Showing posts from June, 2014

There are Only So Many Hours in the Week: The Math of Monogamy

I have long had a fascination with why humans seem to generally place a pretty high value on monogamy in spite of the many challenges involved in making lifelong monogamy work. We seem to fail more often than we succeed, yet, across the globe, the human species as a whole seems to want very much to make it work. I think there are a lot of reasons for that including germ control, the demands of child rearing, and attempts to verify paternity.

But a few years ago, I had an Aha! moment concerning the sheer logistics when I paired existing information I already had with data in a study I tripped across:
Some years ago, I saw an interview with some relationship/marriage expert who indicated it takes 18 to 20 hours per week to establish and maintain an intimate relationship such as marriage. Since then, I have had the thought that this means, realistically, based on time constraints alone you can have up to two lovers but probably not more.

A lot of people can manage to have two full ti…

If I Could Make $100 An Hour, I Wouldn't Need Your Advice

There was a discussion recently on Hacker News where a programmer on the verge of homelessness asked for feedback on how to deal with his problem. Patio11, the member holding the number two position on the leaderboard, posted a comment which is currently the top ranked comment in the discussion and a follow-up in which he said (in part):

The only thing you have to do to hit $100 an hour in e.g. Python programming, which you appear to do, is to stop taking gigs which pay less than $100 per hour. People express disbelief at this, and it is headdesk inducing to me.

I posted a comment partially rebutting some of what he said and trying to give some tips on immediate survival. I have been homeless for 2.5 years and have had a college class on homelessness many years before I became homeless, so I think I know a thing or two about just how very wrong things must go to land you on the street and that there are typically no quick fixes. Part of what I said was:

First, in order to charge $100…

Seven Ways to Stress a Postive Perspective

This is a follow-up to my thoughts on the importance of Stressing Perspective. Here are things that help me keep it together and not get into a mode of just expecting tomorrow to be yet more gloom and doom in spite of the high levels of stress I live with
"Count your blessings" -- List what has gone or is going right.Listen to soothing music.Eat a good meal. Not just something nutritious but something enjoyable and delicious.Generally try to seek out pleasurable experiences, whether good music, good food, sexual gratification, fun social events -- whatever gives you joy or pleasure. Look for the silver lining. Try to find the actual, real benefits to things that "went wrong" or didn't go as you would have wished.Look for evidence or clues concerning the negatives that the "road not taken" may have had.Problem solve, especially if there is any pattern or reason to believe some of these problems grew out of something in particular.
These are not just men…

Messy Work: A Business Analysis of "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre"

I have never seen the movie "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" but I have spent the day fascinated with reading through an old, overly long and rambly article (from 2004) about the story behind the film called They Came. They Sawed.

I initially posted it to Hacker News directly. It got no traction and I found myself wanting to post more and more quotes from the article as comments (which just did not seem appropriate). So I finally decided that what I really needed to do was just write my own article about this article and why I think this piece is interesting from the perspective of someone wanting to launch a business.

For starters, it basically began with a couple of young men who had an idea for a film. The article talks about the messy process of how they made social connections, got funding, and found actors and the like -- the behind the scenes stuff about how this work got done. In some ways, this is not terribly different from how any small business is birthed. It is me…

How to Get an Article onto the Front Page of Hacker News

Because of the things I have been doing to resolve my health issues, I have been super tired for the past 2.5 months. I have not been getting much done during this time. Yesterday, I was again not really getting much of anything done and, on top of being too exhausted to think clearly (my norm these past ten weeks), my eyesight was giving me more fits than usual.

So rather than try to work, I was mostly hanging out online, surfing a couple of forums, chatting with friends, that kind of thing. I happened to upvote an item on Hacker News and was trying to read the story and trying to make sense of why it seemed unrelated to the title. I was just about to post an excerpt and comment on it on Hacker News when life got in the way and I ended up having to log off and walk away from the computer for a bit.

When I returned and refound the item and went back to the article, I realized that I had actually been reading a different article. I had apparently clicked "Next Article" on the…

Leaving The American Nightmare of Affluenza Behind

I recently said:I grew up "on a glacier" (see the comment "Paris Hilton lives on a Glacier" in this piece) even though I am far from "heiress" status in terms of wealth. In case you don't want to read the entire article, it is a piece about money metaphors. Here is the metaphor I am referencing:
Money as water: though this is about flows, sources and sinks, it is subtly different from the commodity/supply chain metaphor, since it has natural origins. Think in terms of dams, rainwater, artesian wells, money “frozen up” in old families as glaciers/polar ice caps, and so on. This is probably the best way to think about money culturally and socially. Paris Hilton lives on a glacier. Maybe glacier is an inaccurate metaphor for how I grew up. Glaciers are not the kind of thing you can miss. They cover large land masses and make deep gouges into the bedrock which, after they retreat, become huge lakes. In short, they shape the landscape and have far-reaching …

Stressing Perspective

They say "It's lonely at the top." I was one of the top three students of my high school graduating class, so I can understand why that gets said. But, having spent a lifetime walking away from the limelight and intentionally trying to keep a low profile, I will say that loneliness and other forms of stress are pretty common regardless of your station in life. But, also, it helps to have some perspective as to what exactly your position really is.

Yesterday, there was a discussion on Hacker News about Founder Depression. (It may still be on-going.) I do understand why founders of companies would get depressed. It's a hard job and there is a lot of pressure and you are making it up as a you. You really have no idea if it will work.

The Hacker News discussion linked above is related to a short piece called Founder Depression by Sam Altman. Below is a short quote from that piece:
Failing sucks—there is no way to sugarcoat that. But startups are not life-and-death matte…

It Is Not Really a "Fund Drive" When They Say "Shut Up and Take Our Money"

Relatively recently, the owner of MetaFilter announced that there would be layoffs of moderating staff. The community rose up en masse and basically said "Shut up and take our money." Matt switched gears astonishingly quickly and humbly shut up and took the money, giving me some idea as to why Metafilter is as successful as it is.

There was quite a lot of public discussion of that on Metafilter itself. The discussion has largely died down but is still somewhat on-going. Recently, the debate seems to have turned towards some people expressing that they are For doing a fund drive for more donations (under x, y or z conditions and what not) and others who have expressed that they are Against doing a fund drive.

I kind of feel like folks who are debating that really don't understand what is going on because Matt did not really do a fund drive to begin with. He notified the community that his income from ads had really taken a big hit, such a big hit that he was being forced…

Nobody Goes There Anymore. It's Too Crowded.

I have a permanently impaired immune system, as does my oldest son. Thus, crowds tend to make us sick. For that and other reasons, my two sons and I aren't exactly fans of crowds. We strongly prefer to go places that are relatively quiet and uncrowded. The more desolate, the better.

But we have this one problem: Wherever the three of us go to get away from the madding crowd, the crowd soon follows. So, not terribly long after discovering the perfect place for our needs, replete with solitude, we often have to find some new place to hang out in order to get the solitude we crave.

Thus, we often find ourselves no longer going someplace that was once our favorite place because now it is simply too crowded for our tastes. This has led us to discuss the saying "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." We have concluded that the saying sticks around because it is not as nonsensical as it might seem at first blush.

We think it sticks around because it gets interpreted…

Body Politics: Women, Weight and Getting a Life

Yesterday I watched this video of a woman talking about being fat and body image. I found it via the MetaFilter discussion. I initially planned to not participate in the discussion but today I did make a long comment.

As noted in my long comment, this obsession with women needing to be thin seems to be a white American thing to me. I have mixed feelings about it. Placing value on hips and bosom and voluptuousness is something cultures do when they value fertility. So I suspect the value white American culture places on thin women is somehow a protest against having babies. Or maybe, to view it more positively, some idealistic goal to have women be more than just baby factories.

American women seem to be lagging behind European women in terms of quality of life and closing the gender based wage gap. European women seem to have mostly gone after more support for their role in having and raising kids. American women have historically based their search for rights on the American traditi…