Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Category

It helps to be a Nobel laureate when you spout out economic nonsense. But, if you’re not able to milk your 2008 Nobel prize, here are the top ways to become a successful bitcoin doomsdayer:

  • It helps if you have some sort of “authority” on the subject: Nobel prize in economics, MBA, degree in finance, Instagram pictures of you on a boat, etc.
  • Start by claiming bitcoin is a bubble and even claim that you’ve been saying that for years.
  • Claim that you’ve been “right” about bitcion and cryptocurrency for years. You don’t need to have any proof of such claims, just make the claims.
  • Make nebulous claims like “this won’t end well” and “this bubble is about to burst”
  • Use words like parabolic
  • Make as many unsubstantiated claims of bitcion’s “true value” as you can. Just make up a number: $1,000… $3,000… Doesn’t matter if you understand the technology or not. Just make something up that sounds scary to people.
  • Be as vague as possible as to when the bitcoin bubble will burst. Remember, being an internet oracle doesn’t require specifics or even a month. Oracles are made by claims of “soon” and “imminent”.
  • Be as vague as possible as to what value the bitcoin crash will dip to. In fact, don’t even say what the crash will be. This way, when there’s a correction of 40% you can still claim oracle status! Definitely don’t make a 100% accurate prediction to the exact thousand dollar amount that BTC will drop to.
  • Use the word bubble at least 3-4 times every hour; even in conversations unrelated to bitcion
  • Make reference to the mythical tulip bubble
  • Bask in the glory of being right 4-5x per year about the bitcoin bubble when there’s a major correction in the budding cryptocurrency market every few months!
  • Bitcoin shame as much as possible on social media!

P.S. In Krugman’s defense, he does make a valid point that he doesn’t understand technology. He also makes a reasonable point that bitcoin lacks viability as a transactional currency. That is valid given BTC’s current limitations for handling massive tx volume and BTC’s high tx cost. BTC will either need to change or (more likely) be used as a store of large amounts of wealth and for large transactions (e.g. buying a house).

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Four years ago, I wrote about how the national parks can avoid the next government shutdown. It was a bit shortsighted in retrospect. Rather than utilizing bonds, national parks (any any organization for that matter) should leverage cryptocurrencies. There are over 1,000 cryptocurrencies in existence today (most should be avoided).  But a park like Yosemite Nation Park fits the mold of being a perfect fit for a cryptocurrency.

A Yosemitecoin has a specific use for a specific purpose. Want to visit and park at Yosemite? Pay in Yosemitecoin. Want to stay at a lodge in Yosemite? Pay in Yosemitecoin. It’s important to the ecological health of Yosemite to limit the number of visitors per season/year, so having a cryptocurrency that is limited in availability during a season would allow the price/cost of Yosemitecoin to limit the exposure of the park.

Mining of Yosemitecoin could prove to be a profitable venture for miners depending upon how the rules are setup for Yosemitecoin mining and exchanging. Exchanging could help boost the overall budget available for Yosemite National Park and allow for the park to afford more resources to ensure the park is well maintained and employees at the park are well compensated. A Yosemitecoin could even serve as a long-term retirement investment vehicle for park employees.

Getting into details for all of this would require much more than a simple blog post. However, every national park, non-profits, and global organizations (such as the red cross) could greatly benefit from having their own cryptocurrency that furthers their cause.

I’ve heard a few definitions of rape culture over the years, but typing in “define rape culture” into Google netted one of the most concise definitions I have seen to date: a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse.

rape_culture_google_definition

There are the obvious examples of sexual assault being uncovered on the news on a daily basis: Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, Roy Moore, etc. These aren’t the best examples of the systemic nature of rape culture in America though. These are example of rape culture but aren’t being trivialized or normalized (at least not anymore). The following is a deep dive into identifying the pervasive, systemic reach of rape culture in America. Prepare…

The champions of rape culture in America for more than two decades are Bill and Hillary Clinton.

hillary-bill-clinton

Clinton supporters will likely suggest that this is a hit piece on the Clintons. It’s not. This is a hit piece on the pervasiveness of rape culture in America.

When Senator Gillibrand made the strong (and appropriate statement) that Bill Clinton should have resigned as POTUS during the investigation of his sexual harassment and perjury, there were Clinton loyalists who quickly jumped all over it with rape culturisms like Philippe Reines:

Ken Starr spent $70 million on a consensual blowjob. Senate voted to keep POTUS WJC. But not enough for you @SenGillibrand? Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite.

Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck.

On the surface, this might look like a Clinton supporter/former employee venting about a Senator who gladly took Bill Clinton’s endorsements over the years and was now throwing him under the bus. This is what rape culture looks like, folks!

You might be thinking this is a pretty harsh statement given that Bill Clinton didn’t “rape” Monica Lewinsky. If so, that’s a good thing. I think you should be shocked to uncover just how systemic and prevalent rape culture is in America.

Reines makes the assertion that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky participated in consensual blowjobs in the Oval Office. His argument might even have legal merit since sexual harassment (which is what a superior having sex with a subordinate is) isn’t “illegal”. By Reines’ rape culture logic, slavery (let alone raping slaves) during America’s early years was okay because it wasn’t “illegal”. Did I just compare rape culture to slavery? You bet!

So, how is getting a “consensual” bj in the Oval Office sexual harassment, let alone rape culture? By answering this question, we’re going to uncover the nasty pervasiveness of rape culture in America. It boils down to the very culture that it’s acceptable to someone with authority to take advantage of a subordinate. Someone with authority over another person has a level of power over that person by the very nature of their position. The President of the United States certainly qualifies as being in a position of authority over an intern in the White House. Claiming that Monica Lewinsky “knew what she was getting into” (or simplifying that to “consented” like Reines has done) exemplifies rape culture. Reines might as well have just said Monica was “asking for it”. Looking at this with a Weinstein lens: Monica was on the “casting couch”.

To make a long story short, justifying sexual abuse because it’s illegal = rape culture.

Furthering the rape culture nature of Bill Clinton’s exploitation of Monica Lewinsky is the fact that he’s married. The idea that a man, who has made a commitment of chastity to his wife, can up and get a bj from an employee is the epitome of the sense of male entitlement that is rampant with rape culture. Bill Clinton took advantage of Monica Lewinsky, and that is rape culture. Period.

Still, Bill Clinton’s exploits of Monica Lewinsky weren’t the most egregious of his rape culturisms. It’s pretty safe to say that the only thing separating Bill Clinton from being an alleged rapist and an convicted rapist is the statute of limitations and/or a phenomenal lawyer (meaning, a lawyer who leverages the inherit privileged that rape culture affords sexual predators (wealthy/powerful men) like Bill Clinton.

A further example of rape culture is claiming that Bill Clinton “more than paid the price” for taking advantage of Lewinsky. The notion that there’s a “price” to pay for sexually manipulating and abusing women is rape culture. The notion that Bill Clinton “more than paid” is monstrously rape culture. He paid the price because he couldn’t practice law (which he wouldn’t have done anyway) for five years? And I’ll get to the greatest falsehood about Bill Clinton “paying the price” in two paragraphs.

If you haven’t warmed up to me saying that Bill Clinton exploited and took advantage of Monica Lewinsky, that’s how pervasive rape culture is in your own mind. There in lies the sneakiness of rape culture. It’s like a shadow cast from a light that sits right in your own head. Rape culture is something you can’t fully see and understand until you look in the mirror and ask yourself how much you have unwittingly (or knowingly) participated in rape culture. How much have you justified Bill Clinton the sexual predator with him being an accomplished politician? How often have you said “that’s just politics”? Or “other politicians have done those things”?

That brings me to my last, and most poignant point. Hillary Clinton exemplifies rape culture in America. Victim blaming and shaming is the ultimate rape culture. Hillary Clinton has also said that her husband “paid the price“. No. Hillary Clinton, YOU paid the price for Bill Clinton’s sex abuse, not Bill. Hillary is both a victim of rape culture and has been perpetuating rape culture.

To wrap it up…

Rape culture = “a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse.” How much have we all participated in normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse? Now is the time to say, “no more”. Michael TomaskyPhilippe Reines, Al Franken, and Hillary Clinton are all rape culture stalwarts.

There’s been a whole lot of discussion about the looming Bitcoin bubble burst or how valuing Bitcoin isn’t possible because “it’s not a value-producing asset”. Bloomberg seems to have figured out that even if Bitcoin isn’t a bubble, it will still fail because of it’s “exorbitant energy costs“.

We can’t assume that current financial transactions take place over a magic network that doesn’t require any energy to run. It takes energy to print paper money and to run the massive servers that banks and financial institutions use all around the globe. It’s not just magic.

Sid Verma is on to something about Bitcoin’s energy requirements, but he came to the wrong conclusion. Bitcoin’s exorbitant energy cost is NOT going to be Bitcoin’s undoing. Rather, it’s precisely what gives Bitcoin it’s value. The massive amount of energy required to mine Bitcoin means that you can compute a value for Bitcoin (contrary to what the “Sage of Omaha” thinks). Bitcoin will require more and more energy and hardware to continue to mine, increasing it’s real-world/tangible value. Even if energy costs decrease, more energy is required to mine at a far greater pace than the reduction in the cost of energy. The value of Bitcoin has a real-world justification for increasing because we value energy to support our digital world.

If the energy required to mine Bitcion will eventually surpass that of the entirety of Japan, Citigroup is suggesting that governments will tax miners for their high energy consumption. That doesn’t take into consideration renewable energy (there’s a reason why so much mining is taking place in Iceland: geothermal energy) and autonomy of energy. Ironically, this decentralized currency is ideal for decentralized (and cleaner) energy production as well.

Anyone following the rise of electric car transportation has often heard gripes from anti-EV folks about a “dirty grid”, “subsidies”, or even how EVs allegedly produce more pollution during their manufacturing than what is produced for the entire life of an internal combustion engine. Wired magazine even go into the mix with their (bunk) article talking about how EVs aren’t as green as you think they are. I’m not going to link to any of these “articles” because they are, quite frankly, gibberish. They often make claims such as lithium being a rare earth material (it’s not) or that Tesla uses permanent magnets in their motors (they’re AC induction, so they don’t; and Tesla gets all of it’s cobalt in North America).

Instead, I’m going to link to articles that provide insight into an often overlooked topic of internal combustion engines (ICE): externality economic benefits afforded to ICE manufacturers. As is turns out, driving in rush hour traffic is potentially twice as hazardous to your health than currently believed. This externality benefit is afforded to car manufacturers who are making ICE. They incur relatively zero cost for developing a product that produces emissions that the manufacturer has zero responsibility for. This is a tremendous economic benefit afforded to ICE manufacturers. While they are responsible for containing the pollution produced during the manufacturing of their product, they have zero responsibility for the pollution created during the usage of their production AND there is no way to use their product without producing pollution (unless you put the car in a museum).

One might argue that the driver should be responsible for that pollution or that the driver is responsible for the pollution because of paying taxes on gas. Let’s not pretend that the taxes on gasoline are even used for their intended purpose of rebuilding roads let alone healthcare costs incurred from the pollution caused by refining and burning gasoline. Also, the manufacturers of ICE don’t provide (or even have) the ability to collect pollution, so we’re stuck with tailpipe emissions spread to someone else’s property and effecting their lives. These effects are very costly, and the burden (as detailed in the RAND report I’ve linked to) is on health insurance companies, or government, and individuals deprived of their health liberty due to no action of their own! Certainly, one’s own rush hour car pollution is enough to kill them dozens of times over, but I digress… Perhaps the health insurance companies could lobby to get their money back?

The solution is fairly simple. Place a health insurance tax on the manufacturer of ICE vehicles that cannot be passed along to the consumer unless that consumer is a government agency. This tax would be paid to companies and individuals paying for health insurance to help offset their increased medical costs due to the products developed and sold by ICE manufacturers. The tax would be based upon the pollution (we’re not just talking about CO2 but ALL air pollution) produced by a vehicle from driving it 10K miles per year with the average life being 10 years for the vehicle and adjusted annually for the increased pollution that an ICE produces as it ages (which is the opposite of what happens with EV since grids are becoming cleaner each year).

The results from this would be reduced out of pocket medical costs for individuals since they are no longer subsidizing ICE manufacturers, a likely bankrupt automobile industry as electric cars would suddenly become significantly less expensive than ICE, and we can finally get rid of those tax incentives for electric vehicles that anti-EV folks love to complain about! Joking aside, there are considerable health costs that ICE manufacturers are causing by continuing to manufacture products that have no method to avoid. Taxing the manufacturers for their externality benefit they receive at our expense is a potential way to provide those manufacturers with incentives to make better products that are less detrimental to our health and puts the financial burden on the industry directly responsible for substantial increase in healthcare costs over the last half century.

“Behind every great man is a great woman”

We hear that statement (or some variant: “Behind every successful man is a woman”) so often, particularly in politics. It’s so popular that with the rise of successful women in business and politics we hear the gender role reversal: Behind every great woman is a great man. Regardless of the gender roles, the statement has an underlying tone that the spouse of a great/successful person is hidden “behind” the successful person.

Maybe we see the significant other on the stage… Maybe the great wo/man is mentioned in an acceptance speech… Maybe in the memoirs…

The reality is that *Beside* every great wo/man is a great wo/man. It’s just a preposition, but this preposition swap accurately reflects the true spirit of this popular idiom. The spouse of a successful person stands besides them, not behind them. When they walked down the isle, they walked beside each other. No one individual was behind or in front of the other, and it’s the same in success and greatness.

When I achieve success in business or life, my wife is always beside me; not behind me. And I know that the same holds true for her. We’re on this adventure together. One of us certainly takes the lead depending on what obstacle is in front of us, but when we cross that finish line… When we achieve success, it’s beside one another.

Had I stayed away from the news websites, I wouldn’t have even noticed the federal government shutdown. Funny part about that is that I have a family member who works for the federal government, but she didn’t get furloughed since she works in a government agency that actually turns a profit with its services. Naturally, when an organization makes a profit it doesn’t have to furlough people when the rest of the federal government does.

I’m not going to debate whether one side is right or wrong or worse than the other in this blog. I’m just going to post a solution to the one problem that I saw most in the news and on social media: shutting down our national parks. I’m not going to debate if a 1000 square mile range of the ocean in Florida needs our federal government to stay open to fishermen or whether Mt. Rushmore needs federal employees to be open. This solution solves the debate. Here it is…

Have the National Park service issue multiple denomination certificates for the full amount of its annual budget that are a tax credit for those who purchase them and never have to be paid back. In essence, it’s a donation to our National Parks, but rather than just being a tax deduction like a charity, this is a tax credit because our federal government is using tax dollars to pay for the National Parks. It’s a $ for $ in tax money.

Obviously, the National Park service would incur some minor overhead for building and maintaining this system, so it can just add it to its budget. I’m betting that if you put it into an open bidding process you could easily find thousands of companies capable of building this platform.

This would help ensure that our National Parks remain open regardless of federal government wrangling. It would also serve as a model for other government entities for how they can become self sufficient and immune to federal government budgetary gridlock. There are numerous other benefits to this model such as helping to keep spending inline with revenue for the government as a whole and providing citizens with a greater say in how our tax dollars are spent. This idea isn’t just about avoiding shutdown furloughs that are back paid anyway. It’s a solution to an ongoing budget (or lack thereof) with our federal government.

Here are added incentives for our National Parks:

  1. Want that budget increase you could never get? Increase your budget and see if taxpayers are willing to pay for it
  2. If Congress acts now, there will be a flood of taxpayers willing to cover your entire fiscal calendar budget since there are just 2.5 months left in the tax year

Edit: Why not make a petition out of it? https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/taxpayer-direct-funding-national-parks/csP0c6Bh

The other day, I felt like I was going crazy. I was bursting into uncontrollable laughter. I had received a message on Facebook that I was tagged in a photo. It was one of those collage photos, so I figured I check it out sometime later. Those things can be pretty entertaining. I eventually got around to checking it and discovered I had been tagged as “the asshole” in the picture.

Now, the person who tagged me as “the asshole” is the real reason I was laughing my ass off. This is the same woman who I had been dating off and on for five-and-a-half years when she told me that my friend Rich committed suicide because I’m such a lousy friend and then left me because she was so hurt by me. Mind you, she did this 10 days after Rich killed himself.

To be sure, I’m no innocent person. I happen to be a human being, and I’ve made some very big mistakes in my life. I’ve hurt quite a few people along the way, and I have no problems with people considering me an asshole. I have certainly been an asshole to many people, and anyone who has dealt with me in business will tell you that I have a brutal streak of shrewdness.

Still, I’m not sure that someone who I helped build her career and her personal life should be calling me an asshole. Of course, I’m sure she has long forgotten about how so much she has in her life right now has come from the support that I have given her over the years.

Now, the whipped cream and cherry on top came today. Her best friend decided to tag me as “the asshole” as well  on what would have been Rich’s 33rd birthday.

I feel for them both. That somehow they feel comfort in labeling me as an asshole while I am wandering through the grieving process  of having lost a close friend of nearly 20 years is beyond me. Is it too much to ask them to at least wait a couple months?

Usually, my best thinking is done on the toilet. However, I realized something the other day while I was driving to a dance class. I’ve come to realize that often times (if not all the time), when I’m hurting emotionally, it is because someone else is/was hurting. Two recent poignant examples…

A good friend of almost 20 years committed suicide in early February. I’ve gone through a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows. I know that he was in a tremendous amount of pain. Losing someone close is one thing, but suicide is something else. The best way I can describe it for me is that is feels like I’m burning from the inside out. Rich was someone who used me as a personal reference when he joined the Air Force, applied to Cal Poly (which he graduated from), and applied for a job at Intel (which he got!). The influence we had on each other’s lives was profound. We rode motorcycles together, shared stories of skydiving together (although we never jumped together), shared everything about our love lives, went to clubs, talked about deep social and personal issues, encouraged each other, and inspired each other.

Perhaps the most difficult part of Rich’s suicide was knowing what a positive influence I had on his life. Had he just been a close friend who I talked to every day/week/month/whenever… But Rich was not just someone I was close with. Rich was someone I inspired, and he let me know I inspired him. He was also someone who inspired me, and I let him know. The pain of losing someone with so much mutual admiration is incredible.

A few days after Rich committed suicide something happened that I still can’t believe. My closest friend, someone that I spent countless hours with every week, someone I’ve go through hell and back for, someone I’ve stood for through insurmountable crap went on a tyraid and started slinging some of the most vicious insults I have ever heard in my entire life. I am still having difficulty wrapping my head around the words because I have never been attacked like that before.

Now, getting back to my theory… In the case of Rich, I know he was hurting tremendously inside. We had spoken about the burden he felt in his life many times over the years. In fact, his letter mentioned the amount of pain he felt. In the case of my other friend, I know there was a lot of pain there as well. What was said was coming from the pain that my friend was feeling. In both cases, my friends were hurting.

Pain is almost like something we pass along because we don’t know what to do with it. It’s like playing hot potato. You hold onto it with your bare hands, and you are going to get burned. So, instead, we toss the hot potato from one person to the next out of natural instinct. We don’t think, “Should I hold onto this potato?” No, we just toss it along. It’s a natural things.  Same thing with pain. We pass our pain to the next person because that’s the natural instinct.

Once I realized this, my own pain began to ruminate in the back of my mind. It was almost like another section of my grey matter was activated and started diligently working on this concept.

Then something else dawned on me: I don’t really know everything that is going on inside of me all of the time. We all have this, those moments when someone points out something to us about ourselves and we realize that we just weren’t aware of it. If you are thinking that there is nothing about yourself that you aren’t aware of then I rest my case 😉

So, if I don’t even know everything that is going on with me all the time, how could I possibly know everything that is going on with someone else?

Tying it all together, my brain came to the following conclusion:

Pain is transfered from one person to the next because we don’t realize that we are doing it in the moment and partly because we don’t really know how to deal with our own pain. Working through that pain looks different for everyone. Some write songs. Others paint paintings. Others turn into axe murders. Some start smoking, doing drugs, or drinking. Some take up some other form of addiction: gambling, adrenaline rushes, sex, etc. Some dance. Some write blogs. Some just shut off. The list goes on and on.

In most cases, if we knew in advance that what we were going to say or do was going to hurt someone, we wouldn’t do it. However, that still leaves us with the pain that we likely don’t know how to deal with. Some people will never deal with it and just keep passing it along, and it will always keep coming back to them amplified. Some people will never deal with it and internalize it to the point of no return.

Dealing with pain is a matter of understanding the root cause of the pain. Think of it like treating a fracture. You may feel the pain in the tendons or muscle, but you’ll never heal a fracture by giving yourself a massage. Same thing with emotional pain, but the origin is a bit tricky. The origin of the pain is not some deep seeded emotional baggage you have from childhood or some emotional scare from years gone by. The origin of the pain lies in the other person. While you may not be able to understand the other person, you can empathize with that person. After all, whatever pain you are feeling must be several times worse inside of them.

Of course, this all left me with one gigantic question: Aren’t I just making excuses for other people’s behavior? At first, I thought yes. Then I thought about it some more.This isn’t a justification of any choice or action that someone takes. This is an acknowledgement that someone has done/said something and there are consequences. The choice we make is whether we want to continue to pass along pain or not.

In short: Life Happens, deal with it.

I can’t believe that only 23% of the people polled in a CNN poll thought Vice President Dick(head) Cheney is the worst VP in the history of America. Either these people have a strong recollection of Aaron Burr and Spiro Agnew, or they haven’t paid much attention to distortion of our constitution by the worst Vice President in history. Certainly, Agnew was a swindler, but he has nothing on Cheney. Dick easily ranks up there with Burr.

I would be interested in knowing who these people really think is the worst VP ever.

My favorite quote from Dick:

“I’m very comfortable with where we are and what we achieved substantively. And frankly, I would not want to be one of those guys who spends all his time reading the polls. I think people like that shouldn’t serve in these jobs.”

Of course he feels very comfortable. After having pulled off the largest raping of the American public, I’m sure he feels as comfortable as OJ Simpson with a glove that doesn’t fit on his hand.