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If this guy:

    Prior to his current role, Jason served as Deputy Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leading postsecondary innovation efforts to improve the outcomes of disadvantaged college students by investing in colleges, universities and entrepreneurs pursuing digital and adaptive learning, student coaching and advising, financial aid innovation, and employer pathways. Prior to the Foundation, Jason founded and grew three investor-backed technology and services companies before holding a series of executive positions at Microsoft, SchoolNet, Kaplan and StraighterLine. At Kaplan, Jason led three education businesses as general manager or president, in addition to founding and leading the company’s venture capital effort.

doesn't "get it" then "it" shouldn't be gotten. If your business is investing in educational technology and you aren't allowed to point out educational technology that shouldn't be invested in, this whole artifice needs to come down, man.

These guys should be allowed to comment. If you're following them on Twitter, it's because you want to know what they think about stuff. A Zuckerberg and Thiel-funded libertarian spankbank that eats shit to the tune of $250m? We need the world to talk about that shit.

mike  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: September 4, 2019

Got married.

zebra2  ·  18 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: August 28, 2019

I'm engaged! We've only been together 10 years, so it's not like that much has changed, but still!

Okay, so this is going to be a long one. And the only reason I'm still awake at this hour is because I closed the shop.

During my second year of university I had space for a few electives. My major was declared as economics for one reason: grades. The first year was political science, but as I'm sure you're all aware first year is just general anyway. And it's easier to get 90+ in classes where there's a right answer than classes where there isn't. Not saying my essays sucked, but they never handed out 90's. I was trying get into business school, which was a second entry program after two years and in order to do that I had to beef up my application as hard as possible. And they weren't making it easy. In addition to the high grades, you needed "leadership experience" in extracurricular activities. So I was scheming in-between my full-time course load, student clubs, and trying to get a promotion at my part-time job to find organizations and things I could do to make myself palatable.

And I did a lot of this shit. I was in Nicaragua too, for some reason, before the crackdown. I took a class, international politics, during which the professor told us that the school was offering an experiential learning "research" course to go to Rwanda and it would be entirely paid for by the school. Grant money. I figured, why not? It's going to be in the summer, I'll get to work on a research project, do an essay about the post-genocide reconstruction in the region, and hopefully get experience if I ever decided to transition into some type of career in global development.

Yep, you're right. I had to pay for it. $1500 out the ass.

The class was structured in such a way that we met bi-weekly before the departure date of the actual trip. We spent a lot of time analyzing the history and politics of Rwanda, past and present. Essentially the division between Hutus and Tutsis was largely created by colonization, they weren't so much tribes as they were "social classes" prior to colonization. It was more an identifier of how much stuff you had. You could move between classes if you acquired wealth or property. Post-Belgian colonization however, it was a different story.

One of the main topics we discussed was the gacaca court system that was established following the genocide. It was an ad-hoc judicial system created because it was physically impossible to train that many lawyers and try that many people after the destruction of the country. A large part of what we debated was the effectiveness of the gacaca system and whether the potential for error was worth it in that political climate.

One of the biggest challenges in post-genocide reconstruction is the fact that Rwanda is a centralized state under control of Paul Kagame and his party. There were efforts made to decentralize the government after 2001 but still, Rwanda is essentially a capitalist state under semi-totalitarian control. It's one of the fastest growing economies in the region. It's a safe country, like unreasonably so. And I think most people would say that's a miracle given what happened. There was an opposition party, not "hutu power", but a green party trying to implement a more fair democracy and their leader was murdered. On a local and council level (the topic of my research) social structures are still very totalitarian and you can get in a lot of trouble by stepping out of line. It is very difficult to study people's attitudes in Rwanda for two reasons, 1) people will typically lie or embellish the truth to foreigners and 2) society is very regimented. It doesn't have to be the threat of jail, being "that guy" in your village and local council means you're basically screwed in terms of employment, and survival. And so resistance comes passively, refusing to participate in government-ordained meetings, irreverent compliance, being mute, whatever you can do.

So segregation is illegal in Rwanda. It is not socially acceptable to identify yourself as Hutu or Tutsi. Those distinctions have been removed from all identity documents. You're not allowed to talk about it. A famous story in Rwanda happened about 15 years ago when Hutu militants stormed into Rwanda from the DR Congo and held children hostage in a classroom. When they attempted to divide the children by Hutu and Tutsi, they replied saying "We are neither. We are one Rwandans."

There were some cool people in the class, but we know what the stress of travelling can do to people, especially when you're doing it with complete strangers. I didn't realize how south this was going to go before it was too late.

First day, there was a layover in Amsterdam. Buddy is already hammered in the airport bar. His friend turns to me and says "bro, are you fucking sittin' on that?", referring to a beer. The trip had barely begun and I had to come to the realization that yes, in fact I had been sitting on it. I didn't realize it then, but this was going to be a lot harder than I had originally anticipated.

These people, there were about two or three, were basically drunk the entire trip. There was a lot of infighting. Their God was Doug Ford, and his girlfriend. I basically only talked to like 3 people who were sort of being excluded by the rest of the group. And I didn't necessarily hit it off well with them either, it's just the alternative was an uncomfortable silence. There were a lot of right-wing arguments and anti-Palestine rhetoric was flowing through the buses and hotel rooms. The one drunk dude had ambitions in law enforcement, I think.

The next two weeks were spent travelling across the entire country, following a strict itinerary, meeting with organizations, going to an epic soccer game, meeting genocide survivors (one person I recall fled into the DR Congo when he was a child and returned years later to found a successful tech company). We also painted a house for some lady. We met gacaca court judges. During this process I had to keep everything logged on my blog which I hosted on my website. I'll try to dig it up if I can to maybe expand on this post.

We also went to a lot of genocide memorials, and places Roméo Dallaire was at. The thing about genocide memorials in Rwanda is it's not like visiting Auschwitz. Human skulls, bones, fragments of clothing are all out there in the open. No, not behind a glass case. I mean you're inches away from hundreds of hundreds of dead people with no barrier. It's pretty terrifying. Or seeing open graves that you knew hundreds of people had been thrown into. Not even the Church, which was off-limits in their culture was a safe space from the genocidaires. They weren't afraid of God.

The extent of the human tragedy in Rwanda is beyond comprehension until you've been there. I've met killers, and the families of people they've killed. And they forgave them. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of individuals convicted of murder during the genocide went out to ask for forgiveness from the families of the people whose lives they cut short. And they often got that forgiveness. It was incredible. It was the human spirit.

By the end of this, basically nobody was talking to each other. The professor was pissed at the TA, the TA's friends were pissed at everyone else who was pissed at them. People were deleting each other on Facebook. Blasting "Big Hard Sun" by Eddie Vedder wasn't helping. People were crying. The whole thing was a disaster. The experience was life-changing but it taught me never to travel with strangers ever again. I wasn't allowed to find out why people were upset, I was the outsider.

But the Rwandan lawyers I met were cool. They followed me on Instagram and thanked me for avoiding alcohol and replacing it with Lacroix. I drank on top of the hill in Kigali in a fancy restaurant, in the nicest bar in the entire land overlooking the convention centre (google it) while that guy stole a beer from the restaurant and drank it on the bus ride home. We got on the plane and went back. Back to our world.

flac  ·  32 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: August 14, 2019x 2


More to follow after honeymoon.

ilex  ·  18 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Google: Building a more private web says it better than I ever could.

I'm sure some people at google care about privacy and user freedom, but google itself clearly does not.

Apologies for the delayed response- I spent almost all of yesterday driving.

I think the issue I hold with the above thought experiment is that you've managed at once to overly narrow and broaden the subject of the discussion to a point at which the original subject matter gets lost in the shuffle. We're no longer talking about racism versus nationalism versus xenophobia, we're talking about the merits and pitfalls of Sharia law- essentially a policy discussion. And we can argue the benefits and pitfalls of Sharia, but it's a little like listening to somebody complain about the Jews' conspiracy to control world media and then say, "let's dig into that, though; would a worldwide monopoly on the media really benefit us as a polity?"

Reading Roseanna and Amy's comments as charitably as you have for a moment, I'll discard nearly every other portion of the original quote; I'll ignore the part about "stinkin' Muslim crap" and "Muslim through and through" and "that's not America" and the speculation of whether or not this Somali immigrant-cum-stateswoman is here legally, and focus solely, as you'd have it, on her passing reference to Sharia. We then have to examine where she got this "Sharia" notion. Is there anything in Omar's voting record that indicates an affinity towards Sharia law? Have Rosanna and Amy studied Sharia? Do they even know what it means? In order to have the discussion you want, we have to take it as a matter of course that when they say "all that Muslim crap," they only take issue with the specter of Sharia, and that they are coming to the discussion with a viewpoint as informed as your own vis-a-vis apostasy, vis-a-vis state response to homosexuality, vis-a-vis capital and corporal punishment, etc. Furthermore, we have to grant that they care to recognize that "Sharia" only encompasses one practical portion of a fundamentalist minority of the world's second largest religion with a history spanning several millennia.

But ultimately, to do so would be absurd. I think you and I can agree without too much controversy that in the above case, "Sharia" is shorthand. It's a condensation of a rich and broad culture into a bogeyman signifier. Look, here's Islam:

And here's Islam:

And here it is again:

So why is it that in these discussions we always have to approach it from the terms of this

and this

and this?

You opened the discussion searching for a working definition of racism. I'd say that when person A narrows the culture, religion, and physical characteristics of person B down to the basest caricature, and then rejects person B based on that caricature, that's as good a definition of racism as one might need.

So, then. If it's not too hypocritical (I'll leave that up to your good judgment), I'd argue a sort of like-for-like. If someone is comfortable simplifying my cultural standpoint down to a cartoonish shorthand, I'm comfortable discarding the finer distinctions between xenophobia, racism and nationalism in favor of a catch-all term, in this case racism. The problem with ten-dollar words is that they have a way of sterilizing subject matter. As a for instance, "nationalism" has recently been re-introduced into the American lexicon as a non-pejorative. If we call all of what was discussed above "ethno-nationalism" rather than "racism," isn't it entirely possible that we might then inadvertently deem such behavior acceptable? Better to err on the side here of stigma rather than normalization, I think. Racism is a fine word for it.

For all that, though, your point is well taken. We could be only a little less charitable to the above actors and assume that their issue with Rep. Omar has nothing to do with the color of her skin in conjunction with her cultural background, and only has to do with her religion. When John F. Kennedy ascended to the presidency, there were those who vocally decried his "Papist" affinities and wondered whether the Vatican would now run the White House. This isn't a perfect analog for our current discussion, but it subtracts the thornier issues of phenotype. In which case, "racism" wouldn't exactly fit the bill, would it? Taken in this light, I can respect your original point. I ask you, then, to reconsider mine. Whether or not the dumbing-down of a religious or cultural group to base signifiers, and then ascribing nefarious motives to this simplified Other is racist or xenophobic or ethno-nationalist becomes extraneous. It all merits an unequivocal condemnation.

flac  ·  53 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: July 24, 2019

Y'all. The wedding suit is DONE (almost).

Still needs doing: strap for the vest, slip-stitching on vest/jacket/pants, sleeve buttons for jacket, hem for pants, lots of cleaning up (unfortunately, there are some small iron burns on the lapels of the jacket which I'm trying to figure out how to deal with).

This was the biggest sewing project I've undertaken, and I am generally really pleased with how it turned out. The suit fit me really poorly as-is because I am pretty lanky and fall in-between two sizes, so I had to do a lot of alterations, and still might do some more here and there. Unfortunately, this was after I had already bound the seams of the jacket with bias tape, so the insides of the jacket are not as clean as I would like.

The suit is made of a linen, which was fucking HORRIBLE to work with because of how much it stretched and shrunk throughout the process.

All told, it took three days to sew - one for the vest, one for the pants, one for the jacket. This was my first time making any of these patterns, so there was lots of learning to do.

T-Minus 17 days til the wedding. Still need to make rings, but that can wait another day.

nil  ·  26 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Ergodicity - Bringing altruism and collaboration into economic theory

Alright Hubski, it's go time. It's 9:04PM here in the Western province, ya boi nil is about to go off on the economic theories once again. I need a joint.

    Any threat to these ideas could also be an implicit threat to that power – and to the people who possess it. Their response might be brutal.

This is presuming you put much stock in economic theory to begin with. AFAIK only very right wing think tanks attempt to use economics primarily to make policy arguments. Occasionally left-wing ones do too, but that's more nitpicking unrelated "studies" about the effects of raising the minimum wage and happiness research, not "is this fair in a world of utility-maximizing agents," and "social hierarchy is natural" or "we need the Leviathan." Correlating a variety of economic variables to conclude, yes, mass incarceration sucks ass. That paragraph at the beginning of the article about a famous economist being murdered was a trip. A physicist or politician being murdered makes better sci-fi, I think.

    But there is one odd feature in this framework of expectations – it essentially eliminates time. Yet anyone who faces risky situations over time needs to handle those risks well, on average, over time, with one thing happening after the next.

I thought this article was going to primarily be a work of behavioural economics, i.e. how to use psychological studies to predict how people make decisions and try to explain how altruism and collaboration fits into the idea of "utility-maximization" in the present moment. Instead, it's an article about how economics presumes selfishness because it doesn't explain how people make choices over time, and with uncertainty. This should sound ridiculous to anyone who has taken an economics or finance course.

    Many see no alternatives. But that’s a mistake. This inspired LML efforts to rewrite the foundations of economic theory, avoiding the lure of averaging over possible outcomes, and instead averaging over outcomes in time, with one thing happening after another, as in the real world.

The idea of imagining possible futures over time is nothing new even in old-fashioned economic theory. Students of economics should realize by second or third year that pretty soon they're going to have to integrate the expected utility function of microeconomics into a more macro framework in an attempt to synthesize broader economy-wide outcomes. That's what Modern Macroeconomics by Chugh is about. You do utility-maximizing problems over time with a time-discounting factor. Now, you have to do a little more to integrate possible uncertainties into the mix, maybe some econometrics, but you're essentially evaluating utility over time with a basket of goods. You even consider how entire households function in this way. It blows my mind how this person thinks this is a "recent development."

    Many people – including most economists – naively believe that these two ways of thinking should give identical results, but they don’t. The upshot is that a subtle and mostly forgotten centuries-old choice in mathematical thinking has sent economics hurtling down a strange path.

I don't see how they could. If "most economists" are making this basic mathematical error, you really need to start questioning the efficacy of education in this country. These people actually ploughed through economics grad school. Even financial wonks know how to graph shit over time. Welcome to Investments, the textbook. Black-Scholes model? Time-weighted return? There's like 10 different ways to measure "return on investment." And bruh, the standard deviation is NOT a forgotten centuries-old choice in mathematical thinking. Nor is running a linear regression in Gretl or R. How is this author a physicist?

And then, there's game theory. One of the primary things you learn in game theory is that yes, the rational choice is usually to cheat but that can be avoided if either you create an external influence such as a "law" or, you set up the game to last so many rounds over time that you want to cooperate in the present to prevent more negative outcomes in the future. Here's some Yale lectures about that. (yes, I realize this specific game benefits selfishness but there's a whole section on cooperation vs. conflict).

So all you really need to do after that point is set up the game with a) imperfect information b) try to use psychology and c) time-discount future rewards and you have this concept. It's nothing brand-spanking new. It's an attempt to increase the complexity of the dismal science to make it more palatable to the average person who can clearly sense the excessive reductionism that micro 101 is in the first place. And even with all those elaborate attempts to get closer and closer to reality, it never will be reality, because the most complex thing you will EVER experience is this. exact. moment., in your animal body, and your fucking eyeballs, looking at this computer screen, or your smartphone, or your toaster running OpenBSD because you think the government is reading your thoughts and no mathematical equation or psychological study will ever be able to fully encapsulate that.

See you next Tuesday.

user-inactivated  ·  43 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Labor Econ Versus the World

    But then, I've been having online debates since before you were born. My first "internet" experience was using an acoustic coupler to dial into the University of Colorado to play a MUD on a terminal whose only output was a daisywheel printer. I missed being OG "eternal September" by a year. And what I've noticed over the past ten years (but not the past twenty, and not the past 25) is the retreat of anyone over 30. It didn't used to be this way. It started when GenZ hit college.

    So those of us who remember? Those of us who know? We're left with a choice - figure out how to tell you that you're wrong in such a way that your feelings aren't hurt... or find something better to do.

Thank you for putting into words what I have been going through personally in regards to the internet over the last at least 5-6 years. Funny, now that you mention it, where are all the old farts on the internet? Where did they go? How is it that a whole class of people can just stop interacting and nobody noticed? Suddenly, I don't feel like the grumpy old codger of an asshole I have been dealing with as I walk away from the toxic swirling drain of garbage that is the Internet. Nothing in the online space is really worth the bullshit any more and I have better stuff to do that is actually worth spending my time on.

Your words have helped me and for that I will be eternally grateful. Be well.

Nope. Not buyin' it. Many of the excesses of capitalism can be traced to indentured servitude prior to slavery and many more can be traced back to penal servitude prior to indentured servitude. The excesses of capitalism were imported directly from England, which wasn't a standout in Europe for feudal brutality by any measure.

More than that, we fought a war against slavery and it's not like things got better for everyone after the elimination of slavery, nor were things fine and dandy in the North where slavery was abolished. Most of the worst aspects of capitalism arose during the Gilded Age where wage slavery was an essential part of the economy and where industrialists thought it was fine and dandy to hire private armies like the Pinkertons to murder union sympathizers and organizers.

American capitalism is brutal because America, Britain and the other "neoliberal" countries of the world cast capitalism and socialism as Manichean absolutes whereas the rest of the world saw them as poles on a spectrum. Once the Tsar fell, the world spent a hundred years realigning itself on that spectrum. Those forces that were most directly oppositional to communism ended up with the most free-market excesses; those that were most directly oppositional to capitalism ended up with the most excesses of a command economy.

The non-aligned movement allowed nations that were not directly required to kowtow to one ideology or another to pick and choose the market characteristics that they wanted without adhering solely to one pole or the other. This is why countries like France have many free-market aspects and many socialist aspects. The effects are masked in other nations by graft, corruption and cronyism but by and large, the rest of the world uses socialist aspects where they make sense and capitalist aspects where they make money without crushing everyone. The problem is that cronyism destroys socialism eventually while it buttresses and strengthens capitalism.

American capitalism is brutal because for 60 years we were able to point at the Soviet Union and China and Cuba and Vietnam and Cambodia and Nicaragua and Venezuela and say "WE DON'T WANT THAT AND IF YOU DO YOU ARE THE ENEMY." Up until 2016, "socialist" was an epithet in American political discourse. Up until 1989, "socialist" was part of the title of our greatest enemy. Therefore, anything that sniffed of socialism was un-American by definition and anything capitalist was desirable.

Survival of the fittest, bitchez.

kleinbl00  ·  43 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Labor Econ Versus the World

I've been thinking about this comment for a while. From my perspective, Hubski has become a lot more polite than it used to be. "I disagree with you, and you're dumb for thinking this way" is an appropriate response when your counterpart is espousing ideas that are demonstrably wrong.

But then, I've been having online debates since before you were born. My first "internet" experience was using an acoustic coupler to dial into the University of Colorado to play a MUD on a terminal whose only output was a daisywheel printer. I missed being OG "eternal September" by a year. And what I've noticed over the past ten years (but not the past twenty, and not the past 25) is the retreat of anyone over 30. It didn't used to be this way. It started when GenZ hit college.

Because here's the thing: you can be wrong. People are wrong all the time. And when they're wrong, and they're asking questions as to whether they're right, they need to be told they're wrong. When they're holding opinions that you judge to be harmful and toxic, they need to be told they're wrong in such a way that the toxicity is front-and-center. This has been accepted social conversational doctrine my entire life; it was the basis of every single-camera and multi-camera sitcom going back to I Love Lucy. It's the core of Nancy Reagan's Just Say No. It's the basis of Dennis Leary's career.

But a funny thing happened about 2010, 2011. Conversations on the internet started demanding that both sides are always right, and that if one side has absolutely all the facts, they still need to politely assert that they don't have all the facts lest the other side stop listening because their feelings are hurt.

I didn't really grasp why until I'd been back to college, until I'd seen my kid start school, until I had reason to explore the pedagogy of education in these United States and what I discovered is that a doctrine of exploration and self-education has, in most school districts, become an insistence that no one is ever wrong. Whatever ideas you may have, they automatically have merit through the simple act of holding them and if those ideas are to be discounted, they must be discounted by the holder, on the holder's terms, for reasons that are valid only to the holder.

For my part, I came to Hollywood in 2007 and was immediately sheep-dipped into a culture where the people who are wrong are wrong immediately, they are wrong incontrovertibly and the sooner we can get things right the less money we lose because there are 28 people and millions of dollars of gear waiting on your mistake. You can get over your butt-hurt later because we've got shit to do. Your assessment of the world is not the core issue here, it's the broader context and your place in it is entirely optional because there's a long line of people behind you who will do your job without getting wrapped up in whether or not you were right to have your feelings hurt. Likewise, my wife's profession involves life safety and regular discussions with emergency rooms and aid cars. She is surrounded by students who have opinions, who have their knowledge, who have their confidence, and are not going to be walked through whether or not an iron level of 18 should go to the ER "in their opinion" because somebody could die and somebody else has the expertise to answer the question.

And you can't fight the tape. The world is definitely heading towards safe spaces where we never confront each other over our racism or ageism or anything else because that's not the sort of shit you do face-to-face and person-to-person, you see, if you want to strike a blow for social justice you do it by ratioing Twitter threads. You do it by regramming. You do it through in-jokes and memes that Vice will wring their hands over obliquely. Actually telling someone they're wrong? In a conversation? Perish the thought.

So those of us who remember? Those of us who know? We're left with a choice - figure out how to tell you that you're wrong in such a way that your feelings aren't hurt... or find something better to do.

One of the things that bugged the shit out of me when I was your age was people who said "when I was your age." What bugged me more was people who would say "you'll understand when you're older." It's intellectually lazy. It's an appeal to authority based on nothing more than hang time. It's "respect your elders" without any underpinning justification. But it's also a cry for help - it's a statement that "I don't know why you're wrong, but you're wrong, fucking listen to me because I've been around the sun a couple dozen more times than you have and that ought to count for something."

I maintained then and I maintain now that an idea needs to stand on its own, regardless of who puts it forth. What I've learned by growing gray hairs, however, is that it's an instinct borne of the knowledge that simply being ass-in-seat for longer will teach you something, even if you can't elucidate it, even if you can't share it, even if you can't describe it. "Respect your elders" is ultimately based on the same sentiment as Neils Bohr's quote "an expert is someone who has made every mistake there is to make in a narrow field." You might not be able to explain why your opinion is right and their opinion is wrong based solely on the fact that they're half your age, but prejudicially speaking, at least, you've had longer to change your mind.

A lot of people don't have the patience to constantly reframe an argument in their opponent's terms. "You're right, but also impolite about it" has become the most common refrain I've seen over the past ten years whereas the 20 years before that were full of "you're full of shit, let me count the ways, asshole." I'll take the profanity, thanks; it doesn't immediately shift the conversation to whether or not the information was presented in the proper tone of voice.

Most people? Given the choice between having a conversation at a tenor that satisfies the other person no matter how wrong they are or silence? They'll pick silence. And that's how a whole new generation of kids are growing up with the idea that unions are useless, that public school doesn't matter, that feminism is irrelevant, that you're entitled to believe measles is better than measles vaccines. Because those of us who can argue the opposite have given up the effort of explaining it to you because you reject that there can be one right answer. Have given up on defending our certainty of knowledge because we've had this fight since you were born. Have given up on educating the youth because the youth don't want to be educated, they want to be patronized.

Because if the only people you're willing to listen to are the ones who are speaking in your approved tone of voice, the only people you'll hear are the ones you agree with.

swedishbadgergirl  ·  102 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 5, 2019

Guess who finally has a high school diploma? This girl!

OftenBen  ·  87 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 19, 2019

My long term disability got approved last week. No appeals, no court battle, just long months of waiting and a few of scraping brokeness.

I get my full package, benefits and 401k contribution included.

Thankful to be able to take some time to actually take care of myself the way I need to. Eat the way I should, daily. Take exactly the medications I should, without thinking about rationing, daily. Attend cardiac rehab and be able to pay my copay. Have to do some doctor shopping, new psych, new pain doc, but it's manageable.

Truthfully I'm kind of numb. I want to be elated, we went out to a nice dinner to celebrate, but it hasn't set in yet that I actually got the benefits that I earned, that I signed up for years ago specifically for when the day came that I needed them. I guess I find it hard to believe that the corporate end of the bargain is being held up.

Just need some time to process I guess.

Finished The Universe in a Nutshell, gonna re-read it for the sake of clarity and comprehension before moving on to the next one. Hawking is a wonderful breather from Durant.

blackbootz  ·  88 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 19, 2019

gonna be a data scientist?

Got accepted to Lambda School! It's an intensive coding bootcamp I'll start in September: nine months of 40 hours a week online instruction, following instructors build applications and building our own under their supervision. I'm told that it's the same or more amount of coding as in a 4-year CS degree.

My acceptance is conditional on completing "precourse work" which I'm finding involves a steep learning curve. It dawned on me that this is their weeding out process. I'm not averse to the approach at all; instructional time is better spent on more complicated things than learning to define variables or importing libraries. But some of the later assignments which I haven't gotten to yet have names like linear algebra, pandas, training models with sklearn. Thankfully, there is a metric fuckton of resources online for learning the basics of python on your own.

I'll speak to my decision for the subspeciality--data science--at a later pubski.

summer 2019 curriculum

In addition to the coding I'm doing this summer, I'm training and coaching gymnastics. I'm basically living at the gym and a bagel place next to it. Had a really discouraging day today. I'm so old and stiff. Trying to remember that there are a lot of slow-going, sometimes deeply uncomfortable and miserable days that comprise the road to progress.


Officiating my best friends' wedding this Saturday; been reading my speech every day in preparation. It brings me chills. "I now have the privilege to announce--for the very first time as husband and wife--Andrew and Grace."

Devac  ·  94 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 12, 2019

As of about an hour ago, I'm no longer a student. BSc² -> MSc², yo.

PhD application process in progress.

kleinbl00  ·  102 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 5, 2019


Had Veen and 'bootz out last week. Veen for ten days, 'bootz for three. Did much hosting. Had many "what do I do with my life" conversations. Drank astonishingly little alcohol. Spent a few hours showing veen how to take apart a watch; apparently the parts Elgin I bought last year is hella more hammered than even I knew 'cuz my screwdrivers looked brand new for the past two years but as soon as I had to get the dial off that thing I'd snapped two blades.

Veen asked if I ever experienced "impostor syndrome" when it came to watchmaking. It's a fair question. After all, two years ago I knew virtually nothing. Thing of it is, though, it's an extremely shallow field. Immersing myself in it for a year and a half has me revealing manufacturers and history my instructors never knew, manipulating small parts my instructors can't manipulate and knowing by heart industry statistics that lifelong watchmakers are completely incredulous about.

I learned as an acoustical consultant - a trade that requires a mechanical engineering or physics degree and several years experience with esoteric empirical knowledge - that the way you prove your worth in a gnostic field is by slagging on others. The normies don't know so if you piss all over everyone else they assume you're pissing with reason. And watchmakers piss all over everyone. As a group their shit doesn't stink and if you ask 'em questions they'd best put your ass in its place. Their Facebook groups are largely about how stupid customers are, how stupid vendors are, and how horrible everyone is to their preciousssssss.

Here's the thing, though. A mechanical watch movement has between 50 and 250 parts, from the most basic to the most fiddly chronograph. Yeah there are watches with more but really, it's a bunch of gears ("wheels") and axles ("pinions") and other jargon and they only interact mechanically. The engine your Toyota has 5-600 parts and that's just the mechanical shit. A fuckin' fuel injector is like 30 parts and for it to work you've got fluid mechanics, electromechanics, electronics and thermodynamics. Not only that but your average "watchmaker" has no idea how to do anything other than fix the mechanical bits and polish what's there. It's a specialist field where nearly everything else is farmed out to other specialists. And I've been spending the past year neck deep in the "other specialists" shit - I've mixed three seasons of television while also earning sixty college credits in the past year while also spending maybe 300 hours (and $28k or so) in pursuit of "watchmaking" (which is what we call "being a watch mechanic"). I know more about watches and their repair than a few manufacturers I know.

But my daughter was whiney on Sunday. There was a little drama. She insisted she wasn't whining. I let her know (during the hug-it-out period) that if I'd used her tone of voice when I was a kid I would have been shouted at, possibly spanked and sent to my room without any supper and that sometimes I have a hard time when she does stuff I wasn't allowed to do, even if the stuff I wasn't allowed to do didn't really make sense. She asked why my parents were so mean. I said I didn't know. She asked if I told them to stop being mean and I said "I didn't know they were mean, they were the only parents I had" and she said "but you aren't mean" and I burst into uncontrollable tears.

And I mean, she doesn't know. She has no more insight into my suckitude than I had into my parents'. But I had a pretty good idea by 3 that my relationship with my parents was dissimilar to my peers. And whereas every picture I have of myself as a youth is of a haunted-eyed little spooky kid, my daughter is happy to the point of mania in photos. The great thing about kids is they love you unreservedly and worship everything you do (until they become teenagers, anyway). The terrible thing about kids - for me, anyway - is that you're never, ever worthy of it.

I am blowing off the rest of my schooling. Jewelry class for the past 10 weeks has been bang-on-shit-with-a-hammer class and I have received exactly zero instruction. I crafted a silver cup from a sheet using nothing but a hammer - it looks like a Riedel stemless champagne flute. I coated it in Japanese enamel to see what the colors look like. And it looks amateurish and silly because I received zero instruction in enameling. I have some interesting parts from that class, but everything I made I made without any input or insight from anyone while also being sniped by everyone around me (because jewelers are like watchmakers but with less schooling). And I cleaned out my bag, and I'm going to take the F (I'm yearning for that F - I'm eager to have it sit there - so that the instructor knows we're enemies now), and I'm going to pursue my own thing because where I'm going I don't need roads. I set micro-pave last year without knowing the first thing about it and while it looks like hammered shit, the next one won't and if you set out to learn how to do micro-pave the first thing you do is apprentice in Antwerp and get yourself a $2500 microscope.

But I've got a Valjoux 7750 that's misbehaving and when you look up the symptoms the Internet tells you to "take it in for service" and what they don't tell you is that at the price point of that 7750 the "servicepeople" are going to swap the movement and I'm wondering if I fucked it up by wearing it in beat-on-shit-with-a-hammer class. See, I know beyond a reasonable doubt what I know about fixing watches. But when the internet tells me I have no idea how to wear a watch I'm perfectly willing to believe them because I'm fucking white trash and I know it down to my very bones.

This washed across my transom this morning. You don't need to click on it. It's a puff piece about a jeweler opening a new boutique. They're spending about $1.3m and creating ten jobs. Woo hoo. News piece. I built a birth center with about $350k and our payroll now has nine people on it. We're setting up a Vaccines for Children program and it's going to be three phone calls, one contractor and three SKUs purchased. We'll be up in a month. Shit's trivial. Sure as fuck isn't worth making an international trade magazine.

My daughter spent her weekend putting together "scent packs" - her idea of play is to pick herbs, wrap them in paper, put together a merchandising display and haul it into class in an egg carton so that she can dominate a pinecone economy she created. Yeah. My daughter is getting others to hoard pinecones for her by selling artisanal herbs out of my garden. Told my wife this wasn't something all the kids had come up with, like we thought, but my daughter's idea and she said "well it's not surprising, she is the daughter of two entrepreneurs, after all." I immediately said "well, one entrepreneur and one loser who wastes a lot of time and money on useless knowledge." She was quiet for a minute and then said

"That's you talking, not me."

I spent $1300 so that Christie's could teach me the history of jewelry design. It's not a course for jewelers, it's a course for bored old rich ladies. I tell you what, though - ain't nobody in there gonna say that you should feel bad for owning gold jewelry because it's mined illegally in the Amazon for use in iPhones. When I'm done I hope to have a rich old lady's understanding of jewelry as propagated by Christie's because it's hella more useful to me than an angsty community college assistant's understanding of jewelry as propagated by indignant environmental movies. After all, jewelry makers call byzantine chain "idiot's delight." Jewelry sellers call it ten grand.

George Friedman recommended the works of Herman Wouk yesterday. This passage caught my eye:

    Even more instructive was the character Armin von Roon, a German general and aristocrat, whom Pug Henry met in Germany, and who wrote an operational analysis of the war that Henry translates into English. Wouk explains German strategy in detail and unapologetically. He argues powerfully that Germany was forced into a war it didn’t want and lost it only because of the ruthless cunning of Roosevelt. I didn’t agree with it, and I thought he was falsifying history, yet Wouk’s emulation of a brilliant German general explaining his country was, in my view, Wouk’s moment of genius. It was not just that he explained it but, in that passage, he reminded me of something I learned in philosophy. I was taught that you must understand a philosopher as he understood himself. Wouk showed that you must understand a nation as it understands itself. You may take issue with philosophers of a nation, but only after you have disciplined yourself to understand them as they understand themselves. And when you do that you not only understand important things, but you learn to compel your soul to listen and learn, even from evil. From Wouk I learned the suspension of judgement without plunging into the abyss of relativism.

"Impostor syndrome" is, to me, the "abyss of relativism." I know what I know about the outside world because I can vouch for that knowledge. I fought for it, I tested it, I verified it, I expanded it into corners it was never meant to illuminate. The inside world is, has been and shall always be a dark and dismal failure because my n will never be greater than one.

I have no doubts that I will be able to create and sell luxury timepieces. And I have no doubts that I will feel uncomfortable wearing one for as long as I draw breath. And that's pretty much where I am this Wednesday.