21 March 2014

All of the money stuff I sometimes talk about, condensed

A lot of my personal friends and family have heard me mention something regarding saving money and investing, probably remember hearing me referencing "Mr Money Mustache" or "Jacob of Early Retirement Extreme".
Chances are, though, you chalk it up to one of those random Bakari nutty things, or maybe you even glance briefly at one of the links I send you, but it's long and there's like 300 other articles, and you don't have time for all that.
I'm going to try to explain all that stuff in a condensed and untechnical manner.
Of course, the majority of my readers who I don't know in real life found me through MMM, and all of y'all feel free to skip this post, as you won't learn anything new - it might be perfect for forwarding on to your own friends and family though who haven't come around yet.

Very early on into adulthood I discovered that I don't particularly care for employment.
Its not just about the work itself - it doesn't matter how much fun, how creative or rewarding or self-directed the job is - its just the fact of being forced to be some specific place doing some specific thing for almost exactly 1/2 of your discretionary time (factoring in mandatory lunch hours and commute time), for the majority of your life.
Luckily, I grew up poor (there were 73 of us, living in a cardboard box), plus I self-identified as an environmentalist since about age 9, plus being non-conformist, all combined to make rejection of all forms of materialism come naturally.
I never felt much need for "stuff".  Living in my RV felt plenty luxurious enough.

Psychologists say that money spent on experiences produces more happiness than money spent on stuff - but I've found there is a practically infinite supply of entertaining and educational and downright amazing and wonderful experiences to be found for free almost everywhere I look.  No, not even that - I frequently don't even have to look; often times they come to me!  Sometimes when I was looking for something else, other times they just literally come seek me out.
I've never even had the desire for the stuff most American's spend money on: cable TV, a new car, fashionable clothes, or a "phone" that is really a tiny computer.  So, after food and rent, I never had all that much to spend money on.

And here is the point of all that backstory:
I discovered early on that if I don't spend a lot of money, then I don't need a lot of money, and if I don't need a lot of money, I don't have to spend so much time working.

11 March 2014


Today was an absolutely beautiful warm and sunny, (but not hot), day.

I got off of work at noon, biked to Coast Guard Island to drop off a couple uniforms to get new patches sewn on to reflect my status as a certified search and rescue boat crew member and the promotion I should be getting some time soon.

This past weekend I caught up on all the little tasks I had to do around the apartment building (where I am superintendent in exchange for almost free rent), so I had most of a day free.

I had $1500 sitting in my safe in cash, failing to earn any interest, so I decided to make the most of the weather and deposit the cash as an excuse for a nice long skate.  See, I live in Oakland, and my Credit Union is in Richmond (about 14 miles away)

While I was at it, I used the opportunity to finally test out the replacement 18650 LiIon cells for the battery pack I made for my boombox (2 five-cell packs in parallel, attached directly to the outside of the stereo, plugged into the regular 120v port so it keeps the ipod charged at the same time)

By the time I got to Lake Merrit I started getting terrible shin splints.  This happened last time I was skating, but I thought (rationalized?) it was because of a detour over an unpaved road.  Guess I just get weak really fast in any muscle group I'm not using more or less constantly, and running, hiking, jump rope, just don't hit the tibialis anterior the way skating does.  I'm hoping the pain will fade into the background, like every time I run long distance, but it doesn't get any better, and I bail at MacArthur BART.

In the mean time though - man, you know, I always get the occasional stares, smiles, points, laughs, thumbs-up, and honks when I'm skating (often shirtless, often singing) with headphones on.  Typically at least one of those on any one long trip, sometimes a couple.
But when its a boombox, and not just headphones, and every one else can hear what I'm rockin, well, then the stares, smiles, points, laughs, thumbs-up, and honks are more like one every couple of blocks!
Plus, people start spontaneously dancing along as I pass.  I tried to move over to let a car pass, until I realized they weren't going slow trying to get around me, they were going slow because the passenger was taking a picture!


10 March 2014

pre-history matriarchies


[The claim is frequently made that matriarchies were] "... a worldwide phenomenon that stretched back through prehistory to the very origins of the human race. These "matriarchies"... were not crude reversals of patriarchal power, but models of peace, plenty, harmony with nature, and, significantly, sex egalitarianism."

"Except for one small problem... Poking holes in the "evidence" for this myth was, to rely on cliché, like shooting fish in a barrel. After a long day of research in the library, I could go out with friends and entertain them with the latest argument I'd read for matriarchal prehistory, made up entirely—I pointed out—of a highly ideological reading of a couple of prehistoric artifacts accompanied by some dubious anthropology, perhaps a little astrology, and a fatuous premise ... or two or three."

"My irritation with the historical claims made by the myth's partisans masks a deeper discontent with the myth's assumptions. There is a theory of sex and gender embedded in the myth of matriarchal prehistory, and it is neither original nor revolutionary. Women are defined quite narrowly as those who give birth and nurture, who identify themselves in terms of their relationships, and who are closely allied with the body, nature, and sex—usually for unavoidable reasons of their biological makeup. This image of women is drastically revalued in feminist matriarchal myth, such that it is not a mark of shame or subordination, but of pride and power. But this image is nevertheless quite conventional..."

"Whatever positive effects this myth has on individual women, they must be balanced against the historical and archaeological evidence the myth ignores or misinterprets and the sexist assumptions it leaves Undisturbed. The myth of matriarchal prehistory postures as "documented fact," as "to date the most scientifically plausible account of the available information." These claims can be—and will be here—shown to be false. Relying on matriarchal myth in the face of the evidence that challenges its veracity leaves feminists open to charges of vacuousness and irrelevance that we cannot afford to court. And the gendered stereotypes upon which matriarchal myth rests persistently work to flatten out differences among women; to exaggerate differences between women and men; and to hand women an identity that is symbolic, timeless, and archetypal, instead of giving them the freedom to craft identities that suit their individual temperaments, skills, preferences, and moral and political commitments."

" The enemies of feminism have long posed issues of patriarchy and sexism in pseudoscientific and historical terms. It is not in feminist interests to join them at this game, especially when it is so (relatively) easy to undermine the ground rules...Discovering—or more to the point, inventing—prehistoric ages in which women and men lived in harmony and equality is a burden that feminists need not, and should not bear. Clinging to shopworn notions of gender and promoting a demonstrably fictional past can only hurt us over the long run as we work to create a future that helps all women, children, and men flourish."

-Cynthia Eller


09 March 2014

Something is wrong here

Is it just me, or is this circular reasoning?

-Corporations should be allowed to outsource jobs so that they can stay competitive.

-It is important that American corporations stay competitive in order to support the economy.

-It is important to support the economy because it provides American jobs.

08 March 2014

Privilege - its not the problem

Response to:

I absolutely love its general premise, and could not agree more - though perhaps for slightly different reasons.
I have long questioned the entire idea of "privilege", and especially the focus on it.  If you are lucky enough to be middle class, its fairly easy to see inequality in terms of having some privileges or not.  One of those privileges is being able to (pretend that you) live in an insular world where an individual being culturally insensitive to another individual is one of the worst aspects of racism.
As a African American, who has lived most (but not all) of his life in poor, high crime, high minority urban areas, the entire sub-culture of race activists has always looked very shallow and meaningless to me.  It has always seemed much more about being able to say "I, in contrast to all those other (white) people, am enlightened."

What, exactly, does white people or men or straight people or whoever, acknowledging their privilege actually accomplish?
Lets say every single European American was fully aware, fully acknowledged, and fully internalized that they have privilege relative to other people.
Would that somehow instantly, magically, cause wealth and income inequality to disappear, so that whites were proportionately represented among the extremely poor (and I'm not talking "can't make car payments" or "home foreclosure" poor - I'm talking "can't afford a halfway decent bicycle" or "choose between rent and food" poor) - or better yet, make it so that everyone who has the ability and desire to work could live (what we currently consider) a middle class lifestyle?
Would it end the dramatically different levels of violent crime victimization?  For all the talk about police brutality, young black men are murdered by young black men somewhere on the order of 100 to 1000 times more often than they are shot by cops.  If enough white people acknowledged their privilege, would that stop?

07 March 2014

Quote on Consumerism from the founder of Early Retirement Extreme

"The problem is that most of us have become utterly dependent on this industrial-technological  system  for  all  of  our  needs  and  wants.  Shopping is as important as oxygen to us. Close down the malls for a few days and people go crazy. We no longer think of ourselves as citizens but as ”consumers”, a descriptive term that I've always found kind of derogatory. This dependence  is  so  fundamental  that  it  goes unseen, much like fish don't see the water they swim in. Consequentially, the only solution we can think of whenever we struggle with unfulfilled needs or wants is to ”earn more” and start a side-business, negotiate a raise, and gamble on some more education – it's an investment in your future (ha!). The only perceived way to a better so-called standard-of-living is to work harder and smarter and earn more. However, what this often results in is more environmental damage or at best reshufling money from suckers to scammers." - Jacob Lund Fisker

06 March 2014

Porn on Seasame Street

[this happened 3 years ago, and I wrote the post below back then.  But for reasons I don't remember, I saved it as a draft, where it has been ever since, until I happened to go through my drafts folder today]

Sesame Street's Youtube was hacked, and porn was uploaded.

It seems as though everyone's reaction to what happened is either: "ha ha, too bad I missed it" or "that was the worst possible thing imaginable, the hacker is sick and should be tortured".

I feel like the one kid who sees that the emperor's new clothes don't exist.

Hey, guess what?  People have sex!
Seeing sex does NOT scar or disturb or warp children!!!
You know what does give children a lifelong neurosis around sexuality?  Sheltering and hiding them from it, which teaches them that it is bad and shameful.
No child would think that was a big deal if all the adults around them didn't make such a big production out of it.
Sexuality is not bad for children.  If it weren't for sexuality, there wouldn't even BE any children!

It has been shown conclusively and consistently that there is a directly inverse relationship between sex education and teen pregnency and STDs
Knowledge, truth, and education = GOOD
Sheltering and hiding a significant part of life = BAD

Parents are such hypocrites:  the very fact that they are parents proves that they have done the very thing they pretend to be so shocked about themselves; at least once.

If you aren't mature enough to talk to your kids honestly about sex, then maybe you weren't mature enough to have kids in the first place.  For that matter, maybe you aren't mature enough to have sex yourself.
If parent's were straight forward about sex with their kids, seeing it on screen would be a non-issue. 

You know what does give children a lifelong neurosis around sexuality?  Sheltering and hiding them from it, which teaches them that it is bad and shameful, (regardless of what you say explicitly).
This is exactly why America is so screwed up when it comes to all things sexual.  Not that kids sometimes see people having sex.  The fact that so many of you react as though there were anything wrong with that.
Hey, guess what?  People have sex!  We are animals.  All animals have sex.  That's how we produce new people.  No child would think that was a big deal if all the adults around them didn't make such a big production out of it. 

If you want to tell your kids that its only for grown-ups who love each other, that's fine, but there is no reason for them not to see "hardcore" - that's actually how it works!  Its not like the hacked video was full of BDSM or fetishes.  It was just people having sex.  Get over it.

05 March 2014

Why OWS and the 99% is THE fundamental issue, which lies behind all others:

[This is another of those things I wrote years ago, and has been lost in draft form.  I think I originally planned to add more list items, and elaborate further on all of them, but of course I don't remember what exactly I had in mind]

-War: Some of the largest corporations, (Boeing, Lockheed Martin), profit enormously from war

-Civil Rights: Corporations are not citizens, and therefor should have no civil rights - they are granted right anyway.  They violate the rights of individuals without consequence.  Income and wealth inequality are the single largest factor for the different life experiences of American whites and blacks, and wealth inequality is a direct result of our economic policies.

-Gay rights, abortion, etc etc: Directly mutual relationship between corporate political power and the religious right, as they are both "conservative".  The only reason the religious right is taken seriously is because they support the politicians who are funded by corporate money.

-Environment: EPA doesn't work on shutting down your backyard BBQ.  It is corporations which cause massive pollution.  Corporations decide which power sources to tap into and what type of cars are manufactured.  It was corporations which deliberately destroyed public transit across America.

WTO / NAFTA / etc: this should go without saying

04 March 2014

Quote from unknown poster on homophobia and its relation to sexual assult

"Oh and while being a straight man myself I've never understood the apparent belief that many straight men have that they are apparently irresistible to homosexuals and that given half a chance all gays would pounce on them and have their wicked way - I often suspect that this reflects their own attitudes towards women. I'm not sure that I find that a pleasant idea but it would go some way towards explaining the truly awful male on female sexual abuse statistics that US Forces seem to suffer from."

Quote from unknown poster on a military forum titled "The Gays won, There goes the military"

03 March 2014

Invasive specie continues to cause massive ecological damage after nearly 500 years

By far the most destructive invasive species to North America has been the Western European Homo Sapiens.
Introduced between 1500 and 1600 by Spanish, German, and English settlers, this large hominid almost entirely eradicated the native breed of their own specie throughout the continent, and then went on to do absolutely massive destruction to nearly every aspect of the landscape with their natural instinct to modify their surroundings, ultimately affecting literally every ecological niche extending not only across the land but even well into the oceans on both coasts.

In order to restore the damage done by their introduction, a two part strategy may be most effective: a massive catch, spay/neuter and release program coupled with relaxed or even eliminated hunting restrictions.  This may take lots of time, but would surely be more cost effective and humane in the long run, compared with any attempt to directly euthanize the entire population.

02 March 2014

Freedom VS democracy

[I wrote this some years ago, I don't remember exactly when. It was lost in the drafts folder.]

Some people condemn all government as authoritarian.  They take the government we have today as an example of "democracy" and condemn democracy as just another form of government control over people's lives.  But the word "government" doesn't mean "authoritarian control".  Democracy is a form of government.  And democracy isn't about legislatures interfering into private peoples lives.  Democracy is about private people acting as legislatures. 

The United States of America has corrupted the word democracy.
The USA is not, and never has been, a democracy.  It was never intended to be.