travel
  so people shipped everything by "ship"
12:45 PM this scarcity of location is but one example of the need to perform cost-benefit analysis
  what do we gain by founding our city in the desert or on the plain far from a river or sea, and what will it cost?
12:46 PM there are all manner of questions of this nature that people are faced with at every turn
  scarcity and choice
 Alex: long quote, I read everything you wrote so far
  This perspective is obviously linked to the continual and rapid increase of leisure time resulting from the level of productive forces our era has attained. It is also linked to the recognition of the fact that a battle of leisure is taking place before our eyes, a battle whose importance in the class struggle has not been sufficiently analyzed. So far, the ruling class has succeeded in using the leisure the revolutionary proletariat wrested from it by developing a vast industrial sector of leisure activities that is an incomparable instrument for stupefying the proletariat with by-products of mystifying ideology and bourgeois tastes. The abundance of televised imbecilities is probably one of the reasons for the American working class’s inability to develop any political consciousness. By obtaining through collective pressure a slight rise in the price of its labor above the minimum necessary for the production of that labor, the proletariat not only extends its power of struggle, it also extends the terrain of the struggle. New forms of this struggle then arise alongside directly economic and political conflicts. It can be said that up till now revolutionary propaganda has been constantly overcome within these new forms of struggle in all the countries where advanced industrial development has introduced them.
12:47 PM me: I get the point, though by a heavy hand
12:48 PM the question who's answer is taken for granted by the author is "what would the masses stand to gain be armed revolution?"
  he assumes the answer is something like "freedom" or "awakening"
  I say the answer is "a new set of chains"
12:49 PM back to my discourse
  every day, individuals living in any form of society face a question: "how shall I spend my time"
12:50 PM it is hoped that they will spend their time doing what makes them most happy, or leads them closer to personal fulfillment.
  unfortunately, this comes at a cost.
  after all, each person has many wants and needs
  food, clothing and shelter are merely the beginning, but it is obvious that these alone require much work to obtain
12:51 PM "how shall these things be produced and distributed?" is a legitimate question worth asking.
12:52 PM economists recognize an important tenet which is almost certainly tautological, but nevertheless needs careful consideration for it's policy implications are vast and penetrating
  People respond to incentives.
12:53 PM when something is free, people over-consume or over-use it. When something is expensive, people forego consumption or economize their use.
12:54 PM Alex: only in a capitalist society
 me: what?
12:55 PM Alex: in a capitalist society, you have interest only in yourself. That is what is economically rational
  when something is free, people will only over-consume or overuse it if they are acting in their own material self-interest
12:56 PM In a more collectivist society, people consider the implications that their actions have on others.
12:57 PM me: what incentivizes people to do so?
 Alex: empathy
12:58 PM me: are you suggesting that living in a communist society will cause people to exhibit more empathy?
 Alex: yes
 me: there is another problem
12:59 PM the problem of what to produce and how much, and using which resources.
1:00 PM this problem has never seen a better solution than the system of prices to allocate resources. Mises and Hayek criticized the communists in the early twentieth century as having no satisfactory answer to the Economic Calculation Problem
1:01 PM since then not only has no satisfactory answer been found, but every communist group that was not religious in nature and thus viewed poverty as virtuous, has suffered from dramatic shortages of basic necessities and other goods
1:02 PM Alex: I wasn't aware there have been wide-scale communist groups that existed for an extended period of time
1:03 PM me: soviets? chinese?
 Alex: they were state capitalist
  means of production were moved from private individuals to the state
1:06 PM me: my mistake
1:07 PM lack of historical datapoints in no way detracts from the problem that firms and individuals will have no incentive to economize even slightly or switch to substitutes in the absence of prices. This goes beyond mere empathy
1:08 PM Alex: people like doing things well. If there's a more efficient way to do something, they will find it

10 minutes
1:19 PM me: some people like doing new things
  other people like sticking with what they know
1:20 PM Alex: In what way?
1:21 PM me: ever wonder why hospitals don't have more elaborate technology in terms of records? they still do most things on paper. because doctors are used to it and it works
  it's less efficient, but they don't want to change
1:22 PM there are countless examples of similar things throughout the history of industry
 Alex: and capitalist society forces them to be more effiicient?
 me: in fact, the chief job of capitalists is to risk their personal wealth trying new methods
1:23 PM if they succeed, they gain market share and the old way of doing things type businesses either adapt or go out of business
  most workers are not inclined to change production methods
 Alex: One of the reasons people are conservative is because they cannot make risks
  conservative in their methods
1:24 PM me: they can, but they don't want to face the consequences of loss
1:25 PM Alex: right, because the consequences are larger than they need to be
 me: for every successful innovator in the history of business, there are at least 2 and probably more like 10 guys you won't hear about because they lost their shirt
  that's a value judgment
  need is relative
  different people rank different things differently
1:26 PM I would rather sleep outside than drink milk, but this is a meaningless preference
  some people would rather risk homelessness at a chance to live comfortable
1:27 PM or above that
 Alex: the consequence of going out of business in a capitalist society is your liveliness
 me: right
 Alex: in a communist society, the consequence is simply the fact that we've lost a business
  or, that the new method of doing things turned out to be less efficient
1:28 PM what risks are we talking about?
 me: realize that businesses exist to produce wealth
  losing one may have bigger consequences than you think, especially when the incentives to start a new one are not closely tied to the costs and benefits the business entails
1:30 PM Alex: what kind of risks?

8 minutes
1:38 PM me: when you inquire after risks are you wondering "what is lost if the risked venture fails" "what is gained if it succeeds" or "what sorts of ventures are risks taken on"?
1:39 PM Alex: what causes a venture to fail?
1:40 PM me: expenditures exceed revenues?
1:43 PM Alex: 1 sec, watching the daily show

8 minutes
1:51 PM Alex: expenditures and revenues would not exist in a communist society
1:52 PM me: scarcity and preference would
1:53 PM expenditures and revenue are a reflection of supply and demand
 Alex: I don't really see what kind of risks you're talking about
  can you give a specific example?
1:55 PM me: clipper ships
  steam engines
  building any particular road or bridge
  opening another pants factory
1:56 PM every business decision that exists is balancing risk vs reward
 Alex: there would be no risk to individuals
  only risks to communities, which would be very small
1:57 PM people would look to improve methods whenever possible
 me: why?
 Alex: empathy
 me: and why should the community, which stands to lose the most, listen?
  that is not an answer
1:58 PM Alex: all decisions would be a collective action.
1:59 PM why do people volunteer for, say, habitat for humanity?
 me: because they don't realize they would be more productively employed elsewhere in the economy?
2:00 PM Alex: Are you saying altruism doesn't play any role?
 me: it does
  that is why they do it
  that and a lack of understanding of economics
 Alex: er?
2:01 PM me: well
  prices allocate things
  in the absence of a superior system of allocation, prices are our most efficient means of allocation
2:02 PM profits are the chief price signal for allocation
  this is why non-profits are inherently inefficient
2:04 PM Alex: do you agree that it is degrading to put a monetary value on work?
 me: no I don't
  do you think it is?
2:05 PM Alex: yes
  consider a band that "sells out"
 me: go on
 Alex: they create music not to be artistic, but to be most popular
2:06 PM me: what's wrong with that?
  I don't want to make music other people won't like either
  I also don't make very much music
  is it degrading to put a monetary value on potatoes?
 Alex: let me try and explain this
2:07 PM me: let me instead
  money is not a chain, it is a useful yardstick
  it gives us a measure of things
2:08 PM if a farmer works all year and sells his produce for a certain amount of money, and the next year it sells for more, he can get more things
 Alex: I understand that
 me: if he instead traded his produce directly for things, he would not necessarily know that he had produced more total value, as it would be difficult to compare the things he got in each year side-by-side
2:09 PM Alex: the barter system is also degrading
 me: when we see that he worked all year and created some number of pounds of potatoes and corn and meat, approximately ex nihilo, this tells us the value of his labor
2:10 PM if he had instead produced a concerto, we could say that society gave up that much food to gain a concerto
  life on earth is defined by such tradeoffs
 Alex: i understand that
 me: economists call it opportunity cost
2:11 PM the advantage to putting prices on things is that people show their preferences by buying and selling
  thus if people pay him to hear the concerto, then we can compare the value of the concerto to the value of the food and see if society is better served by him farming or him composing
2:12 PM Alex: ok
  I'll start with something more basic
  you agree there are things of value that people do they shouldn't be paid for, correct?
2:13 PM me: I doubt it
  give me an example
 Alex: being a nice person
  complimenting someone
  giving someone a present, doing someone a favor
2:14 PM me: yes, but I can't penalize someone for not acting that way
 Alex: you would if you could?
2:15 PM me: no
 Alex: why not?
 me: most people act nice because they want other people to do the same
  that's not how resource allocation works
 Alex: that is absolutely not why people act nice
2:16 PM me: enlighten me
  because of christ or buddha or mohammed?
 Alex: no
  because they are born with empathy and altruism
 me: yeah
 Alex: both are legitimate emotions which influence their actions
 me: most 2-year olds exhibit plenty of both
2:17 PM "born with"
  you think that?
 Alex: yes, they are born with the capacity to be empathetic
2:18 PM me: they are also born with the capacity to voluntarily enslave themselves to serving as a whip-driven laborer
  most people won't do that
  capacity and tendency are two VERY different things
2:19 PM Alex: the former is intrinsic, the latter is a result of society and environment
 me: agreed
  there is a problem here
2:20 PM I can agree that society may be structured in such a way, not by design, but naturally, to praise self-sacrifice and virtue. THIS WILL NOT BEGET ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY
  economic efficiency is about being stingy.
  so that you do not WASTE precious resources
2:21 PM Alex: it isn't even about self-sacrifice
2:22 PM it's about altruism. People all have an interest in an economically efficient society, thus they will seek to create it
 me: but without prices, they won't know how to do it
  this is an information problem
  and you don't seem to understand that
2:23 PM Alex: there are ways to determine demand without prices
 me: yes, and they are less precise
  same with supply
2:24 PM Alex: I could notice that my store is out of bananas, and inform the supplier
  also, wants are determined by opportunity
  some people may just be happy with whatever is available
 me: very true
2:25 PM I refuse to hinge my belief on what is proper on whether people can be happy living at 14th century subsistence
 Alex: prices are not precise either
 me: true
  they are merely the best tool we have
2:26 PM studying a little price theory may help you to understand this
 Alex: price theory necessitates capitalism
  which makes them horrible measures
  in theory, price theory is great, but that ignores the other aspects of capitalism which influence an individual's perception of value
2:27 PM conspicuous consumption, for example
2:28 PM me: conspicuous consumption is a narrow region of the total market
  hardly a damning encapsulation of captialism
 Alex: the fact that advertisement influences desires
  as well as comparison to others
2:29 PM me: I submit that you underestimate the net depressionary effect on standard of living of abandoning a price system
  moreover, if you want a better life in a capitalist society, you have but to work harder. If you want the same in a communist society, it is not to be had at any price
2:30 PM Alex: I submit that you underestimate how much more efficient communism would be than capitalism
 me: wow
 Alex: consider all the jobs which exist simply to enforce capitalism
  grocery store clerks
2:31 PM security guards
 me: how would one enforce murder in ancom?
2:32 PM Alex: and how many jobs involve middlemen trying to decrease price, while not actually creating wealth.
  and how many jobs could simply be performed by small collective ation, cleaning for example
 me: i submit that under communism people would work a LOT less, and would by and large produce what they like or what they think others would like, not what people want to buy.
2:33 PM small collective action is not as efficient as specialization
 Alex: first off, motivation to commit murder would be significantly reduced
 me: doctors should not be sweeping.
2:34 PM Alex: I'm not suggesting they do
  I am suggesting people keep their floors cleaner in the first place
 me: for the record, you have said that in a communist system, people will be less likely to commit murder
 Alex: yes
 me: ok

after this I blocked him.
koala, bling, mox, koaladoll, eucad

Ancestral Recall, other power.

This will be short. I just want to get this down for posterity. A couple hours ago, I made the finals of a tournament where first prize was an Ancestral Recall. I wound up getting the Recall. It was a Grand Prix Trial, for a GP I don't plan on going to, and second place was 24 packs. My opponent wanted the byes, and since you are not allowed to split with anything other than the prizes in the prize pool, the $400 card was going to be hard to split up. Fortunately I knew the guy somewhat and was sure he would not screw me, so I conceded to him and we worked out a split after the tournament was over. We each got 12 packs and half the recall, which the store valued at $250 (it's pretty beat), so I owed him 125 cash and I got the card. I wound up selling the store my 12 packs @ $2.50 each and 12 new fetches(8 marsh flats and 4 arid mesa) for 8 apiece.

Also, Vroman won a mox ruby last week at the monthly Lindenhurst power tourney, he valued it at $260, and I traded it off him for 1 verdant catacombs(12) 3 oath of druids(12 each) 2 underground sea(45 each) 1 tundra(30) and 80 cash.

Also, one month before that, I won the Lindenhurst monthly power tourney and got a mox pearl. I have been playing magic since eighth grade, that's 14 years, and it was my first piece of the power nine. Less than two months later and I now have three.
koala, bling, mox, koaladoll, eucad

Cheater Post: I didn't write this

My friend Vroman wrote this:

How To Not Fail

This is not a guide for success, that you have to figure out on your own. This is a guide on how to avoid abject failure. I have worked for a real estate company for 7 years, and hired and fired a fair number of people. In the course of this task I have encountered many ppl who have completely fucked up their lives. I like to describe my employment policy as extremely laisez faire. I dont care if you have a criminal record, or look like hell, or smoke pot on your lunch break. If you show up and do what I tell you, then you get paid and have an open invitation to come back tomorrow and do it again. If you do not show up or don't do what I tell you, then you have worn out your welcome. Even given this generous dont ask dont tell policy, many prospective and former employees do not make the cut. This is how to not be them.

Step 1. Self discipline
I am not a moralist. Im not trying to exhort you to 'do the right thing'. However, if you can't make yourself get out of bed when you're hungover or depressed, you are going to get fired and things are only going to get worse. Learning to deny instant gratification is painful, but succumbing to it on a constant basis is the fastest way to completely fail.

Step 2. Do not drink or do hard drugs
Almost everyone Ive had to fire has been a result of ludicrously poor decision making while under the influence, or simple absenteeism from substance abuse aftermath. The lowest rung employees who are in their 50s still earning $8/hr, are trapped there because they drink or smoke crack, etc. There are a lot of vices out there like gambling, tobacco, marijuana, watching TV hours/day, etc that are bad for your health, bad for your long term future, but at least do not radically alter your thinking process to the point that you kill/maim/impoverish/imprison yourself or massively fuck up and lose your job. I am not a moralist. I dont care what you do, all I am doing here is reporting the results of what Ive seen from a long parade of human wreckage. Alcohol is a serious drug, you are best off not drinking at all. Smoke cigarettes all you want, nicotine will not make you crash your car or punch cops.

Step 3. Own a car
Not having access to your own transportation makes you a second class citizen. dont bitch about the lack of public transit. get a car. get to work. do not buy any pointless luxuries like playstations and ipods if you dont already have a reliable vehicle. employees who lose their car and do not quickly replace it, are themselves quickly replaced. as a corolary, don't lose your license. see step 2. its not good enough to car pool or repeatedly borrow or have a shit-mobile. you need to personally own a fully operational vehicle.

Step 4. Save your money
so your car breaks down unexpectedly and you miss a day of work. that sucks, but everybody has disasters now and then. but you need to get it fixed asap. which means you need to have some money on hand to deal w these kind of mishaps. the difference between ppl who fail and ppl who make progress are the ones who are able to prepare for the unexpected. that means keeping a decent amount of emergency cash. if you've got a grand in the bank, that does not mean go have a bad ass weekend. that means you patiently let that money sit there. see step 1 and see step 2. never ask your boss for an advance.

Step 5. dont go to prison
once youve done time, your earning potential gets chopped off at the knees. I have no problem hiring excons, but they tend to keep ruining their future chances on their own. Im not going to ignore the fact that there is money to be made selling drugs, but if you choose that path, then you should go all out and just do that until you get killed. see step 2.


Step 6. Don't be fat
I am not saying you have to be the paragon of personal hygeine. Sure it would be nice if you showered every day, but pragmatically, a guy who is in relatively good shape who smells like he slept on top of a corpse, can still do the same amount of work as he could if he just came from a spa. but if you are obese, you are physically less eficient in general, even for office work. I dont care what kind of labor laws are on the books, the reality is there is less demand for fat ppl, so they end up making less. so if you are fat currently, my advice is "don't eat". 50% of the world gets by on a handful of rice a day. the amount of food it takes to power the human body for 24 hours is surprisingly small. find that minimum and consume only that until you are within 10% of avg. see step 1. Again Im not a moralist. Im not trying to tell you what you "should do". Im just telling you if you go down this path, you are asking for failure.

Step 7. own a cell phone
pay the bill. answer when your boss calls. not being accesible, especially when you have a field job is a pain for bosses, and they will find someone more convenient to manage.

step 8. speak your boss's language
while this obviously applies to spanish speaking ppl, its for ebonics also. I have nothing against ebonics, Im sure its perfectly effective for communicating amongst your culture, but I do not understand it, and Im not inclined to learn. if I have to pick between a guy who answers my questions immediately, and a guy who I have to ask to repeat himself 5 times, its not a hard choice who is going to keep their job. you can sort of get away w this if you are really good at your job and very few questions need to be asked, but in that case you should just learn standard-english anyway and move up in the world fast.

step 9. dont have kids
kids suck up most your income, and make you miss work when things go wrong and your co-parent if any, is unable to cover. if you are pregnant, get an abortion. see step 4. if you have impregnated someone, skip town. kids are the most expensive luxury you will ever have. Id recomend absitenence as much as possible. see step 1. also see step 2, as it can lead to violation of step 9.

step 10. learn some specific skill
if I ask somebody what they can do and they say "anything", that means "nothing". it means "general labor", which means $8/hr until you die. join a union, or go to school, or aprentice or whatever it takes to become good at something in a demonstratable way. if you learn to be a plumber or book keeper or hanging drywall, you can still always swing a sledge hammer when times are tough. dont aim for sledge hammer work, make that your back up.

notice at no point did I mention having a house. maintaining income, and limiting spending, is the most important thing. if in your current situation, this means sleeping in your car, so be it. if you have to choose between paying rent, or putting gas in your car, then get evicted and make sure you show up for work.
koala, bling, mox, koaladoll, eucad

A new religion?

I have just changed my facebook info page's Religious Views to "Prisoner's Dilemmist."

This is a reference to the classic problem, the Prisoner's Dilemma (I shrink at the thought that I am insulting my reader's intelligence here).

I have decided that my morality from now until I change my mind(I don't expect to do so) will be based on adherence to the cooperative portion of the prisoner's dilemma. It's sorta like a game theorist's answer to the golden rule. Let me explain.

Let's face it: The payoff from stealing things is high, and the chance of getting caught is low. As an economics student I can't ignore the expected value of occasional thievery as positive for the thief.

However, if I steal from anyone, I am made marginally better off, but they are likely made proportionately worse off. Moreover, if everyone steals from everyone, we will all spend all our time worrying about protecting our things and not have time to live our lives. This is unacceptable.

If I decide not to steal from anyone, they may still steal from me, but there is also the possibility of punishment for them, and more importantly, I wish to demonstrate my intention to enter into a stable equilibrium of "no one steals" and I can broadcast this by sticking to my principles in spite of being a victim of theft.

Let me say that I was not a thief before I wrote this, this is merely a way for me to logically justify continuing my (arguably economically irrational) behavior.

Let me also say that I refuse to appeal to a higher authority who refuses to show up for court (or indeed, at all) to justify moral behavior. I'm still an atheist. This system allows for atheist morality.