Jun 22

Custom Data Ya’ll

This is a chart my amazingly talented partner put together that shows the S&P 500 inflation-adjusted index vs. PE ratio.


Look at that PE spike during the Great Recession. Conventional wisdom would tell you not to buy then. (That’s when we bought.)

This is valuable because how often you see major indices not inflation-adjusted.

Jun 22

Age Disc

Obviously age discrimination is de facto policy at many companies.

And it’s to save money, of course — but I wonder if there isn’t another factor contributing?

HR is if you haven’t noticed usually filled with very young people, typically right out of college (Usually young women, but that doesn’t really matter I don’t think.)

Just an idea. No clue if it has any explanatory power, but I wonder how much age discrimination is just a fait accompli of a bunch of 23-year-olds who see anyone 40 and above as unbelievably, inconceivably ancient?

I’d be willing to wager that has something to do with it.

A test would be to see what sort of job ads are produced by HR departments that skew much older than average, and compare those to ads produced by departments that skew younger.

I suspect there’d be a difference.

Jun 21


Have you ever seen anyone naked on the internet that you know or knew in real life? That you had no intention to, just in the course of internet events?

I have, once. No, I’m not telling you who. That would be unethical.

But it was a little surprising, especially since I hadn’t really thought of her that way (you know — naked) before.

Turns out she had a very nice bum.

I did what any person who is not a complete jerk would do — I said “huh” and never mentioned it to her and treated her just the same as before. The photos didn’t seem to be stolen/revenge type photos so really nothing else to do.

Jun 20


For the first time in history a woman — Virginia Raggi — will be the mayor of Rome. And here is how NBCnews.com chose to let us know that:


Think a man would’ve gotten that same headline? Yes, part of her reasons for standing for mayor were issues related to how it’s difficult being a mother in a city with decaying infrastructure (sound like anywhere else you know?).

If it were a man though, no matter what had spurred his political awakening the headline would’ve read something more like: “Lawyer Vows to Clean Up Infrastructure Woes in the Eternal City” or something of that nature.

This frames poor city services and a decaying societal framework as the concern of women — and that’s not the first time I’ve seen such equivalence. I guess Real Men just make do. No bridge? Just toss a rope across and brachiate. What are you, weak? Some kind of sissy?

Expect to see more of that sort of rhetoric as the US further declines.

Jun 19

Lawn time gone

Americans spend an absurd amount of time and effort on lawn and yard maintenance.

One guy who lives near us mows his lawn every day, or nearly so. The lawn mower is a constant annoyance.

Do people really have nothing better to do?

Jun 19


Reading history like this and observing my own workplaces, I’ve been completely disabused of the notion that most of the indignities and petty crimes committed against workers have anything at all to do with increasing or maintaining profits.

I think profit concerns are at the bottom of the list in most cases for the managerial class.

Power relations better explain what’s happening in the linked story and in modern office environments.

Open office plans harm productivity and thus profit. How to explain them, then? Power. The managerial MBA class wants to exert power over those they’ve “worked hard” to be better than. They want to feel like a manor lord watching from a high casement while the peasants toil below.

Most companies being against people working from home, even a day or two a week? Power again.

Most of the harms that companies seem determined to inflict on their staff actually harm productivity and profit. But the people who tend to be in charge of such organizations don’t get placed in those positions because they are motivated by money, for the most part. No, they are motivated by wishing to be atop the hierarchy. Therefore ceding any power to those they deem lesser than they are — such as someone having their own office or working from home — invests that power in the worker and denies it to the manager.

I agree that this makes no sense but because all that the managerial types understand are zero sum games, by their logic individual offices and other proven productivity enhancers subtract from their own power.

Where I currently work, I think I could pretty easily increase profits by 10-15% with no net job reduction. But these ideas would definitely reduce the power of management to control worker’s lives and would increase worker satisfaction immensely (while reducing hours somewhat), so it will never happen.

Jun 17


People who say that AI or fusion is impossible because we haven’t managed to do it yet after 50 or 60 years of trying — well, they are very ignorant of history.

A nearly two thousand year span separates the construction of the first primitive steam engines from the first industrial use.

Also the same vast span of time separates geometry and algebra from the concepts of analytic geometry.

There are dozens of examples if one cares to look.

Because something doesn’t happen the moment someone thinks it might be possible means nothing. For AI and fusion, I wouldn’t be surprised if they take one or two thousands years. I don’t expect that, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

That’s how history has moved in the past, after all.

Jun 17

Another way

Another way humans are maladapted to our current civilization is that we have a primal revulsion and disgust reaction to and against the desperate. Any form of desperation — it matters not.

When resources were scarce, this made sense. Nothing to share. No time nor ability to take care of someone who will be a drain while living on the edge of survival (emotional or physical).

But now, that reaction actually harms the entire society since we’re all so tightly enmeshed.

Jun 16


An intern I’ve been mentoring at work told me that I’m a better teacher than any she had at Duke.

Which charges $60,000 per year.

I need to go into a different business.

I have a mentee, but what I actually wanted was a manatee.

Ok, it’s pretty cool to have a mentee really. But a manatee would be cool too.