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 April 2009

Monday Reading

Dave Homcy. Beautiful surf photography.

Mike Rowe, of Dirty Jobs, at TED explaining how he is often wrong.

Coolest riddle ever
? An eccentric owner of an apartment building in Manhattan built clues and riddles into an apartment that is taking its newest owners years to solve.

Google's Android free open-source operating system is beginning to find it's way into a new generation of netbooks.

Band Aid-style calorie tracker. Quite possibly the greatest dieting invention ever or the worst thing to ever happen to anorexics.

(I guess I posted this a few days late.)

29 April 2009

A Natural Experiment for the Death Tax

In 2010 the death/estate tax is repealed for one year. In my mind this will create a natural experiment. The name is fairly self explanatory.

Anyways here's what the death tax rates are for various years for an individual estate:

2005, 1.5 million, 47%
2006, 2 million, 46%
2007, 2 million, 45%
2008, 2 million, 45%
2009, 3.5 million, 45%
2010, exempt
2011, 1 million, 55%

So for example if someone dies today (2009) with a net worth of 5 million their heirs will pay 45% of 1.5 million - $675,000.

There are many reasons for and against the death tax, not that it matters, but I tend to be in favor of it. The fact that currently you can inherit 3.5 million dollars tax free is pretty insane. Regardless of the political consequences of all this the fact remains that in 2010 there is no death tax.

There may be no effect at all but you have to imagine that at least a few 80 year olds in bad health will be dropping dead at their own hands in late 2010. Maybe? It's possible at least.

28 April 2009

Wall Street - Aloof

Disclaimer: This is really more of a rant than proper commentary.

Aloof: detached, having no need, desire, or much (if any) awareness of other people and social relationships.

This piece from the New Yorker is worth the somewhat longer than normal internet read. It's about the workers of Walls Street
and why they're pissed about the fact that the rest of America wants to see them get a pay cut.

"He [Obama] knows that you can’t live in New York on $75,000.”

Seriously? You need to realize that you're just a privileged human being who happens to work hard. Do you deserve double or maybe even triple salary because you work 80 hours a week? Maybe more because of the cost of living in NYC? Sure, but $742,000? Seriously, fuck you. Don't tell me that it's your birth right because you went to an Ivy League school and work all hours of the day. There are maybe a dozen living people who deserve the gross domestic product of an African nation as their take home salary. There are people who work just as industriously and take as much risk as you do who make $8 an hour. You are not special.

I understand the need to compensate people for what they contribute to society and our economic system, but no one deserves that much. Especially when you would be jobless if it weren't for the government, or perhaps more properly the tax payer. I even understand why they fight for their viewpoint so endearingly. I get that it brings with it security and a lifestyle that is hard to give up, but wake up. The huge salaries of Wall Street attracted the brightest, hardest working, greediest people in the country. There was fierce competition and innovation and it went unchecked. No one blew any whistles when it got out of hand because no one wanted to lose their high paying job, and don't tell me "we didn't know." I know people who work there. They all knew that what they were doing was unsustainable and had dire consequences. In the mean time you collectively ruined the American and by proxy the world economy.

24 April 2009

Picturequote

"Almost any man knows how to earn money, but not one in a million knows how to spend it. If he had known so much as this, he would never have earned it." - Henry Thoreau, journal entry from 1847, age 30

This is the Water Tower and John Hancock buildings in Chicago. I don't use much color film anymore as I can't print with it, but it does have qualities that can't be achieved in any other medium.

23 April 2009

Hydroponics Update #2

So remember that lettuce and basil garden I was working on? The lettuce has finally taken off and it's growing pretty fast. I think the basil is a week or two behind. I still have some modifications to do to the whole setup too.

These pictures are taken 25 hours apart:


Notice the new set of leaves on the basil in the upper-left hand corner.


And that's three posts about food in a row...

Salad > Hamburger

For the past few years I've been asking myself this question; why is a salad more expensive than a hamburger? It's illogical. At McDonald's you can buy a salad for about $5.50 or a hamburger for $1.00. You can even buy a fancy big mac or whatever for $2 or $3. How is this possible? A cow requires more feed than do some lettuce and vegetables, vegetables don't need to be slaughtered, sterilized, frozen, cooked, given antibiotics, etcetera. Basically, I'm arguing that it is simpler to make a salad than it is to make a hamburger.

Well, I had some loose ideas why this situation exists, but now I think I fully grasp the variables at play. My explanation comes from the documentary King Corn. Brief rundown of the movie; two guys move to Iowa, rent an acre of farmland, live with a farmer, plant corn, go around learning what happens to corn after it's harvested, find out almost all of it goes to feeding animals, realize their corn isn't edible, harvest said corn, lose money, and get close to breaking even because of government subsidies.

Let me first start with subsidies. An agricultural subsidy is essentially a financial incentive given by the government to farmers in an effort to change the behavior of the farmers. Carrot = subsidy; horse = farmer. Here's what a subsidy does to an agricultural good, in this case corn:


First, farmers grow more corn because they know that they'll get money from the government to do so. In the movie it was $28 dollars an acre. The actual commodity price they received for their 180 bushels of corn was about $300. Anyways, once the supply curve shifts to the right (increases) you can see that price drops from P1 to P2 and quantity increases from Q1 to Q2. The true market equilibrium is disrupted in favor of an artificial one brought about vies a vie a subsidy that produces more corn.

Prior to the 1970's this meant the government paid farmers to leave fields fallow in an effort to keep commodity/food prices high. They still do this in some cases. The whole system is mind bogglingly complex. Then Earl Buntz came along and told farmers to "get big or get out [and] plant hedgerow to hedgerow." In response farms got huge, small and medium sized farms got pushed out (which is fine it's a natural trend within the market), and food got a lot cheaper. So what's the catch?

Corn got crazy cheap, yields skyrocketed, and now it's in absolutely everything. Over 95% of the corn you've ever seen is completely inedible in its raw state. About half goes to livestock feed, a quarter goes to ethanol production, about a fifth is exported, and a mere 4% is used to make high fructose corn syrup. Which is crazy that that percentage is so small because it's in just about every packaged food and is the main ingredient in soft drinks.

So again, half of all corn is used as feed grain. It used to be the case that cows lived on open grass pastures and ate grass. Now cows are raised that way for the first half of their lives then put in confinement so that they fatten up quickly. During this time they're fed a grain (read: mostly corn) diet. This diet would literally kill the cow if it weren't for the fact that they're slaughtered after about 120-140 days after starting this process. This practice leads to beef that is three times higher in fat and contains less omega-3 fat (a hard to get essential fatty acid). So, more saturated fat and less omega-3; not good. There are a number of other reasons farming cows this way is illogical but you get the point. Bad for you, bad for the cow, and as I'm about to show, bad for your wallet.

So why is a salad more expensive than a hamburger? Because the meat industry is huge (read: efficient) and feeding cows is cheap because of subsidized corn and grain. Farmland that could be used to grow other crops that humans can actually consume ends up as acreage for feed corn. Hence, the price of other vegetables is artificially raised because there is less land to produce it on. The end result is a lot of beef that isn't good for you, cheap ubiquitous soft drinks, high vegetable prices, cheap McDonald's meals, and fat Americans. It's also worth mentioning that subsidies imply a certain degree of inefficiency. The reasoning goes that the government gets its money from you, the taxpayer, so in giving the farmers money to grow something that wouldn't otherwise be profitable they are in fact distorting economic signals.

My solution? Simple - slowly end the subsidies. Let the market decide what it wants and at what prices. It would also mean less bureaucracy.

Side note: ending farm subsidies would make agriculture in the US more of a truly "perfect competition" situation which is really exciting... to me.

22 April 2009

Sandwiches and Food Research

I recently ran across this site called Scanwiches which I found unique. I'm not sure if it was that inspiration nudging me subconsciously, or just the fact that I found a cheap produce store on my way to and from work.

Here is yesterday's red lettuce, tofu sauteed in garlic and olive oil, tomato, avocado, cucumber, red onion, jalapeno, and hummus sandwich on toasted wheat bread. It ended up at about 3" thick once I put on the top piece of bread and compressed it.


And here is today's romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, spinach, onion, red pepper, jalapeno, olive oil, and guacamole on toasted wheat bread.


It may be worth mentioning that lettuce and spinach make a sandwich look much more substantive than they really are - in terms of volume, not nutrition at. Of course this is the point. The mechanisms by which your brain tells you that you are full can be tricked. In this case your eyes are telling your brain there's a lot more calories and volume there than there really is. There's some really great work done by a guy named Brian Wansink on eating behavior. In one of his studies a soup bowl is designed to refill itself via a tube running underneath the table. Participants in his studies would unknowingly eat about 3/4 more soup simply because they could never finish. He has a plethora of elucidating experiments like this.

Among his other tips are to not eat directly out of containers as you tend to not recognize how much you're eating (about 1/3 more). Also, use smaller plates, you'll end up eating less and feel just as full. Here's a great new study he did on family style serving.

21 April 2009

Reading Material

Sudhir Venkatesh on loan sharks. From Freakonomics.

If you haven't checked out the blog Stuff White People Like please do. It's hilarious. Here's "taking a year off".

First plug-in hybrid slated to sell in the US in November... at $87,000 it barely counts as it isn't accessible to hardly anyone at that price point. The Aptera 2e seems more sensible at about a third the price and $0.015 per mile in electricity.

I love Daniel Hamermesh. He's a guest poster on Freakonomics and most of his posts are dry and somewhat boring, but sometimes they contain some really great insight or just wry economic critic that I love. This one is on his lack of empathy for those who lost a lot of their retirement funds.

Here's a Q&A with one of the featured scientists from the documentary The Linguists. Decent read, mostly just want to see the documentary. I've read a decent amount about the subject. That is, the number of languages that are going extinct as small cultures die off. Perhaps I'm ignorant but besides the novelty of having thousands of languages to keep up separated from foreign peoples I just don't see the need for such a variety. Lamentable but practical perhaps?

And by far the coolest story goes to an Apollo 14 astronaut who claims that aliens exist and have visited us. Normally I'd be skeptical as usual and explain that while I believe that we are not the only living organisms on the celestial block the whole "government cover up" thing is a bit crazy. But an astronaut? To be an astronaut you basically need to be a genius, have multiple PhD's, be a professional athlete in great shape, serve in the military, be an excellent pilot or scientist... see where this is going? They're quite possibly the only profession more credible and trustworthy than a doctor. Then again they are doctors... who can also do more push ups than you.

20 April 2009

What if You Could Live Forever?

In my last post of TED talks I linked to a video by Aubrey de Grey who talks about increasing the lifespan of humans. Here's a very good and long article that features him on MIT Technology Review. According to de Grey we could start seeing extensions in life expectancy in the next 25 years (the theory being that these extensions will keep you alive long enough to reap the fruits of the next breakthrough). So in a theoretical sense it's possible. Regardless of whether or not it is possible to live for a thousand years or indefinitely the question remains. What if you could? How would your behavior change? I've never really thought about that before, but it's a great thought experiment.

I would learn a bunch of languages. If you knew you were going to live to be a thousand years old what's 5 years of learning French, German, Italian, Japanese, etcetera? I'd probably be inclined to get a few PhD's too. Especially in medicine and law. The cost of going to school is high in terms of opportunity cost for such an unknown finite lifespan, but if medical school and residency is only .5% of your life as opposed to 10-15% it becomes much more attractive.

I'd be inclined to avoid cars, dangerous situations, and for that matter probably riding my bike through the city. If I live to be 78 or so (about average for someone my age) my odds of dying in a car crash are roughly 1 in 80 or 1 in 6,500 per year. Hell, I might even wear a light bullet proof vest... that seems extreme though (and it doesn't protect against head shots).

What about marriage and kids? How does that change? What about careers, or your view of global warming? What about jail sentencing, drug use, animal lifespan, or the length of schooling? I'm guessing a lot of our daily habits would change if we could live forever, and the interesting part is that in our lifetimes it's possible and in the long run it's more or less inevitable.

19 April 2009

Nothing but TED Talks

I love TED talks. For those of you who don't know what TED is (technology, entertainment, and design) it's a gathering of the world's best and brightest each year in California. Speakers give talks on a range of fascinating subjects generally related to making the world a better place. I started watching a bunch of videos today and here are some of my favorites.

Paul Collier on "the bottom billion". 17 min.

Bonnie Bassler on how bacteria communicate and what that means for next generation antibiotics. 18 min.

This isn't a very good video, but the story is crazy. Fast forward to 50 seconds into this talk about an African boy who built a windmill when he was 14. "How did you [learn to build a windmill]?" "I went to library, and I read a book titled Using Energy and I get information about windmill and I try and I made it." - William Kamkwamba, on building a windmill out of trash as a 14 year old in Africa.

Joseph Lekuton tells a Kenyan parable. 5 min.

Johnathan Haidt on the psychology of liberals and conservatives. This is a must view. 19 min.


Jill Bolte is a neuroscientist at Harvard who experienced a stroke and lives to tell you about it. She gets a bit trippy but her insights are stunning. Being a scientist she's very left (rational) hemisphere dominate but this portion of her brain is shut down during her stroke. She then for the first time sees the world from here right hemisphere's perspective. 19 min.

14 April 2009

More Cool Art

This is an awesome photographer by the name of Richard Ross. Hat tip: Steve Urich

Here's an art blog called Arrested Motion that has a ton of great artists on it.

This is Mark Wagner. He makes collages out of $1 bills. Here's an interview with him. Awesome stuff.

If This Were a News Blog...

The first 80% of the show would all be about unemployment, the depression we're denying we're in, and in general what went wrong. If you have any desire to read stuff like that then check out this Q&A with Richard Posner on Freakonomics. It's semi-easy to understand and spot on.

I guess number two on the list would be global warming (which should really be retitled global climate change). Here's a TED talk about cleaning the air with an incredibly easy to implement solution involving house plants.



Then probably a story about hybrid cars even though they aren't very viable. This is from GOOD Magazine and outlines cars and technologies you can actually buy now or in the near future.

And then they'd finish it off with a homicide story even though murder rates have been falling since the dawn of man. This is a TED talk by Steven Pinker.


13 April 2009

World's Luckiest Person

From the Bathroom Reader series...

Median versus Average Income in the US

The purpose of this post is to show the large gap in income in America. I was going to go further but seeing as how you can't even find the average income in the US on Google, Wikipedia, etc. I thought this was a story in and of itself.

If you type in U.S. GDP (gross domestic product) into Google you get 13.84 trillion. That's the total amount of money that our economy produces every year.

If you ask Google the U.S. population you get about 304 million (as of July 2008).

If you then take GDP and divide it by population something interesting happens; $45,553 comes out. That seems a bit high, no?

I'm not really trying to get into the current market events so much, as it has little to do with what I'm currently trying to show. The problem with dividing GDP by population is that the entire population doesn't work. Currently in the US about 154 million people comprise the workforce, and only 140 million of those have jobs, the rest are unemployed (currently about 9%, all of this can be found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, page 11). In March of 2008 there were 145 million working people in the US. If you take that same 13.84 trillion in GDP and divide it by a working population that numbers 145 million you get about $95,000 per worker... what? Only about 6.2% of workers make that much or more money, and the median wage of an individual over 25 years old is $32,000 for everyone or $39,000 for the full time worker.

Am I doing something wrong? Medians tend to be representative of "typical" in a sample size and not necessarily closely related to average, but for this to be the case there needs to be a large disparity in income. Of course we all know that this is the case, but still... that's a lot more than I expected. If $39,000 is typical and $95,000 is average that essentially means there are a lot of people making about $40K a year and a few people making a million a year. I'm a bit worried I'm assuming something I shouldn't be. This calculation worries me because I don't believe in the general notion of a meritocracy. That is, that wages follow hard work. It does to some extent, but not like many people believe. To attain that kind of money we're talking about you must rely on the labors of others. Others who are paid the 'median' of 2.5 times less than the average.

Reading for Monday

Apparently Dubai is a slave state run by dictators. It's a long read but if it's all true then it's worth it. Here's a blogger from Dubai who says otherwise. (HT: Freakonomics)

New experiments suggest that amino acids form and replicate with greater frequency than previously believed. Basically it's saying that the formation of life may not be so uncommon after all. The same ten amino acids that keep coming up in the experiments are also commonly found in meteorites that crash into earth... hm.

I've been reading a lot of GOOD Magazine recently which is really... good. The article below is features that crazy smart crazy dude I wrote about before, Raymond Kurzweil. He says just enough stuff that makes sense... but he also seems insane. The article deals with the future of transportation.

This is a short fascinating piece about unintended consequences due to restrictions. (HT: Freakonomics again)

On Forbes Sudhir Venkatesh, the sociologist featured in Freakonomics and who wrote Gang Leader for a Day, is profiled. He talks about poverty, the sex trade, and other marginalized segments of society. Great quote near the end: "[He] dismisses the 'culture of poverty' theory, which suggests that poor blacks in America don't work because they don't value employment. 'People in America want to work,' he says. They do so ever so industriously, even when they're breaking the law."

08 April 2009

Animal Videos

The most amazingly humane dairy ever. I doubt many dairies look like this. I'd pay an extra buck for a gallon of milk to know that the cows got to live better than me.



Too much time... (HT: Vija)

Reading Material

A new study shows that people with schizophrenia aren't fooled by the concave face - lite from the bottom optical illusion that the rest of us are. The video is interesting as hell. I couldn't not watch it. Total side note: at the end of the article it's mention that drunk and high people are often not fooled by the illusion much like people suffering from schizophrenia. Perhaps this explains why when watching a movie in one of these states I often can't buy into whatever the actors and scenery are trying to convince me of. Interesting.

Google talks with newspapers. Not exactly a riveting read, but a bit funny.

Food myths. One of those guys, Brian Wansink, I've been planning to write about forever and just haven't. His research is truly fascinating.

Just found this data website called data360.org... yikes. It's a collaborative open-source place to upload your data for others to see. Getting excited by such things... man. Their about us page is a good read too. Here's an excerpt:

"I continue to believe that responsible citizens must strive for objectivity when thinking about issues. To not strive for objectivity is to leave the realm of facts and enter the realm of dogma, doctrine proclaimed as true without proof. I believe that a current reality does exist and that from that situation, we are both confronted by real problems and that we are making real progress. Knowing specifically where there are problems and where there is progress is one crucial objective"

Word.

Poster Artists

My friend Justin started screen printing a while ago and has become quite popular and at the same time exposed me to this world where you can buy great original art for $25 or $30. Not too bad. Anyways, here are some of my favorite artists.

This is probably my favorite working artist at the moment. His name is Daniel Danger and he works out of San Francisco. Here's an interview with him and another impressive artist with a similar style, and he's an exhibit that both of them are in right now.


Here's a guy named Justin Myer that makes intaglio prints from photographs. Quite amazing.


These next three are probably the most prolific Chicago area printers, or at least the ones I tend to see the most. This is Jay Ryan. He's definitely the most famous gig poster screen printer out there.

This is Jay's wife Diane Sudyka. She also has some wonderful etchings and gig posters.


This is Dan Grzeca (pronounced Jetsah).


Here are some others too:

Jason Munn, The Small Stakes, minimalist but clean and well put together.

Nate Duval, just really original and all of his designs are quite different.

Bennet Holzworth, uses a letterpress to make very unique posters. I have the Modest Mouse one and it's amazing in person.

07 April 2009

Soilless Basil/Lettuce Garden


Here's a project I finally completed yesterday. On the left you can see my 2' square hydroponic basil and lettuce garden. It's pretty simple. Water is pumped from the 15 gallon reservoir (that black Rubbermaid container) into that white ebb and flow tray for about 15 minutes every hour. Lighting is provided by my north facing window (weakest light of any direction, boo) and a 2' strip of high output T5 florescents for 18 hours a day. I also set up some white construction board to help with light reflectivity.

Here you can see the plants in their growing medium which is called hydroton. It's basically just lightweight baked clay; expanded terracotta sort of. The green stuff is rockwool (fiberglass insulation without the flame retardant) that I used to start the seedlings. I'm growing: Italian large leaf basil, summer long basil, purple ruffles basil, spicy saber basil, little caesar lettuce, butter crunch lettuce, and burgundy ice lettuce.


This is the plant's food. It's supposedly the same stuff NASA uses in all their hydroponic research.


This is one of my purple basil plants. This is the plant I'm most excited for.


Picturequote

Throughout history there seems to be certain individuals who don't act or think like a person of their time. They tend to be anti-racism (Nietzsche), vegetarian (Einstein), anti-war (Gandhi, Churchill), or some combination of many admirable yet almost entirely unheard of ideas for their time. It is of course foolish to think that we have now reached some moral platitude and that this idea no longer applies to us presently. I wonder what such a person looks like today?

Here's one of my recent favorites:

"I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides." - Carl Sagan, PARADE Magazine 1996.

This is the sunset of my balcony bounced off of a glass door.


06 April 2009

Links for Monday

The internet - visualized.

Blog rankings for April 2009. I guess I missed the list... ha, but it's a great way to find new blogs that everyone else has found and enjoys.

Facebook spends $1 million a month on electricity and other interesting musings from TechCrunch.

Solar airplane flys around Europe. I want one.

05 April 2009

What in the... I'm Right?

I recently wrote about sustainable asset value. That is, buying things that tend not to depreciate rapidly in value. Gripping, I know. At the end of it I said this:

"Over half of the expenditures in the US are on shelter and transportation ($17,000 and $9,000 making $26,000 of the $50,000 total). More than half of our money goes towards moving you around and housing you."

I always wonder about the accuracy of the numbers I come up with, but then HUD just released this statistic two days after I posted about it. According to them nearly 60% of the average American's income goes to housing and transportation... Hm, so who reads this blog - seriously?

Reading Material

Someone finally replicated the Milgram experiments, sort of anyways. It hasn't been replicated because no review board would allow a similarly deceptive experiment to take place. The thoughts by a research assistant to Stanley Milgram are excellent.

The difference between a million and a billion shown graphically and in funnier comic form.

MIT Tech Review reads my blog (joke) and talks about electronic medical records and piracy (previously here and here, none of the links provided are especially great reads).

Q&A's with the author of the books Tyranny of Dead Ideas (good read, I may comment on it later) and Bottom Billion both from Freakonomics. The Bottom Billion guy, Oxford economist Paul Collier, kind of annoyed me. He had some great answers - he even mentioned Kiva as one of the best ways that Americans can get involved in Africa. The one that stuck out was this:

"I don’t know this stuff and don’t want to. But I am just about prepared to believe that the average Chinese person is smarter than the average Englishman." - Paul Collier after being asked about the controversial research of Richard Lynn.

Don't want to? Research regarding the average IQ of Asians by Richard Lynn
showed their IQ's to be slightly higher than that of Caucasians. This was later refuted by James Flynn, the world's (likely) leading expert on IQ, who stated counter to Lynn that in fact Asians historically have had slightly lower IQ's than that of whites (Asian Americans: Achievement Beyond IQ, 1991, taken from Outliers p. 231). The delicious irony being that Asians out earn whites significantly here in the US. I'm not trying to be prejudice or inflammatory or whatever. I just believe in scientific rigor. I believe these questions and their answers are important. How can you not want to know?

02 April 2009

No Balls Are Safe or I Miss Paintball

video

I'm sorry that the video is sideways, that's my fault. It was edited a long time ago by Chris Dilts.

In this video Jamin, one of the 2 or 3 "adults/mentors" on our team, is drunk as usually happens when it gets dark out. He barges into the hotel room beachside on the Pacific Coast and picks up Tommy by his balls. The signifigance of this is that anyone who gets shot during the day runs the risk of having "unsafe balls". It was kind of like motivation.

I made this as an 18 year old freshman in college using my brand new 5 megapixel digital camera that I carried with me on all my subsequent paintball trips. I abused that camera; it's no longer with us sadly, but it doesn't owe me anything either. This was the very first event of the reformed NPPL that took place in Huntington Beach, CA. I ended up playing in the NPPL for 5 years, 2 professionally, and a year after I quit they went bankrupt. The time in between was interesting though. I played with the same core of people for about 6 years. Lots of stories for another time.

A new 7-man league has emerged and it looks promising. It's called the USPL (US Paintball League). Their first event starts tomorrow at the same venue in Huntington Beach. It's a pretty amazing place to have a tournament. Anyways, one of my teammates just bought a professional franchise, Indianapolis Mutiny, in the new league. Best of luck to Mutiny and the USPL and a word of advice; focus on playing paintball and staying profitable. Promotion these days comes from being legit, not making lame videos, passing out flyers, and paying Fox for airtime.