2005 06 06
Oh man! I discovered the single most important website ever: NATURE'S HARMONIC SIMULTANEOUS 4-DAY TIME CUBE!!! This site definitively debunks both the special theory of relativity and Greenwich villiage time. Before I read this site, I was a staunch believer in both. I'm totally serious. This site may look crazy, but it's really not. It really changed my thinking about most things.
Now, as to the matter of alcoholism, I just discovered that Doug Thorburn's books are endorsed by Michael Shermer, the ultraskeptic! His endorsement on the back of Alcoholism Myths and Realities says, among other things, that "Now is the time to abandon superstition and pseudoscience, to debunk the myths surrounding alcoholism, and to apply science to solving this problem. Doug Thorburn's book is a model example of how to do this should be done.".
I looked up a little bit on this Michael Shermer fellow and found this interesting article by him about the Ayn Rand cult. I also discovered that he is, in fact, a Libertarian.
Well that's nice because that's 3 things that Michael Shermer and I independantly agree on (Doug Thorburn, Ayn Rand, and Libertarianism). This is surprising because Michael Shermer is sane while I am loony. I'll see if I can find out what he thinks of the Time Cube, but I'll wager he agrees with me on that too!
2005 06 10
Oh my god. The entire fate of the universe rests on you reading this comic RIGHT NOW!!!
Also, there probably won't be comics next week because I will be taking a trip to Austin to look at condominiums. But there will be the following week!
I just finished reading a really excellent book. It's called Freakanomics, by Steven D. Levitt (economist and winner of the Bates Medal) and Stephen J. Dubner (journalist). The book applies the general stastical methods of economics to unusual economic problems. Here are some of the things they talk about in the book:
♦ Money does not win elections even though the candidate who spends the most money wins; the real reason these are correlated is that the candidate who is more appealing is able to raise (and therefore spend) more money.One particularly nice things about the book is that it explicitly states in the preface that understanding the nature of incentives is the key to explaining why groups of people behave certain ways in certain situations. A more careful statement on what one can conclude from the nature of incentives is, 'All things being equal, an increase in the incentive toward one sort of behavior causes an increase in the number of people engaging in that behavior.' Sometimes the issue can become confused; for example, in Freakanomics the authors consider a study in which a day-care center began fining parents who picked up their children late, and found that the number of late parents actually increased. However, this is explained by the fact that being fined aleviates the guilt of being late; the fine that the day-care center chose was not as bad as the guilt people felt when they were late and not fined. Incentives are the key to understanding one of the reasons socialism fails, so it's always nice when people teach others to look at incentives.
All in all, the book was tremendously amusing and I read the whole thing in one sitting in only about 4 hours. It's full of humorous facts and anecdotes. I enjoyed it beyond human comprehension! Also, the cover has an amusing image. One of the Amazon.com reviewers says that it's not as good as books by Hayek, but that's silly because Hayek is one of the best writers in history so it's an unrealistic standard.
AND NOW TO DISCUSS A MATTER OF
This is so important that I'm pooping my pants right now just thinking about it! A lot of politics is about saying the same thing over and over again until it magically becomes true. Here's a good example of this. A friend of mine showed me an essay referring to a leaked memo from 2002 that supposedly proves W. Bush manufactured evidence to go to war. However, if you read the actual document (which is 3 pages, so it's really hard), all it actually says is that Bush had already made his mind up by 2002 that he wanted to go to war. It doesn't actually quote Bush at all, or give any evidence of wrongdoing. The only sentence relevant to the charges on Bush is "But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Since there's nothing else to say how anything was fixed or what exactly was fixed, that obviously does not constitute any real evidence. It's a completely unsubstantiated claim. It's even ambiguous as to whether this was deliberate or simply a systematic error. This friend of mine was shocked to see that because the interpretation of it is so rediculously overblown. Incedentally, given that Bush may be having an alcoholism relapse, it's entirely possible that he would lie to go to war, but by gut feeling is that this will lead nowhere.
Now, when I used to be a liberal, I did not want to think very hard about politics because I found it confusing, and consequently, I simply accepted the various liberal interpretations of whatever the news was without taking much of an interest in it. Professional politicians (of all parties) rely on people to act this way so that their trick of repeating lies over and over actually works. Therefore, don't do that.
2005 06 17
Aaaargh! I've been ultrabusy all week handling all the condo-buying stuff! It's awful! I spend all day on the phone, first with my real estate agent, then my lawyer, then the lending agent, and so on and so forth.
Earlier this week I was able to get a loan with one bank, and they offered me an interest rate of 5.83%, and that seemed like a pretty good deal, but then I found another bank, (through lowermybills.com) who offered me an interest rate of 5.375%, but then to get the loan I had to change the closing date on the contract, which had already been signed, and now I have to pay $350 to the original loan company to cancel the loan (but it's worth it), so that was a bit of a hastle, but I DO have the loan now. Next I have to find all sorts of incriminating tax statements, bank statements, pay stubs, etc, so that they can scrutinize my assets.
Amazingly enough, by the end of the week, interest rates had already gone up! So I happened to get a loan at a really good time. Next I have to start calling property inspectors, finding a roommates, getting buyer's remorse, etc. So what all this adds up to is that I didn't get to the damn comic this week! However, I did learn that investing and financial planning are lots of fun.