Monday, April 30, 2007

The Illuminati

Have you heard of the Bilderberg Group? Why not?

Here is a fun article which runs on the long side.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Life and rationality

There is nothing purely rational about sex. We understand why it happens, but at its root it is still somewhat bizarre. So are many things in human life. Perhaps that is why some religions have rejected sex, and emotion, and life on this earth in exchange for life on the next earth. Sex as an overriding drive in human life - as much as we tell ourselves this is natural and right, it does not come naturally to us. Some struggle with how weird life is.

Perhaps the world's existence is like sex - there's no fundamental reason for it except that it is the natural state of the world.

Partially inspired by this article: "The urgent and primary questions of the universe have been undertaken by those physicists who are trying to explain the origins of everything with grand unified theories. But as exciting and glamorous as these theories are, they are an evasion, if not a reversal, of the central mystery of knowledge: that the laws of the world were somehow created to produce the observer. And more important than this, that the observer in a significant sense creates reality and not the other way around. Recognition of this insight leads to a single theory that unifies our understanding of the world."

Monopsony Labor Market

Such a situation can only continue if workers do not shop around for higher wages, or if there is an implicit or explicit collusion on the part of employers. Could that be true today - to a degree? Perhaps yes.

Marginal Income Tax Rates

Why is it so fucking hard to find a table detailing the marginal income tax rates pre-2001?

Socially Responsible Investing

I hear some people say you should be a "socially responsible investor." But does buying a company's stock really have any impact on the performance of that stock? If it does, can you please explain how to me?

If it does not, then why should I invest responsibly? Why not make money off a dirty company and use that money to buy something good, like solar panels?

How is money created?

I don't really understand the big picture of economics. What causes inflation, I've been told, is too much money chasing too few goods&services. That makes sense. However, if a country's economy is growing in real terms (it is producing more goods&services because of higher productivity, let's say), and money isn't being created, deflation would happen. Does an economy create money as it creates goods&services automatically, or must money be siphoned out by the Federal Reserve, who must carefully balance the increase in money with the increase in goods&services produced?

Do stock traders and speculators create money?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Lufia II

"I hear there are monsters in the North Cave."
"Are you going away again?"
"Well, that's my job."
" careful..."
"I'll be alright."
"You always say that. But I always worry."
"I'll get them but you have to buy them, Tia."
"I will."
"Well, see ya."

I had to load my one of my favorite old SNES games today, Lufia II. It's kinda sad. I have learned a fair amount in college but all I really want to do at some deep level is read fantasy and play RPGs.

I had to load up it up. I just felt too nostalgic to resist. We'll see how long I can go before the guilt of avoiding productive activity catches up with me.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Relativism and Economic Justice

A few people have always been obsessed with the tantalizing idea that one can commit wrong actions without being evil. (Or, perhaps, being "evil" but still a rational and morally good person.) They are faced with a question: how can I, a rational person, treat someone else as I would not truly like to be treated? Isn't that the true definition of a bad act - acting in opposition to the Golden Rule? How can I hold myself to a different standard? And how would society work if everyone did that?

Well, we alway have done that and we always will. The world can seem pretty fucked up but it still runs. People enjoy themselves and feel like they are accomplishing things. People live by the following rules: I was born in this country and my parents did well, so I enjoy riches while others scrape by. If we only have enough food for my family or yours, my family gets the food. If my country enters into a war with another country, then they deserve death and we deserve life. Our interests are more important then their interest because what matters is whether we (and the ones we love) are alive. What else could matter? (Well, I suppose we could value the species as a whole, or some feature in the species, perhaps - "the good", "excellence", "arete" - whatever you want to call it. But that's a different discussion.)

But can we consider any of these economic facts to be morally right? If they aren't, is acting as a normal citizen somehow wrong?

To what degree can we hold ourselves to a different standard - that those of us with more economic accomplishment or "merit" are worth more?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Five Keys to Forex Trading

This free report from Investopedia is a very accessible introduction to making money on Forex. The five basics:

1. Interest rates (when they're high, the currency will strengthen).
2. Economic growth (when the economy is growing, people are buying more of its currency).
3. Geopolitics.
4. Trade and Capital Flows
5. Merger and Acquisition Activity.

Good stuff.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Determinism&Moral Responsibility

If the world is completely deterministic, then what does moral responsibility amount to?

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Science of Dreams

I just watched this movie. Caellyndria (who I've linked jokingly as My Stalker - sorry!) watched it too. I commented on her review if you want to read it. She didn't like it. I did, in a weird way. I'm not a goofy, artistic, psuedoscientific person. I don't do arts and crafts as a hobby but I appreciated the authenticity of Stephane's creepy obsession with Stephanie. The movie reminded me of the insanity of my dreams and my own creepy obsession with a couple girls. I'm saddened by the fact that I no longer remember to write them down. Here's one of the nightmares that I had a few months back:

3/20/06: After a long day/night of dreams, all I can remember is leaving this decrepit tenement building...weird people leered at us and approached. When I entered the building I had my Smith&Wesson switchblade on me in my pocket and kept feeling atit warily. With me was Eric F and this little blond girl (a child, really) named Jessi. I turned around for a second and then Eric and the girl walked into some random person's house. They were sitting down to eat Ruffles. I commented that there wasn't a lot of food and the resident little
blond girl, who looked a lot like Jessi, said there a lot. Then her father, a strangely intense, heavyset man with greying hair showed up. He asked us what we were doing. When we said we were visiting he smiled hungrily at us. I got real, real uneasy. Eric glanced up a picture on the wall and said, "Uh, your mom's tumor looks like the mole on George Bush's neck..." (not that I remembered if he has one - I don't think he does). He moved to stand up and the father moved in a way that seemed to me to suggest he was gonna stop us. I grabbed my switchblade, but it didn't come fully out, and it collapsed when I stabbed itdidn't stab right because of it. Then we booked it out the door only to realize we'd left Jessi behind. When I woke up, I was deciding to head back for Jessi and Eric just wanted to

EDIT: Recalling back, I remember debating with someone about what
'continuum' meant, and I was holding my pipe Pandora as I spoke..."

CIA World Factbook

Why isn't the data presented in time-series? Why isn't it downloadable as Excel files? Why are government bureaucracies so incompetent?

So I'm doing a project and I need the crude birth rate and the total fertility rate trend for the past thirty years, as well as the average wage of females. (You can guess what the topic is.) As far as I can tell I'll have to access independent archives of each year and piece the thing together myself.

There's something rather fishy about the sheer incompetence of that design. Has no one in the CIA noticed this? Why oh why is it still so hard to get basic information?

By the way -- yes, I've looked through the data on the U.S.Census website and been very disappointed.

UPDATE: This gives me an idea on what to do with my website. Put up reams and reams of statistical data, well-organized.


JASO has shot up 13% for the third day in a row. I bought $1000 around 17, sold it at $20, then bought $5000 worth at 23.15. Now it's at 28.

So I've made a cool 1130 bucks in the past few days. Put the original $1000 (now $1130) from JASO into another stock, which didn't look like it was going anywhere, so I took it out and put it into SOLF at 15.79. It was up 22% at the time and will likely have another breakout today tomorrow.

Now is the time to be invested in solar, although you have to be careful not to invest in pure momentum when it's at the top.

UPDATE: At the end of the day SOLF is 17.68 and JASO is 28.20. I know that SOLF is going up tomorrow, not sure about JASO.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Loyalty Rebates

A pretty good overview of the loyalty rebates (used by Microsoft as well) is in this article, in this case referring to the loyalty rebates that Intel uses.
Here's how Intel allegedly dashes AMD's hopes for gradual growth. It tells XYZ that its price per processor is, say, $90, but that if XYZ ends up buying more than 80% of its processors from Intel that quarter, it will pay a rebate of $10 per processor, resulting in an $80 price.

The rebate, however, applies not just to the processors that put XYZ over the 80% target, but to every Intel processor XYZ purchases that quarter, back to the first one. That offer knocks AMD out of the box. Outside counsel Diamond explains why: "Effectively, what Intel's saying is, If you don't buy those ten incremental units from AMD, we'll give you them for free."

That's because 80 processors at $90 each cost the same as 90 processors at $80 each. "So in order to capture that business," Diamond continues, "AMD has to give away product for free. It's pretty axiomatic that you can't stay in any business if you're giving away your product free to pick up market share."

Intel's Sewell has a simple response: His company doesn't offer first-dollar rebates. "We offer a discount program," he asserts, "which is stepped at basically 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%. So if you buy below 20%, you get no discount. If you buy 20% to 40%, you get a discount, but it applies only to the units between 20% to 40%. By the time you get up to 80% or 100%, you're getting the highest discount. If you're at the highest discount rate, and you were to normalize that across all units, you get a better price across the board if you buy more parts from us, but you don't have this dramatic incentive, where you get nothing below 90%, and everything above 90%. In our view, this is a very traditional discount that scales with volume."

AMD's Diamond replies: "If, in fact, Intel's corporate policy is to use only reasonable, stepped discounts and no first-dollar rebates, that's a pretty recent innovation, and I guess we've earned part of our legal fees already. That has not been historically correct."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Every man makes an exception out of himself when it comes to moral behavior. The degree to which they are aware of this exception decides what their outward morality is.

Since "everyone else" does this, individual people can feel less guilty about it.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Winston Churchill

I've been reading The Last Lion and I am just blown away by Winston Churchill. The man was a genius, and one of the few geniuses to enter political life. He struggled in school because he was so goddamned rebellious, despite being, throughout school, the best writer in his class. He had no patience for math. He loved the truth, and straddled both sides of the political spectrum to pursue what he saw as important. Yet because he loved truth and was not a liberal or a conservative, he was reviled by both parties. They would vilify him for any reason. I find some interesting parallels to that in my own life - lots of people don't like me because I am neither conservative nor liberal. They are afraid of what I have to say.

Some interesting examples:

In the beginning of his career as a politican, Churchill was a Tory. Yet he consistently came out against the party line: he was against the Boer War (reminds one of a modern parallel, perhaps?), and against protectionism. To sum up: he was against imperialism, which was fundamental to the Tory platform. So he switched parties and became a Liberal for a long, long time.

When Germany was about to invade France at the start of World War I, most of the Liberals wanted to stay out of the war. Churchill had to fight to roust them up, although when Germany went through Belgium they all caved. This same exact thing happened in World War II, which could have been avoided had the English and the French seen it coming and nipped it in the bud. Churchill warned of the impending disaster before its time.

There are countless other examples, but I have things to do. It's easy to see parallels today: the minimum wage is not the best way to reduce poverty, and gay marriage should be allowed. Corporate welfare is a big problem, and CEO pay is perhaps an even bigger problem.

Look at recent Supreme Court cases. In Gonzales v. Raich it was the liberals who voted to continue the immoral oppression of marijuana users. In Kelo v. New London it was the liberals, again, who decided that cities may condemn private land in order to give it to corporations. These acts are entirely unforgivable.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Busy as a (Lazy) Bumblebee

I'm sorry if I've been rather lax. My mind is scattered and my will is weak, as usual. I've been too lazy to make myself food even though I'm often kinda hungry. Also, I haven't been smoking weed much. My inspiration to post most often comes when I'm a high.

In other news, I did some looking into the heads of the EPA yesterday. I remarked to a friend (actually, the writer of Simplemind) that GM technology is not being regulated very well. He said that it was regulated by the EPA, the FDA, and the USDA. I noted that not only are these organizations overstretched (the number of FDA drug and biologic inspections reach a five-year low); they are also highly politicized and biased in and of themselves. The Administrator of the EPA is appointed by George Bush. The former EPA administrator was a Mormon, the current one, Stephen L. Johnson, used to work as a senior office in two different biotech companies, Covance and Litton Bionetics (a company which, interestingly, is featured in AIDS conspiracy theories as the creator of AIDS). Up until recently he advocated testing pesticides on infants and children up to 3 years old. These are strange people, with strange ethics. The one before Leavitt, Christine Todd Whitman, told the workers at the WTC that the dust was completely harmless despite having no evidence to back it up. Some people simply do not feel a pang of guilt when they lie.

This lead to a man named Arpad Pusztai who informed Europe of the potential dangers of genetic engineering. Looking at an article by him, he notes that:

# Publications on GM food toxicity are scarce. An article in Science magazine said it all: "Health Risks of Genetically Modified Foods: Many Opinions but Few Data".1 In fact, no peer-reviewed publications of clinical studies on the human health effects of GM food exist. Even animal studies are few and far between.

This is more than likely the reality. Of course, I cited an article finding that GM peas harm mice lungs - perhaps that came after it. Regardless, that shows that there is significant potential for harm. But the worst harms aren't the ones that are stark and obvious. The worst toxins are ones whose effects accumulate slowly and cause chronic, low-level problems.

Update: more on Pusztai. It's even creepy. See here:

The 69 year old Hungary-born Pusztai, who had been working at the RRI for 36 years, was removed from service, his research papers were seized, and his data confiscated ~ and he was prohibited from talking to anyone about his research work. All this for having spoken "all of l5O seconds," he says in a programme called World in Action on Granada TV in August 1998, about his findings on the effects of GM foods that ran counter to the prevalent scientific dogma that they were safe. He had also expressed concern that the testing procedures to establish the safety of GM foods may not be adequate.

And here. This last one really requires a full read. His work was suppressed by the English, but the scientists internationally said it was fine, and The Lancet published it.

A scientific committe was asked by the Rowett institute to review the study Pustai referred to. It said there were important deficiencies in the study.

Independent scientists confirmed the correctness of Pusztais conclusions

Pusztai then sent the research protocols to 24 independent scientists in different countries. These turned down the conclusions of the review committee and found that his research was of good quality and justified his conclusions. They found that Pusztai had not mixed up any results.

Scientists and physicians (including the undersigned), who had been in touch with Pusztai confirmed that he was perfectly clear-minded with no signs of confusion or memory defects.

What had Pusztai found? He found that potatoes with a certain type of lectin (useful as a pesticide, I gather - lectins are a particularly interesting protein capable of affecting carbohydrates) slowly caused long-term damage. But we don't test for long-term damage.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Nonsense multiplies

With the internet, intelligence is truly revealed. Lately I've heard some outstanding and stupid claims. When I was driving and listening to the radio I heard someone rant and rave about the amount of blocked up fecal matter in the intestines. They repeated all the same old myths: that John Wayne had 44 pounds of fecal matter in his intestines when he died and the FDA claims that each person has an average of 3-4 pounds of fecal matter.

John Wayne had no such thing
and the FDA has said no such thing. Snopes is sometimes wrong (as I mentioned before) but they are not wrong in this case. How can anyone possibly believe this stuff?

The latest myth was brought to me by my roommates, and it concerns the WTO. The WTO is a very bad organization in that they don't allow countries to restrict products based on environmental and health risks, but in this case my roommates was way off. He was taken in by the claims of HealthFreedomUSA, which claims that there is a document callled Codex Alimentarius which classifies nutrients as toxins. This is an obvious exaggeration. I don't think this Codex Alimentarius is a good idea, and I don't think it will serve the interests of health for people, but it does at least on the surface claim to protect consumers from pesticides, contaminants, and adulterants. It says little that I can find about nutrients being toxins.

Sadly, people like these give health-conscious environmentalists (who DO recognize the danger of the WTO and Monsanto) a bad name.

Sometime I will start a weekly profile of a WTO ruling and show how ridiculous it is.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Books to Goodwill

It's that time again. Time to toss books because my tiny room is a godawful mess.

    Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett: "One of the true masterpieces of the century", according to Clive Barnes. I didn't get it.

    The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway: I have always considered Hemingway overrated.

    Excellence: A collection of quotes.

    The Millionaire Next Door: Interesting.

    Free To Choose by Milton Friedman: Written for the masses with hardly any sources cited, but edifying nonetheless.

    Our Town by Thornton Wilder: A great little screenplay who's author rightly won a Pulitzer Prize.

This is so difficult. I'm wringing my hands over The Last Lion (about Winston Churchill) and Staying Healthy With Nutrition. Meanwhile, I should be doing homework.

Chiropractic Experience

Today my back absolutely killed me. I could not bend it without stabbing pain, so I finally bit the bullet and made an appointment with a chiropractor. I just got back and my back feels much better. All he did was shock it to relax it, and then popped it with a simple technique. I'm still skeptical of many of their claims, but they can certainly reduce lower back pain.

I interviewed the chiropractor as he worked on my back. He seemed a little uncomfortable with discussing the skepticism surrounding his work, but he was polite nonetheless. He didn't say much besides that he was less of a purist and focused mainly on back pain.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Spring Break Trip

Just got back from driving a few hundred miles to see some friends and I'm exhausted. During the trip I bought $1000 worth of JA Solar Holdings. Most of the trip was spent talking and drinking alcohol. One thing I learned: don't discuss God with Christians.