abraham lincoln abraham maslow academic papers africa aging aid alexander the great amazon america android os apple architecture aristotle art art institute chicago astronomy astrophysics aubrey de grey beck beer berlin bernacke bicycle BIG bill murray biophilia birds blogs bob dylan books bourdain brewing brian wansink buckminster fuller bukowski cameras cancer carl jung carl sagan cemetary change charter city chicago china christmas church civil war climate change cologne construction coop himmelblau copenhagen cornell west cps craigslist crime crown hall cyanotype cyrus dalai lama darkroom data dbHMS death design build dessau detail Diet dogs dome dongtan douglas macarthur drake equaation dresden dubai ebay eco economics economy education einstein emerson emily dickinson energy experiments facebook farming finance finland florida food france frank lloyd wright frei otto freud frum funny furniture games gay rights gdp george w bush george washington germany ghandi glenn murcutt goals good google government graphic design guns h.g. wells h.l. mencken hagakure halloween health health care henri cartier bresson herzog and demeuron honey housing human trafficking humanitarian efforts hydroponics ideas iit indexed india industrial design industrial work internet investments japan jaqueline kennedy jim cramer john maynard keynes john ronan john stewart journalism kickstarter kings of leon kittens krugman kurt vonnegut kurzweil lao tzu law le corbusier ledoux leon battista alberti links LSH madoff malcolm gladwell marijuana marriage masdar city math mead medicine microsoft mies van der rohe military milton friedman mlk money movies munich murphy/jahn music nasa nervi neutra new york nickel nietzsche nobel prize norman foster nsa obama occupy open source paintball palladium print paris parking party passive house paul mccartney persia philip roth philosophy photography picturequote pirate bay pirating plants poetry poker politics portfolio potsdam predictions prejudice presidents process photos prostitution psychology public housing q and a quotes rammed earth randy pausch reading reddit regan religion rendering renewables renzo piano restaurants revolution richard meier richard rogers robert frank rome rubik's cube rule of 72 rumi san francisco sartre sauerbruch hutton saule sidrys schinkel school science screen printing seattle sesame street seth roberts sketch social media soviet sparta spider spinoza sports stanley kubrick stanley milgram statistics steinbeck sudhir venkatesh suicide sustainable design switzerland taxes technology ted teddy roosevelt tension terracotta tesla thanatopsis the onion thomas jefferson thoreau time lapse tommy douglas transportation travel truman tumblr unemployment urban design van gogh venezuela vicuna video video games wall street war werner sobek wood woodshop woodworking ww1 ww2

30 October 2008

Why I Hate Politics

Or more specifically, why I hate talking about it with people. If they agree with your views then generally you just nod your head a lot and reinforce one anothers' views. If you talk to Hass, you probably learn something. If on the other hand you talk to my dad you get acquainted with a brick wall.

It was the end of the workday and as I was leaving my father and brother were talking about taxes and the election. Naturally my dad fears his taxes being increased by a democrat. Even though Obama's plan for taxes is essentially a more graduated income tax system. Which isn't an insane idea when the gap between the rich and the poor has been growing. Those making about $250,000 will pay more, and if the free market hasn't graced you quite as much you will pay less. Pretty simple, yet McCain has spun this into a tax increase that strikes fear into the hearts of the very people Obama is trying to help.

One such person is my dad. I assume there is a double digit percentage of americans who share the same feelings as he does. Once I explained the differing positions on taxes of both candidates he responded with, "Which tax plan is this one? If a democrat is in office I can't see how my taxes won't go up." Why are the republicans so good at politics? They fool the very people they then screw over, and they do it under the guise of free market/laissez faire views which infuriates me.

Pretty simple stuff. Under McCain everyone pays less. Under Obama over 95% of people pay less. The number of people who make over $250,000 per year is less than 5%. In fact, the bottom half of income earners pay about 3% of the federal income tax, so why not give them a break? It won't cost the government much and they'll spend the money which has all sorts of multiplier effects. So why, under McCain's plan, do the rich get a bigger break? The top 1% pays 40% of the federal income tax. A large burden certainly, but aren't they profiting off the backs of those beneath them and within our great economic system?

The numbers on the vertical (y) axis show how many more times a certain income group earns per year as opposed to another income group. In 2005 if you were in the top 95% of US income earners you earned 3.6 times as much as someone in the 50% range. Someone at the 50% range earns about 2.4 times as much as someone at the 20% range. This later finding has remained stable for at least he last 40 years while the former has been growing and continues to grow even now.

Income inequality is pretty bad for a society. I'm not really a big fan of income redistribution; as a graduated income tax system is, but I can't think of a more fair mechanism. In the above linked freakonomics article William Bernstein offers that "Wealth does trickle down to the rest of the population, but often not fast enough to avoid political strife and worse." And the classic Alfred Maynard Keynes quote explains why sometimes the government must step in, "Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."

29 October 2008

G1 Part 2

Short follow up on the G1. I've had it for about a week now.

The battery still blows. By the time I get home from work it's usually around 20%. That last 20% is hard to kill though... I think it's like the gas tank in a car. Says its E but really you're got another 60 miles. In all fairness it does have a 3" touchscreen, G3 running, in my case 4 browser windows, etc. Plus I'm on the thing constantly (really). When being used as a regular phone it's got a much more normal battery life.

Now the good. Love the OS. It's very easy to get used to and navigate. Any web page is within reach with this thing, it's not like a blackberry. You can really interact with web pages. If you pause and hold your finger on the screen for a second you can copy and paste text. The app store is oddly free and the apps in there are awesome. I find myself using the Shazam app a lot. It listens to whatever music you're listening to and tells you what it is and who it's by. The bar code scanner and price finder, Compare Everywhere, is crazy too. It's more of a toy currently... I'll let you know if it saves me money. WikiMobile is an app I use constantly. Any question, all the time. It's basically a scaled down version of Wikipedia that sits on my desktop (the G1 has a desktop similar to Windows or Mac computers). The touchscreen is incredibly responsive. To check my notifications I just move my thumb down vertically over the desktop and they appear. If my thumb slows then so does the rate at which they appear... crazy stuff.

The internet on the G1 is still fast.


This robo-mule is yet another cool invention by DARPA. I wonder how much this costs? Watch the video.

I read probably three new solar/wind/wave energy system updates every day. This new vortex powered machine is one of the coolest in a while.

Kind of cool calorie measuring/pedometer device. Probably a bad idea for anorexic and workout crazy people.

28 October 2008


"Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Smart man that Nietzsche. I was watching V for Vendetta the other day and near the end Natalie Portman says to V "You don't have to do this! We can leave here together..." which reminded me of a similar line of hers from Star Wars III aimed at Anakin, "We can still leave this place. We can go somewhere and live the rest of our lives together..." And then the guy walks away (idiot, from Ms. Portman non the less)... Does this ever happen? I know, I know it's like the beginning and ending question to every episode of Sex and the City, but seriously. Are we not raised on a steady diet of "you can have a mature trusting reciprocal relationship one day?" I call bull shit.

I made this photograph at my cousin's wedding in Charleston, SC. However rare, I'm sure they'll be more than fine.

27 October 2008


This first one is a but long, but it's a great look into open-source hardware. I had no idea such a thing existed. It seems that any product or forum that utilizes user generated content comes up with incredibly original ideas at a break neck pace.

For those of you who have been living under a rock this is Blackwater. I was unaware that there was as much controversy about them. There are all sorts of links on that video's page that are worth watching. I started researching them a bit after I had a privatization debate with a friend. Although I tend to lean towards the side of privatization on many issues the military is certainly not one of them. Here's how much Bush knows about them. Scary...

Cops are racist... who knew?

Take it Thoreau. I read the other day that while living at Walden pond, which was near town and his family home, he would often go home on weekends to raid the cookie jar. So much for seclusion.

26 October 2008


"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not with a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings." - Albert Einstein

I really like Nietzsche, but even after reading a biography and two of his books I still don't feel comfortable saying that I know much about his work. So I ordered 5 or 6 more of his books. We'll see if that helps. Nietzsche was a great admirer of Spinoza and his writings. Which is rare, Nietzsche basically hates on everyone. Anyways, at least read Spinoza's wiki. He had some really original and interesting ideas.

This is a photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson that is currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.

24 October 2008

I <3 the Free Market Part 2

The first part of this article can be found here. The truth of the matter, which I will repeat throughout this blog, is that I am not a good writer. Anyways, my first post comes off as some sort of odd fiscally conservative diatribe.

I'd like to reexplain my "vote" concept. This is not something I was taught. It's just an image I use to help me understand the signals by which manufacturers know how much to produce. By vote of course I do not mean anything political. I mean it as a mechanism that alerts producers of goods and services. In communism this would be accomplished by making a government post and telling that person to efficiently allocate said good. People make mistakes, don't do their job, need to get paid, etc. In the free market this is accomplished with the exchange of money. Consumers have a finite amount of money, so you can safely assume that they'd like to spend it wisely. In this way goods get made that people want (sometimes stupid ones; read: spinners, grills, bling, etc.). Another beautiful part of this mechanism is that it produces the most goods at the cheapest price based on this need. This is an inherent function of perfect competition (which rarely if ever really exists).

Okay, now the bad stuff. The free market is currently the most efficient way to allocate resources, but it says nothing about the distribution of income. Basically fairness. In the 19th century the spoils mostly went to the factory owners. This was also, one could argue, probably the closest our markets ever were to "free", so basically right now I'm arguing for the rich white men. Markets today are taxed more heavily and broadly, and there is much more oversight by government and private organizations such as the EPA, OSHA, etc. There are a few mechanisms by which economists can affect distribution of income. However, these questions probably shouldn't be left to economists. The job of an economist is the efficient allocation of resources. Fairness is the job of political scientists, sociology, psychology, or maybe even philosophy. If these academics find some way that they think could be more fair then let them give that idea to economists so that they can work out the details. This brings me to an interesting aside.

Economists have all these little scenarios that are essentially psychological experiments that involve just a few people. They are played a lot in intro economics classes. The name of this game is the ultimatum game, and it contradicts one of Adam Smith's great assumptions. That people are rational. The ultimate game is played like this. Two people are involved. You give one of them some amount of money, say $10. The job of person #1 is to divide the money. The job of person #2 is to either accept the deal in which case they both walk away with whatever split person #1 came up with, or person #2 can reject the offer and they walk away with nothing. Rationally person #2 should accept any split as rejecting it guarantees that they receive nothing. However, this almost never happens. In real life person #2 almost always rejects any offer that isn't close to 50/50. Psychologists think this means that people have some sort of fairness mechanism inherent to us. Studies have shown that revolutions and social upheaval tend to occur when there is a large disproportion in the distribution of income. This is currently measured by the Gini coefficient. The US ranks pretty poorly... #40 something in the world, and our score keeps going up (that means less equality).

The next problem with the free market is one that I personally don't have a problem with (which of course is easier to say when you're an affluent white male), but many do and for good reason. The free market uses competition as its driving force. Without it we would all be winners and we would live in some magical world where people inherently knew how to best invest their money and time without any errors. In reality, competition produces winners and losers. Thus, for the free market to work there must be losers. This is a bit saddening. How could one promote a system where this is the known outcome? Easy, rationalize it!

Say you start a business and after 5 years you are still losing money. At this point you are essentially subsidizing your customers. Economic reality will point you in the right direction. If you continue to lose money you will be forced to close your doors. Either you had the wrong idea or you poorly executed a viable idea. Of course this is unfortunate, but the business wasn't viable. A good example of this is what happened in the USSR after it collapsed. There was a long period when all these government factories and apartment blocks were converted to a capitalist system, but there was a large problem. They weren't viable. There were apartment blocks in the countryside no where near any places of work. Who could afford that? There were steel mills that were too far from quarries to make a profit and compete on an international level. The infrastructure existed, but it was in all the wrong places. The point of the story is that sometimes things need to fail in order for the whole to be better. In all fairness this can also be a bad way of thinking. This is how many economists thought during the Great Depression. Essentially, let the weak fail, but they were wrong. The problems facing businesses during this period were far beyond that.

Of course this is still a downside to the free market. It's inefficient, although better than its alternatives. It hurts people. It pits people in competition. I could go on for a while. Karl Marx actually does a really good job in critiquing capitalism. I think this point is often missed and people focus instead on his communist theories. Which is really quite ironic as he said very little about how communism would actually work.

The free market, at least in my mind, mimics natural selection. It is a bizare and effective mechanism that doesn't need human intervention to work. However, I am not entirely against government intervention in the free market. We just have to be careful not to stifle incentive. In reality the free market has its flaws and through the study of these flaws we can learn how to better deal with economic crisis in the future.

23 October 2008

How to Carve a Pumpkin

NOTE: This post is down unit I edit these photos... I've been meaning to do this since the day after I drunkenly posted these photos blissfully uncaring that it looked like "gay porn" as it was described by one of my friends.

First, put on some good music.

Second, cut a hole in the top and empty that sucker (beer on hand).

Then prepare what you intend to carve. I use a pencil.

Get someone to judge your drawing. If they don't like it tell them to shove off.

Drink more beer.

Then of course you actually have to carve it. For this I use those cheap saw blade dealies. Sharp knives tend to just get suctioned into the skin of the pumpkin. Plus they're hard to turn.

This is my two face pumpkin. Put in candle and enjoy!


'Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving." - Albert Einstein

I may be posting here a bit less for the next two weeks or so. I've decided to enter an architectural design contest. The challenge is to design a town/city for impoverished villages abroad using monolithic dome type architecture. I'll post scans of my drawings as they progress.

This is the first (and so far only) photo that I've uploaded to Wikipedia. It's a print I bought at the Printer's Row Book Fair. They actually make the process of uploading a photo somewhat cumbersome. I've also edited a few paintball related articles that desperately need a lot more work. The idea of Wikipedia is amazing. It's like a repository for all human knowledge that's free to everyone.

21 October 2008

Smart Guy Says Americans are Nuts, I Agree

I actually just read this really interesting article and video after my solutions to the world's problems post. I used to get mad that other people had similar ideas, but I remember Steven Levitt commenting repeatedly in the book Freakonomics (which I highly recommend) that great minds think alike. Or maybe that just makes me a pretentious prick.

Stuff I Read and Didn't Find Boring

I read this a while ago and I've talked about it on numerous occasions. A psychologist named Seth Roberts used himself as a guinea pig, and it seems to have worked out.

Cool creepy food experiment. "80 percent of our decisions are made subconsciously."

This one's from Sandy. Places to lock up your bike in New York.


"Shadows in the flame. - The flame is not itself as bright as those that it illuminates: so, too, the wise man." - Friedrich Nietzsche from Human, All to Human I

I guess that made us the illuminated. This is a photo (poorly edited, sorry) of my former paintball team, Chicago Farside, before we went pro. From left to right: me, Ben, Kyle, and Jason. Paintball, like Randy Pausch's head fake theory, taught me more than any single person or school ever could.

Google G1 Phone - Thumbs Up

I've never had a full keyboard phone before, so sorry in advance for my over enthusiasm.

The G1 with Google's Android OS has thus far been a nice surprise. The real story is Google's OS. I just wanted a phone that had an actual keyboard so I wouldn't have to waste so much of my life texting like it's 1999. But how could I resist a further invasion of my life by Google?

Everything on the G1 is very intuitive. For example, if you want to use the camera you turn the phone on its side and the camera shutter button is right where it would be on any camera (right trigger finger). It's also not too big, has GPS, Google Maps is easier to use on this thing than on a normal computer, the combo of the touchscreen; keyboard; and clickable rollerball make browsing the web and navigating the phones functions ridiculously easy, the Gmail setup took me under 30 seconds, it comes with a 1 gig micro sd card, and it has legitimately fast internet. The internet on it is comparable to my sprint broadband card.

So far the only downsides I've noticed is a lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack (all the new ones come with an adapter) and the battery life... granted I've been playing with it all day and I'm not sure what kind of charge I gave it.

Cost was $180 plus a two year extension (I hadn't planned on ditching my cell phone just yet anyways) plus $25 a month for internet and 400 texts... alas I will have to upgrade to the $35 a month for unlimited texts.

This definitely gets my "this may improve the quality of your life" seal of approval.

Here's a size comparison to a typical mass market cell phone.

20 October 2008


Shut Your Eyes by Snow Patrol.

"Age and truth.— Young people love what is strange and interesting, regardless of whether it is true or false. More mature spirits love in truth that which is strange and interesting in it. Heads fully mature, finally, love truth also where it appears plain and simple and is boring to ordinary people: they have noticed that truth is accustomed to impart its highest spiritual possessions with an air of simplicity." - Friedrich Nietzsche from Human, All Too Human I

This is a pen and ink drawing I finished today.

Messed with in photoshop

18 October 2008


"Opinion often consists of a kind of criticism. But criticism can come out of love." - Robert Frank

It's reassuring to know that my chronic condescension (or so all my friends say) comes out of love.

I found that quote at the Art Institute today by all the photography in the basement. This last photo is from the American section of the museum. It's probably my favorite spot to just sit and relax in Chicago. It's quiet but in that museum kind of way, plus its naturally lit and you're surrounded by comfy cast iron benches and some of the best statues in the world.

A Date with Myself

This has been the first week I can remember since I was a freshman in college that I haven't had or wanted a girlfriend. It is a bit depressing sometimes though, so I thought I'd go out on a date with myself... It's something I came up with a while ago. The deal is you pick something that usually only couples do. For example go to a movie then go out to dinner by yourself. Think of how hilarious that is. Now I know, that seems impossible, but it isn't. You just pick a time, dress up more than normal, and go do something fun. And of course take lots of photos to commemorate the occasion. Today's date took me to The Art Institute of Chicago.

So I grabbed some coffee (I rarely drink this brew so it has more of an effect on me than my other vices) and headed north on Michigan Ave. The museum has changed a lot since last time I was there. Maybe 3 months ago? Their photography exhibit changes a lot, and this time it was really really good. It's the best I've seen in a long time. There's also some new Italian sketches (my favorite) right by the statues of the Bodhisattvas.

I guess I didn't dress up.

Alexander Gardner.

Gilles Peress.

Front of the A.I. looking north.

The walk down Michigan Ave. is quite pretty.


Carbon nanotubes will one day be a catalyst for all sorts of new technologies. They're quite hard to manufacture currently, but they hold the promise of making everything around us stronger and lighter by a factor of hundreds. Here's the latest.

Coolest journalist ever. Here's the longer story.

16 October 2008

Daily Photo and Music/Quote

Not the best recording, but this is Milk by The Kings of Leon. Whom I get to see at the Aragon on Halloween. I even have an extra ticket. Too bad I didn't buy more. They're being scalped for a lot.

I came across a great page in my all time favorite book series, The Bathroom Reader. The whole page is from famous psychologists. This one is their Collosal Collection of "Quotable" Quotes.

"When all you have is a hammer, all your problems start to look like nails." - Abraham Maslow

Maslow was a psychologist famous for his theory of the hierarchy of human needs. Interesting stuff.

And finally... Evan as a younger man. He was a hilarious little kid. The Energizer Bunny didn't have shit on him.

First Project Completed

I starting developing prints today... albeit not very good ones, but it's a start. It's really fun and quite difficult since I have no one but the internet to teach me. This could take years to get really good at.

The first one is my enlarger (an omega condenser lamphouse type d). It essentially projects an image onto photo sensitive paper which is then developed using a developer, stop bath, fixing agent, wash solution, and then dried.

The second one is my first print... compared to the film scan which is first. I have some learning to do!

15 October 2008

Are Fuel Efficient Cars Really the Answer?

A paradox exists in the drive to make cars more fuel efficient. Making cars cheaper to purchase and operate should allow for more people to drive and could lead to an increase in congestion and pollution. In full disclosure, I have no real empirical evidence. Not that I am against making cars smaller, safer, and more fuel efficient. This is just a theory that I think would be interesting to study if I was say... a tenured economist at a university.

There is already one and about to be two cars in the U.S. that cost less than $15,000 and get 40-50 MPG or better. The Smart Fortwo is already here and costs about $12-13K. I've also already mentioned Toyota's iQ that is coming to the U.S. soon under the Scion name.

As cars become cheaper and more fuel efficient it allows more people to drive. The average cost of a car was $28,400 in 2006. The average fuel mileage for a passenger car in 2008 was 27.5 MPG. If these cars cost almost half as much as a conventional mid-size car and get about double the gas mileage it would seem plausible that nearly twice as many people will drive who did not before. Of course this is not necessarily the case. I doubt the relationship between the cost of owning a car and the likelihood of someone owning a car is perfectly linear. At the same time I think it is plausible to say that the relationship could be .5 (pure speculation). Meaning that cutting the cost of owning and purchasing a car in half would lead to a 50% increase in the number of cars on the road.

If this sounds counterintuitive consider that adding more lanes to a road actually increases congestion in the long run by decreasing congestion initially and encouraging more people to drive. Could the same be true of carbon emmisions caused by cheaper more fuel efficient cars?

14 October 2008

Your Moment of Zen

I used to be much cooler than I am now. I rode my bike from Belmont to Loyola everyday down Kenmore Ave. on a taped up fixed gear bicycle that I converted. Some times I'd take pictures on my 4 mile ride... this is one of them.

"He not busy being born is busy dying." - Bob Dylan

I <3 the Free Market Part 1

I'm a dork. I think the economic mechanism refereed to as the free market is one of the most beautiful concepts ever conceived. With all that's happening in finance right now I have been getting a lot of questions about the economy (I was an econ. major at Loyola Chicago... that makes me about eight giant leaps from being an expert). I've had some friends questioning capitalism in general, so I'll explain my love of the free market and why I still think it's the way to go.

My favorite economist is Milton Friedman. He was a brilliant professor at the University of Chicago for over 30 years. U of C, from what I understand, approaches economics very differently than many universities outside of Chicago. It is also highly regarded as one of, if not the, best place to study economics. They have an absurd amount of Nobel Laureates to boot. Anyways, here's a great Friedman quote:

"There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income."

The point is that people should choose how to spend their own money because they have the most vested interest and are most apt to spend it wisely, or at least to spend it on goods that they themselves want. When the government collects taxes there is an externality known as a deadweight loss. Essentially, when you give the government $1 they spend $.30 (the U.S. governments deadweight loss is estimated to be .3 last I checked) to collect that dollar. If you're allowed to spend it yourself there is no deadweight loss.

I've always thought of a dollar as a vote. By purchasing a good a consumer is essentially signaling to a producer that there is a need for this good. In turn the producer produces more. If they can not produce more of the good then the price will increase and the good will go to the buyer who needs it the most (the person who pays the most is seen as having the greatest need for the good). In this way goods get manufactured and bought at the most efficient price, and the best part is that no one directs this system.

More on this tomorrow...

Your Moment of Zen

Homage to the Daily Show.

Someone please prove me wrong that this isn't a black widow. This is the underbelly. Found it in a garage today.

13 October 2008

What I read Today

Links -

The Smart Car has competition. $15k or less, 56 MPG (diesel), and fits 4 people.

If you follow the financial holocaust or whatever this is a really good read on solutions.

Tech stances for the presidential candidates.

Wiki of the Day -

Sparta is one of the most fascinating societies ever to have existed. It might be the best fairy tale/war story, if such a thing exists, ever. And it's nonfiction.

Free Time

I recently stumpled upon some free time so I thought I'd start a blog. The format style will as random as humanly possible.

Projects -

Make photographic prints with a projector.

Have Justin teach me to silk screen.

Design an artists/metal/wood workshop for NC.

Hang art around house.

Maybe one a week?