There’s a kerfuffle on Twitter this week because some chat-based counseling service hooked itself up to the latest AI chatbot. People needing help posted their issue, and the chatbot suggested a response to a counselor who decided whether to use it. This is what I assume also happens these days when I talk to a human for tech support.
Love is when a player cares that another player gains points in the game.
What lifestyle package could be sold for a family living near the poverty level?
The Internet is the most destructive force of our time. That’s because inventions that create the most…also destroy the most, according to Schumpeter’s theory of Creative Destruction. To see what is being destroyed, look toward what the Internet provides. It delivers information. For communication, entertainment, learning, or anything else. Any institution in our society that provides information is at risk of being edged out.
Sometimes practicality demands answers to ugly questions from academia. Regulators make decisions about risk based on a dollar value of death. Military planners contemplate apocalyptic destruction as a strategy to keep peace. When we shirk answering these ugly but necessary questions, people suffer.
Restoration of consciously European Christian tradition in America is fundamentally self contradictory.
Church is a community of people practicing Christianity together.1 In community, there exists an idea of thick vs thin. A thicker community is one that is more connected; its members interact more frequently and share more important ties in their lives. One can imagine a church community as a ball or a planet, ranging from the “thickest” most involved members at the dense core to occasional visitors in the outer atmosphere.
Other definitions of church are valid too…but that’s the working definition for this post. ↩
Any organization draws a particular crowd. Companies that want strivers demand long hours. Restaurants that want a fancy atmosphere might require men to wear a jacket. Churches that want young parishioners hire young staff and trendy musicians.
The internet is moving from anonymity to duplicity.
I’ve opted for focus on the bottom 50% of wage earners as a useful rule of thumb.
In education, “peer effects” refer to the ways that classmates affect each other’s education. Keeping other important factors like teacher quality and classroom size constant, the level and behavior of classmates clearly influence a child’s learning. There are many studies showing that peer effects are real and how they operate. They mainly affirm the common sense saying that “iron sharpens iron.”
If you’re looking for ways to cope with being broke and raising children, living together with more people is a time-tested method. Household sizes have been falling since America’s founding as we got richer. Rich European countries with old populations have the smallest households, while poorer countries with many children have the largest households, according to Wikipedia.
I’m reading a book about post-secondary unschooling, Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More Than Your Peers Ever Will by Dale Stephens.
Any school offers a bundle of complimentary services and attracts partners. For colleges, the anchor is teaching undergraduate students. Undergraduate tuition provides funding for graduate students and professors’ research, who teach the classes. When students live on or near campus, there’s an industry to provide housing and meals that bolster the student experiences. Specialized counseling, medical, and financial aid services aim to help students successfully finish their degree. Athletics programs provide entertainment and brand awareness. Local businesses partner with colleges for training programs, and industrial parks are established to commercialize innovations developed at the college.
Understand the History
Democracy is sometimes called America’s “Great Experiment.” By any measure, it’s a success. We rocked it. Now every country wants to be a democracy, or at least call themselves one.1 In the 1960’s, we leveled up. America embarked on its 2nd Great Experiment: co-equal multiculturalism.
What’s the smallest scale imaginable to foster healthy growth of young adults? What’s the path to growth?
- Participate in a home matching online marketplace as an intermediary. Rent a home and sublet to subjects. Design rules for subjects’ cooperation. Provide a minimal set of services like back-up childcare, tutoring, academic advising, job searching, government benefits and tax advice, etc.
- Recruit more established adults to serve as mentors.
- Lend reputation by helping get subjects jobs. Start a business that preferentially employs participants.
- Apply for grants to acquire real estate to use as permanent housing. Allow subjects to buy equity stakes, enabling rolling real estate purchases.
Poverty is a chicken-or-egg problem. When is the best stage in the human lifecycle at which to intervene to break cycles of poverty? Is it better to help adults or children?
Christians are called to live in the moment. To save up treasures in heaven, not on Earth. To trust God. But we are also not to be irresponsible and an undue burden on each other. It’s foolish to trust too fully in men, even if they profess trust in Christ. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
One of the hardest ideas for me to wrestle with is that there are 8 billion other people living in this world with the same depth of experience as me. They each have the same depth of feeling as me. Each person experiences quiet thoughts and has clever inside jokes with their friends.
I dream of starting an intentional living community. For those who know me, “the Commune.” Since 2017, when I first started blathering about the Commune, the idea has remained slippery. It’s a loose collection of shifting goals that don’t accurately reflect a commune, but I don’t have a better name.
Since the 1960s, US governments and society have taken steps to elevate African Americans. These are attempts to reverse damage done by the same groups’ actions that repressed African Americans until that time.1
The 1960s were a turning point in discriminatory policies. Many forms of discrimination of course still linger today, but they normally lack official sanction. ↩
- Community college students
- Young parents + kids at risk of CPS involvement because of poverty
Wooden utility poles in America are inspected every 10 years to make sure they haven’t rotted. The workers leave behind a metal tag with the year of the inspection. I enjoy stopping and looking at the phone poles in an area to find the oldest tags. Some tags go back to the 1940s.
One communist is a joke. A million communists are a nightmare. The same is true of racists. To illustrate, one of my favorite whackos in America is Michael Symonette, who tries to unite Blacks and Whites…by blaming everything on the Cherokee Indians. He’s deeply crazy and “racist”, but the dude is basically harmless because nobody agrees with him.
Property rights are a society’s definition of what it means to own something. They are the bedrock on which individuals stand when they agree to trade goods or services. When I buy a candy bar or a piece of land with money, me and the seller are both depending on a clear, stable definition of what it means to “own” those things. (Watch a quick Khan Academy overview.)
The past 500 years have been a wild ride for White people.
This post is an attempt to show America in scale compared to the rest of the world. The world is a big place—but not so big that it cannot be summarized. The US has 5% of the world population. If there were 20 random people in a room, probably one of them would be American.
Fewer than half of America’s school children identify as White today. Many of these kids don’t imagine themselves in the thrill of Paul Revere’s nighttime ride or feel their pulse quicken at Patrick Henry’s heroic, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” It’s not believable to say “we” when talking about America’s past role in the world when your ancestors would never have been accepted as actors in it.
Our history isn’t all happy. Our country’s best traits aren’t all intentional. But the end result is special.
Long ago I learned the phrase, “The North won the Civil War, but the South won Reconstruction.” The explicit statement is true – Northern Union troops won the American civil war and ended slavery, but a White Southern backlash enshrined another 100 years of racist Jim Crow oppression for Black Americans. However, the phrase also reinforces a Northern narrative of being on the ‘right side of history’ that is not fully justified.
Garfield Minus Garfield is a literary gem. With Garfield’s character removed from Garfield comic strips, Jon is revealed – depressed, absurd, and pitiful. I challenge you to try the same trick with the early history of Europeans’ arrival to America. Avoiding focus on European experiences, you’ll clearly see the apocalypse that consumed our continent.
Math expressions unfortunately don’t appear correctly on my website. Read this article in my Github repo here to see the math expressions more clearly.
In Rosen’s paper, the theory is that companies simultaneously pay a price for labor, and workers pay a shadow price for a job. The shadow price that workers pay for a job is their maximum earnings potential minus their actual earnings. Workers can be excluded from certain types of jobs if the job’s shadow price exceeds their earnings potential.
I woke up this morning and watched a video from Neuralink of a monkey playing a computer game with its brain. How on God’s green Earth do they do that!?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a far left US Representative from New York, helped popularize in 2019 a heterodox macroeconomic theory called Modern Monetary Theory. The takeaway from MMT is that the US government can pay for whatever it wants by printing more money. You can read a full explanation on Wikipedia.
Growing up, Dad liked to listen to radio programs from an organization called Focus on the Family. It’s a Christian media group centered on the premise of “helping families thrive.” I always loved that goal. Anyone with a family knows how hard family life can be!
Yonkers, New York is dirty. It’s where I live, and there is literally trash everywhere - every gutter, every forest, every highway. Most of it has a corporate logo. This article is a proposal to motivate (name, shame, blackmail) stores to pick up after their customers.
My son was born today!
What’s the easiest way to secure housing for a community of like-minded individuals with a shared purpose? This post compares the money required to (a) build such a neighborhood from scratch versus (b) orchestrate a hostile takeover of a poorly run homeowners association.
(This article was originally posted on the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families’ blog in April 2016, where I interned. Their blog has since disappeared so I’m re-posting here. It was originally titled “Looking at Tax Time for Near Poor Hispanic Families”.)
When you buy or rent a home, you’re choosing more than the home. You get proximity to shops and parks, access to schools, and public services like police and fire protection. Perhaps most importantly, you choose your neighbors.
Somebody asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” To that, Jesus replied with the parable of the Good Samaritan, who helped a wounded man he found on the side of the road.
Prison is a useful threat because it can be applied to anybody. Fines only control people who have money to pay.
Jim, one of my childhood mentors, was a copy machine repairman. I don’t know his full story, but I know he got shot in the Vietnam War. Every Sunday, he carried a tote filled with candy to our church and distributed his loot liberally if we kids could recite Bible verses. He was a hero.
Health insurance is confusing! Here’s how I chose my current health insurance plan.
“Drive slower to save money on gas.” This statement points to the tradeoff between time and money in choosing how fast to drive. What is the hourly rate we pay to drive faster? Let’s use the calculator on mpgforspeed.com.
(Note to the reader: If some portion of this is offensive and wrong, please gently correct me. I’m trying.)
Who are we? And who are they? We are children of God - nothing more, nothing less. If our worth comes only from God, all people are equal in the sight of God.
Most American churches are still racially segregated. Martin Luther King called Sunday morning, “the most segregated hour of Christian America.” Are Christians really that racist? What is going on and what can be done about it?
American history is being rewritten and will be rewritten. That’s because any country tells history in a way that makes them feel good and fosters their ideals. But fewer than half of America’s school children identify as White today. Many of these kids don’t imagine themselves in the thrill of Paul Revere’s nighttime ride or feel their pulse quicken at Patrick Henry’s heroic, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” It’s not believable to say “we” when talking about America’s past role in the world when your ancestors would never have been accepted in it.