Published July 23, 2013
Culture , Economics
As of 7/3, I live just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Cool foggy mornings, mostly warm bright afternoons. Beautiful vistas every which way you look – mountains, hills, valleys, ocean, beaches, bay, sailboats, city. Lemon trees and wild (well, suburban-wild) deer next door, avocado and fig and plum trees in the backyard, cypress and redwood and eucalyptus and sycamore trees in the neighborhood. Huge farmers’ market Sunday and Thursday in San Raphael, about 10 minutes away.
Staying with a generous friend until we move into an apartment at the end of the month. Downsizing quite a bit, happily. Working east coast hours, which I like. Walking more and driving less. Been here three weeks and still haven’t had to refill my gas tank.
Leaned on the kindness of friends quite a lot in the moving process, and we are very, very grateful.
Will post some pictures soon. So much to explore!
Published February 17, 2012
Cooking , Economics , Food , Health , Optimism
IndieGoGo is a website that helps individuals or startups raise money to accomplish a goal. Some of the projects are altruistic, others artsy, and so forth.
My wife, who started learning about the US food system a decade ago to address health issues, is aiming to raise enough money to rebuild MyFreshLocal.com as a faster and more powerful tool for helping people find healthy local food sources.
Take five minutes to watch her video!
And if you find the cause compelling, by all means pitch in, blog about it, tweet it, etc.
Published February 2, 2012
Economics , Food , Science!
Hydroponics is raising plants in water rather than soil.
Aquaponics takes that concept a step further. Raise fish or other aquatic organisms in the water and you can make a largely self-sustaining system. Fish waste adds nutrients to the water, feeding the plants.
And at the end of the day you can have tilapia with mixed greens.
(Link goes to an interesting writeup on myfreshlocal.com with an aquaponics system diagram and some ideas of how aquaponics can help grow fresh food in urban settings.)
Published September 25, 2011
Academia , Books , Brain , Economics , Google , Science!
Google seems like a revolutionary company in some respects. Google Labs is just being shuttered, but it’s been chock full of experimental tools and toys for years, all free. Very cool. Employees are encouraged (required?) to set ridiculous quarterly performance goals for themselves – point being that if you think small and incremental, that’s all you get. They want creativity and order-of-magnitude advances.
Know what was cool like that once upon a time? Bell Telephone Labs.
AT&T at midcentury did not demand instant gratification from its research division. It allowed detours into mathematics or astrophysics with no apparent commercial purpose. Anyway so much of modern science bore directly or indirectly on the company’s mission, which was vast, monopolistic, and almost all-encompassing.
That’s a snippet from The Information, which I’m just beginning to read, and with glee.
The transistor  sparked a revolution in electronics, setting the technology on its path of miniaturization and ubiquity, and soon won the Nobel Prize for its three chief inventors. For the laboratory it was the jewel in the crown.
But it was only the second most significant development of that year….
Published July 3, 2011
For years Mark has been driving by an expensive private beach club that has a dock going out into the ocean, and a diving board off the dock. Mark’s got three kids; a swanky membership isn’t in the budget. But every year he looks at the dock and says, we gotta get in there. That looks so fun.
So one summer morning the family is returning from somewhere and they have their bathing suits and Mark says, let’s stop at the club and ask if we can get a day pass or something. The front desk says there’s no day pass but kinda looks the other way and lets them in to see the place. Mark’s wife assumes that at some point they’ll get kicked out – especially because Mark in a swimming pool becomes, by his description and hers, basically a very tall seven-year-old. So Mark goes out on the dock and does cannonballs and so forth. There’s one kid out there who’s afraid to jump off the dock, and Mark starts psyching him up, and eventually the kid goes in and everybody on the dock erupts in cheering.
But now he’s REALLY drawn attention to himself. Sure enough, an official-looking woman walks up and says excuse me, but are you a member? Mark says no, we just asked to come in for a look-see. His wife watches this exchange and is ready to start packing up. But then the woman says, “Well I’m the manager and you and your family are welcome any time – just use my name at the desk – because you’re the kind of people we want to have here.”
I thought that was pretty cool all the way around.
Published April 14, 2011
Economics , Food
Buy up all the commercial real estate in your area, and then resell it to 5 Guys Burgers and Fries.
It’s never been simpler!
An economist is someone who wanted to be an accountant but didn’t have the personality.
Fairly or not, statistics shares this reputation. Intermittantly, haltingly, I have been reading Statistics for Dummies. And unfortunately it is indeed kinda boring.
But if you take statistics and throw in a dash of discord, an argument, a few accusations of bias, it becomes quite fascinating!
(As almost any science does, you might recall.)
Published May 8, 2010
Academia , Economics , Money
The Goldman Sachs case brings to mind again Max Weber’s Unofficial Corollary. To recap: Weber posited that capitalism took off in American because of the preconditions created by Calvinism: hard word and ethical behavior.
Now we’ve got a nice hard look at capitalism with no moral underpinning, where Making Money is the be-all and end-all.
Whether a crime was committed is not the point. Likewise the religious underpinnings are not the argument here. The point is that a corollary to the Weber Thesis is that when Making Money is the sole basis for judging right and wrong, the outcomes long-term seem to suffer. The Iterative Prisoner’s Dilemma says better long-term outcomes result when everybody plays cooperatively.
Andy Bebut is way over my head – but don’t they tell us that reading difficult books with our children will help their brains grow? So read this post on the Wall Street Examiner. Essential point: The banking system isn’t the core of the economy. People make and do stuff are the core. The banking system is a peripheral enabler – and should be compensated as such.