Unhappiness/Practical and Quixotic Pursuits

I am not happy right now. It pains me to say this, but it is true. I wish I could elaborate more on this, but I don't see how. I have been on an almost five year high despite numerous bad things happening along the way during that time. I could point to circumstances in my life currently, but they are the usual mix of good and bad I have had over my run. All things considered, I am probably doing better now than I was this time last year. So, what's the deal?

My mood is directly tied to how I look at the world, and I must admit that this view has become much darker lately. I don't know if it is a result of the Obama Clusterfuck Administration in Washington or the recession or whatnot. What bothers me is a sense that my life is going nowhere and that I am just spinning my wheels.

I have been reluctant to admit this change in my outlook, but I have spent this entire day coming to grips with it. I don't even know what to do about it. I'm just really pissed off. The frustrating thing is that I am at a loss to articulate this anger. I would channel this anger into a constructive endeavor, but I don't know what or who I am even pissed at. I am beginning to think that the person I am pissed at is none other than myself.

My long period of happiness was a result of a few things. The first was an acceptance of myself warts and all. I am remarkably candid to myself and about myself. Self-deprecating wit is very good for one's self-image. Being able to laugh at yourself takes a certain pride and virtue, and the more I do it the more secure I feel in who I am. It is counterintuitive such that people can't tell if I suffer from a poor self-esteem or extreme egotism.

The second thing I did was to quit being prey for the guiltmongers and to learn to be selfish. I don't believe in letting people walk all over me, and I don't walk on others. I have Ayn Rand to thank for this insight, and it has changed my life for the better.

The third thing I did was to busy myself in work and projects and to live in a constant state of flow. That state is now disrupted, and I have turned to navel gazing to fill the void. This is not good. How did this disruption occur?

I can't answer that question. I suspect it is the result of exhausting my current projects and a cutback in work. I watch a lot of DVD's these days. The last sense of accomplishment I had came from cleaning my bathroom. Just today, I wrote a couple of incendiary emails for no other purpose than the deliberate provocation of some leftard shitheads. This was mildly amusing but unsatisfying.

I am bored, restless, and angry. This is not a good state for me to be in. I don't have a specific answer to this dilemma, but I do have a general answer--PROJECTS. I don't know what these projects will be, but the lack of projects seems to be why I am in this state of agitation. I lack new initiative, new ideas, and new life. It absolutely sucks. This is not who I am.

I suspect my present crisis stems from my readings on randomness. If life is largely a crapshoot, it leads to a certain fatalism. I depend on work to keep me going, but if you believe your work is a waste of time such as pursuing political change that will never happen or defying the overwhelming odds to start a business, you throw in the towel. These are Quixotic pursuits. This isn't to say that they aren't worth going after because you do get lucky sometimes. But if they dominate the portfolio of your personal projects, they will lead to discouragement. You should not devote more than 20% of your time or resources to these things. I might even consider 10% a better way to go.

Practical pursuits are those things you can control or where the odds are in your favor. These are things like getting in shape or learning a new skill or establishing a new career in a new field. Most of my pursuits are quixotic. This distinction between the quixotic and the practical is what I need to break out of this logjam.

SOC

I have been wanting to experiment with a stream of conscious style post here for awhile now, and this is it. Being confined to a topic sucks because I am always able to write, but I don't always have things to write about. SOC is more about asking questions.

The questions I ponder these days all deal with randomness and luck. If we define success in terms of mass appeal, how then do we make people like or want what we have to offer? Why did people become so enthusiastic about Harry Potter? Malcolm Gladwell can't explain that.

That is the real problem I have with Gladwell. His hindsight bias is overwhelming. I haven't read Outliers yet, and I don't think I need to. It will be the same as his last two books. He gives all these great insights that are utterly useless. This brings me to a mental project of mine.

I like my blog here, and I have a few fans. But for my mental project, I try to think up an idea that will lead to the creation of the number one blog/website on the internet. It's more of a mental parlor trick and intended for amusement than actual reality. This is because I think the task is impossible. If the people who think it all boils down to skill are correct, then it should be possible to come up with the idea and make it happen.

It really all boils down to one original killer idea. The internet is creative democracy. The only thing holding you back is your own brain. As it stands, Technorati lists The Huffington Post as the number one blog on the internet. I like to distinguish between this corporate blog as opposed to a blog put out by a single author like Seth Godin or Andrew Sullivan. The term "blog" has been stretched a bit.

If we agree with Napoleon Hill that all we need to do is think and grow rich then creating the number one blog on the internet is really a matter of thinking more than anything else. This is all I know so far about this project in my head I will call the M-Project. (The M stands for "mass appeal.")

1. It has to be non-political.

2. It can't be negative in anyway.

3. The public must find the info there indispensable and useful for their lives or simply very entertaining.

4. Must be devoted to a single topic or area.

That's it. Those four things help explain the success of Zen Habits that cracked the Technorati 100 in less than a year since its creation. The sad thing about Zen Habits is that it is an utterly useless piece of crap website. Basically, you have a guy who decides to quit smoking, get in shape, and quit blowing all his money. This is the sort of thing I mock in my how-to articles here. These are laudable things, but I find it ridiculous that anyone gives advice on any of this shit. I feel a digression coming on.

Personal development boils down to just a few simple things. Quit smoking, drinking, doing drugs, and eating Big Macs. Quit being idle. Quit spending more than you make. Exercise. That's it. You can read all the articles you want on these things, but there is no mystery to it. People have crappy habits. I know I do. I don't lack knowledge of what needs to be done. This is why I can laugh at Zen Habits. That site is nothing more than feeding back to people their own wish fulfillment and good intentions. But I digress. . .

Maybe the M-Project could be a spoof of Zen Habits called Bad Habits. We can have informative articles like How to Shotgun a Beer in Three EZ Steps or How to Cheat on Your Wife and Not Get Caught. But these are simply good jokes I can post here. The sad reality is that I can't shotgun a beer. Very hard to build a blog around shit you don't know.

If there is a website the world does need, it is a comprehensive website to live broadcast non-mainstream sporting events like Texas High School Football or Arena Football or stuff from overseas or what have you. Unfortunately, that project takes a ton of cash which is why it doesn't exist. I call it "microcasting" since we are talking about small audiences for these events. I doubt it would be a profitable venture.

Time to pinch off this turd. More turds to come.

Polanski

I don't know how the latest chapter in the Polanski saga will play out, and I'm not even sure what opinion I should have on the matter. The simple fact is that a 44-year-old man having sex with a 13-year-old girl is just fucked up. What he did was criminal.

I recognize there are extenuating circumstances in the case involving the judge who was a total media whore. But Polanski was getting a slap on the wrist all things considered. The simple fact is that the rich and famous get a free ride on the shit they do while the rest of us get hard time.

The victim in the case expresses no desire for justice because we are talking about someone who is now well into her 40's and simply doesn't give a fuck about the matter anymore. I doubt she was all that traumatized in the first place since it was her mom that flipped out and wanted to press charges.

The resolution to this affair comes down to a trial and whether or not the victim cares to press charges. We already know she is ready to settle the matter, and this case will most likely be dismissed. But Polanski drags it out by remaining a fugitive. He needs to come back to the US and deal with it.
Going without breakfast and coffee is a bad idea. Almost as bad as TARP.

How to Get Shit Done

Time management is a frustrating issue for a lot of people. Everyone has the same 24. It doesn't get bigger or smaller. Yet, there are people who get more stuff done than others. How do they do it?

There is a lot of advice on this matter and almost all of it is wrong. The first school counsels planning. You go out and get some schedule, calendar, planner, back of a grocery receipt-whatever-and plan out your day. By the end of the day, you will find that you are no more productive than you were before except you blew some additional time with all that planning. Beyond writing important dates down on a monthly calendar, this is a waste of time.

The second school counsels having a To Do list. This is somewhat helpful. Having a litany of good intentions will increase the guilt a bit.

The third school counsels elimination of all distractions such as videogames, television, email, etc. All this achieves is to add boredom to idleness.

The fourth school is the minimalist school which counsels diminishing your expectations to your present level of failure. By focusing on only the essential or most important goals, you will get more done. Less is more. This is bullshit. Anyone who manages his or her life on a crisis-by-crisis basis already does this.

When it comes to time management, we need a real world solution that gets it all done but is also very simple. To appreciate the solution, we must first diagnose the problem.

Let's take a fictional example. We will call him Billy Bob. Billy Bob has 168 hours in his week (the same as the rest of us.) He sleeps 8 hours each night. He works 40 hours per week. This leaves him with 72 hours of Waking Free Time or WFT. This is three whole days!

Now, let's take Suzy Q. Suzy Q is driven. She sleeps 6 hours per night and works 80 hours per week. Her WFT? 46 hours--almost two whole days. She could work another 20 to make it an even 100 and still have an entire day of WFT to blow. You can do the same exercise with your own life, and the results will surprise you. Simply put, you have no excuses. You have plenty of time to do the things you want to do. But where does all that time go?

Idleness. There is your answer. All that WFT you have is frittered away on idle pursuits. Maybe you have a long commute. But even time behind the wheel is time that can be spent on doing something productive.

The secret to getting shit done is ABD--Always Be Doing. That's it. Determine never to be idle, and your problem won't be finding time to do things. Your problem will be finding things to do with your time. You will quickly exhaust that To Do list and will need to think of new things to add to it.

The problem with all those other time management strategies is they spend more time thinking about the problem than actually doing something about it. This is just another form of idleness. It is called daydreaming. Stop thinking and start doing. This is the answer.

Like any habit, ABD takes time to develop, and you won't be perfect at it. But it is the only one that works. Even an incomplete habit of ABD will yield more results than those other methods.

Critics of my ABD strategy will say that this will lead to stress and burnout. This isn't true. It isn't the activities that you do that cause stress. It is all that shit you didn't do that causes stress. Getting shit done leads to a greater sense of control and less stress.

When you follow ABD, you get into a flow state. You live in the zone, and you actually enjoy life more. The good life does not lie in idleness. ABD brings happiness, control, and freedom to your life. This one habit becomes the cornerstone of many other good habits such as exercise and eating right. I know most of my bad eating habits come from eating fast food, convenience store garbage, and vending machine crap because I never have time to fix myself a healthy lunch. With ABD, I have the time and quit making excuses.

ABD will also do wonders for you on the job. You will produce more and achieve more. You will also enjoy your work more. There are also practical tips for doing ABD. Sometimes, you get trapped in the car or a long line or a waiting room. It helps to have projects for these times. I read about one fellow who wrote a novel during the daily ferry ride to and from work. You can listen to audiobooks or learn a language during your commute. I carry an iPod shuffle for just such times. Thanks to iTunes U, you can get a college education while you drive. There are endless possibilities here.

There is a downside to ABD. Other people are not going to share your life for productivity. You may have to tell the office slacker to fuck off when he comes by for his daily shoot-the-shit session. Being a doer instead of an idler is a revolutionary act. You may lose some friends.

If you follow ABD, you will get more shit done. GUARANTEED. You will experience a more robust way of living, and the habit will reinforce itself as you go along. You will also quit wondering where all your time goes. The end result will be achievement and happiness.

Google Trends

Shannon Funk
What a name. PA to Britney Spears. A hottie. Run to Google Image Search now. Don't fake the funk.

Khloe Kardashian
Gets married to Lamar Odom. Divorce pending within the year.

Palm Pre
The poor man's smartphone.

The Cleveland Show
The next big hit from Fox. The black version of Family Guy. Personally, I hate every goddamn show that Seth McFarlane makes. That guy ain't funny, and the people who watch his cartoons are shitheads.

Megan Fox
Mega-hottie slut.

Phenobarbitol
Drug recall. Druggies saddened by news.

Lara Manoukian
Pissed off ex-girlfriend of Lamar Odom. Sorry 'bout it.

Bad Ideas Never Die

There are people who still believe the earth is flat. These people are no real threat, but if they managed to gain control of government, public schools, and the media, they could simply kill off the rest of us round earth people, and there you have it. After a generation or two, the world is flat again.

You can chuckle at this scenario, but I can't. This is because I watch it happen everyday in the realm of religion and politics. Kids are brought up believing in God, and anyone who doubts the fairytale is an "oddball." And despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, I battle Marxism constantly among people who should know better but don't.

Bad ideas never die. They just lie dormant waiting to emerge again when things become favorable. Phrenology and bloodletting could be back. To add insult to injury, new bad ideas come into existence everyday. You can demolish Catholicism, but Scientology is ready to take its place.

I find faith in a multicultural pluralistic society. The answer is not sanitize the culture of all bad thinking but to allow room for good thinking to emerge. This is why I despise political correctness. You never know when the whackos might be right. It is the same reason why we keep smallpox in a frozen vial. As bad as it is, we might need it someday. The same goes for Mein Kampf.

It is my personal belief that flat earth belief is held merely to go against the status quo. I think this is also the impetus behind Wicca. People want to be different, so they go along with bullshit to rankle people. As for me, I am amused but not alarmed. I recommend body piercing instead.

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. GLENN BECK

Glenn Beck is not a libertarian. I really wish he would quit using that term to describe himself though he was probably as libertarian as Bob Barr.

The litmus test for a true libertarian is their position on the drug war. Anyone who thinks drugs should remain illegal is simply not a libertarian. That person is a conservative. Glenn Beck supports the war on drugs. He also supported the Iraq war. He gets a big F on his libertarian report card.

2. PATRICK SWAYZE

I was saddened a bit when I heard Swayze died. He was not a top shelf actor in the De Niro/Pacino mold, but he was in some of my favorite movies. Point Break was one of my guilty pleasures. I owned the VHS tape and watched it repeatedly during the 90's especially for Swayze's "metal coffins" speech and the American spirit. The movie was definitely B-grade fare, but Swayze was a genius in his portrayal of Bodhi. You got what he was saying. Robbing banks was all about the stoke.

I didn't care much for Ghost, but I think Swayze will be missed and will live on in some of those guilty pleasure movies like Roadhouse and Red Dawn that play on TBS. You never know when your time is up, but I think Swayze had a good run.

3. BLACK POWER BITCH

Everyone knows a BPB or a "Black Power Bitch." This is an angry black woman who seethes with rage at any and all white people. The anger is unexplained and irrational. Even KKK types manage to be affable. I always get grief from these types because I am white guy with a bald head and a Southern accent. Talk about chumming the waters! Anyway, I find the best way to deal with BPB's is to simply talk to them as little as possible. They are easily identified by their scowl, acid tongue delivery, and the occasional African headgear.

4. MACKENZIE PHILLIPS

This chick had sex with her dad. OK, Dad was a perv, but Mac was also a perv, too. She was a grown up high on drugs. This is some sick shit. What is really sick is the lengths people will go to in order to sell a book.

5. SCHOOL KID INDOCTRINATION

Fox News watchers are horrified to learn that school kids were brainwashed into praising Obama and basically licking the fucker's ass. Sickening. But the brainwashing does not stop there. Public education is very horrible at education, but it has done a remarkable job of turning out kids with slavish devotion to the American myth and rehabilitating various presidents such as Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, and Kennedy. People are shocked to discover that their heroes were scumbags. Why is this? Shouldn't kids know that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and permitted Sherman's war crimes? Shouldn't they know that Wilson was a virulent racist who promoted segregation? Shouldn't they know that FDR's New Deal was really a raw deal that impoverished this country? And what about JFK putting it to Marilyn Monroe doggy style? Kids should know about this, so they can have a healthy distrust of their government like real Americans.

Robert Reich on the "Recovery"

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/09/22/reich_dow/index.html?source=newsletter

. . .the Dow is up despite the biggest consumer retreat from the market since the Great Depression because of the very thing so many executives are complaining about, which is government’s expansion. And regardless of what you call it -- Keynesianism, socialism or just pragmatism -- it’s doing wonders for business, especially big business and Wall Street. Consumer spending is falling back to 60 to 65 percent of the economy, as government spending expands to fill the gap.

It boggles the mind. The imbecility of the Keynesians is simply amazing. Let me try to clear up the error in this thinking with some simple logic. Government spending is consumer spending. It is debt that will be paid back in the future from the taxpayers. In short, this "recovery" is the product of getting a new credit card to max out. Meanwhile, we have lefties decrying that Wall Street has learned nothing from the meltdown. But they have learned something. The government is always there to bail them out. Now you know why the Dow is up. And lefties say we need more and better regulation. Fools.

The stupidity never ends.
The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues, and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else…Their purpose, in brief, is to make docile and patriotic citizens, to pile up majorities, and to make John Doe and Richard Doe as nearly alike, in their everyday reactions and ways of thinking, as possible.
H.L. MENCKEN
Friday is a dreaded day for workaholics. We dont share the enthusiasm of the rest of you.
The children have no future. The government has spent it.
Dont be mislead. Daily blogging is a real challenge.
The consequence of healthy eating is three dumps per day.

Why Atheists Become Leftards

Ever since the beginning of modern science, the best minds have recognized that "the range of acknowledged ignorance will grow with the advance of science." Unfortunately, the popular effect of this scientific advance has been a belief, seemingly shared by many scientists, that the range of our ignorance is steadily diminishing and that we can therefore aim at more comprehensive and deliberate control of all human activities. It is for this reason that those intoxicated by the advance of knowledge so often become the enemies of freedom.
F.A. HAYEK

Attend any meeting of atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers, and you will find in a relatively short period of time that most atheists are leftists in their politics. Granted, there are a minority of libertarians like myself and devotees of Ayn Rand. But my personal estimate is that this amounts to about 10% of the atheist community. This begs a certain question. How can so many smart people be so stupid?

The reality is that most atheists are no different from the fundies they claim to be against. Fundies believe they have a superior revelation of knowledge than the rest of us, and this entitles them to tell us what to do. Well, statist atheists do the same thing. Because they believe their knowledge is superior, this gives them the right to rule. Where a fundie might want to keep you from getting an abortion, the atheist will go after your love of Big Macs. For the atheist, anal sex with your gay lover is quite alright, but don't you dare light up a cigarette when you get done. Needless to say, these people are quite obnoxious to be around. I must confess that I despise them. I find the Christians in my libertarian circles to be much more tolerable mainly because they don't want to run other people's lives in spite of their religion.

When you hear a typical atheist discuss politics, he or she always does it with a smirk. Sam Harris would be a great example of this. Because Islam is a deluded religion, he extrapolates from that truth to conclude that US foreign policy should follow neoconservative policies such as preemptive war and torture, and he says it in the air that such policies are self-evident and to doubt them is on par with being a flat earther. As you can guess, Sam Harris is an idiot. As for neoconservatism, it is really the old Wilsonian liberalism. The irony of Harris's position is that it puts him in alliance with members of the GOP. This is also why we find Christopher Hitchens supporting some of the same neocon positions such as the invasion of Iraq even though he excoriates Henry Kissinger for war crimes. I suppose they only amount to war crimes when the targets are leftists.

Atheists are devotees of what we know as "scientism." This is a quasi-religion of sorts that Michael Shermer discussed in his famous essay, "The Shamans of Scientism." Essentially, the primary tenet of scientism is that science applies not just to issues like biology and physics but also to areas such as art, literature, politics, and other questions of value. This is an utterly absurd position to take. Yet, atheists take this position again and again. Hayek warned us of this in the quotation I referenced at the beginning of this post. Because these people believe they have some of the answers, they have all of the answers. But this is not science.

The core of science is a belief that science does not have all the answers, but it does have all of the questions. The essence of the scientific method is empirical skepticism. A scientism devotee would claim to believe in this empirical skepticism, but this is simply not true. Empirical skepticism has no endpoint in the process. There are no settled issues. To be an empirical skeptic is to live in a perpetual state of questioning. Devotees of scientism do not adhere to this. They want science to serve a normative function. The result is that these people have a wide streak of tyranny running through their core which is every bit as scary as anything an Islamist could dream up. It amounts to a new religion.

The devotees of this new religion argue in the same predictable patterns. If you disagree with them, they do not argue with facts in a scientific manner but seek to marginalize critics by lumping them in with deluded people such as creationists, flat earth people, Holocaust deniers, etc. Anyone can recognize the ad hominem fallacy in this except the devotees of scientism. The scientism people also make numerous appeals to authority and consensus to back up their positions in much the same way theologians would cite prior theologians and Scripture. This is not science. Flattered scientists in roles of authority also do little to dispel such veneration. We can laugh when a Bible college professor comments on evolutionary biology, yet shouldn't we also laugh when an evolutionary biologist tries to make comments on economics?

Because so many atheists are devotees of scientism, they believe they have all the answers especially to political problems. Freedom is fine but only as a precursor to their scientific control of every facet of human existence. Critics will scoff, but this same rationale is what animated Marxism and still animates it. Marxists believe in the historic inevitability of their position. The debate is over for them, and they move to action. The end justifies the means.

Libertarian atheists recoil at this justification of tyranny. I find that libertarian freethinkers are that way precisely as a consequence of their epistemology. This is why Michael Shermer and Penn Jillette and yours truly oppose tyranny. It is a natural consequence of skepticism. Truth is arrived at not because of a rational set of principles followed by enlightened people but as a result of trial and error. This experimentation necessitates the freedom to try and fail and to question things. Devotees of scientism do not believe in this trial and error process. It is not unlike fundies claiming that the canon of Scripture is now closed. Nevermind that this trial and error process is what gave us the knowledge we have today. Scientism people believe this process is done which is why they always move from debate to action. They don't want to be bogged down in questions. They want "progress." It is really pathetic to watch.

Given power, the scientism devotee will no longer rely on freedom and openness and education and other enlightened methods that bring lasting and humane progress. Instead, they will resort to the blunt force trauma of tyranny. This is how you get a Sam Harris championing war against the Islamists. Because they have superior knowledge, they get to rule. Because you have inferior knowledge, you have to forfeit your rights. This is not enligthenment. This is pure evil. What Spanish Inquisitor did not think in the same manner?

I hear my atheist friends talk constantly about prejudice and discrimination against atheists, yet I experience almost none of it in my own life. I have wondered why this was the case, but I think I may have the answer. Because my atheism is tempered by my libertarianism, religious people see me as a someone with simply a difference of opinion even when I call them "godidiots" and "religious fucktards." But leftard atheists aim to rule, and religious people see these people as a threat which is understandable. The philosophy of scientism is simply pre-tyranny. Today's victims are tomorrow's tyrants. You learn this from Nietzsche.

I predict that the atheist community will eventually split along these leftist-libertarian lines, and it should. You can witness the discomfort when a guy like Michael Shermer writes pro-market pieces in Scientific American or questions the orthodoxy of the scientism establishment. This is a debate that needs to happen. Atheists need to decide between enlightenment or merely a new form of tyranny.

---
NOTES

1. http://www.michaelshermer.com/2002/06/shamans-of-scientism/

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. KANYE WEST THE JACKASS

You have to be some kind of jackass to shit on Tyler Swift's moment and get the president to declare you a jackass. I despise Barack Obama as a politician, but on a personal level, I think I would like him immensely if I ever met him.

2. A BRIEF RELAPSE

I relapsed briefly to watch both the Gamecocks and the Panthers lose last weekend. I am back on the wagon now.

3. EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH

I never write about my job on the blog here because I want to keep my job. But I did get employee of the month for the first time in my life. Yes, folks, they draw names at random for this award, and I was the lucky dog.

I don't know if I can be considered a good employee or not. I never miss work. I never take a vacation. I never impose dictates about what I will or won't do or who I will work with. I get the job done. I have a constantly diversifying skill set that enables me to do just about anything and creates options for a manager. I am invaluable in a crisis. I also believe in capitalism and despise organized labor. But I am also candid about anything and everything, and I can tell you that honesty does not go unpunished. OTOH, meekness does not go unpunished either. It is what we call a lose-lose situation.

This would all be dispiriting for people who seek recognition and appreciation, but I am not one of those people. I do it all for the money. The best reward is a fat paycheck at the end of the week, and I want maximum profitability for any company that employees me because that keeps those paychecks coming my way. I work hard because I want to get paid. I create value, and value is whatever the customer desires and will pay for. Nothing motivates more than undiluted greed. As long as they keep paying me, I will remain as motivated as ever.

4. ENTREPRENEURSHIP REVISITED

I really really really want to start a business. I realize the odds are against me, but I am very unsatisfied these days. I am bored and restless, and I hate the way most companies treat customers. I want to believe that you can offer quality products and services to the public, and that by working hard and creating value, you can win in the marketplace. Is it all luck?

I don't think entrepreneurship is about luck. If it were, you would expect a mix of shitty and quality companies to rise to the top. Taleb points out that Apple computers are better than Microsoft products, yet Microsoft established market dominance. I can tell you why this happened. Microsoft products are cheaper. A Mercedes is better than a Toyota, but I am going to buy the Toyota because I can't afford a Mercedes. I'd really love to buy an iMac computer, but I can get a Windows machine for half the price.

The goal of any business when it comes to customers is to leave the customer with the feeling that they got value for the dollar. The customer should believe they got the better part of the deal. This doesn't mean you have to be the lowest cost provider. It does mean giving the most value for the dollar. If Apple could sell their computers for under a grand, they would expand their market share greatly. I expect Google to do what Apple refused to do. Give the public a very reliable and cheap computer. But I am digressing. . .

I am working on a business strategy that I think will make me a winner as an entrepreneur. I think this strategy can be applied to any business to make them tops in whatever market they are in. This strategy will be expressed in a mathematical formula. This is my current expression for it:

X={(v+b/p)/s}-g

X= success
v= value
b= brand loyalty/awareness
p= price
s= speed of delivery
g= government interference

It is virtually impossible to put numeric values on these things, but if you could, this formula would show where all businesses succeed and fail. An adjustment on any of these could propel or torpedo the business. Needless to say, it needs some tinkering.

5. IRVING KRISTOL

The father of neoconservatism is dead. Good riddance. The world would be a better place if Kristol had been stillborn. There would be fewer people dead. A life devoted to writing fart jokes is more valuable than the contributions of this man.
If Nostradamus could really see the future, why didnt he see penicillin?
One day, I might follow the splendid advice I give to other people.

When White Leftards Pull the Black Race Card

I love criticizing Barack Obama to black people. I can see the pained look on their faces as they have to take me shitting all over their idol and hero. This is because as much as we can feel good about the USA being progessive enough to elect a black president, Barack Obama is still a cocksucking lying leftard shit-for-brains idiotic piece of shit of a human being. Let me know if I left out anything.

The reason I despise Obama has nothing to do with his race. It has everything to do with his politics and his lying. If Barack Obama were a libertarian, I would like him very much, and he could count on my support. But Obama is not a libertarian. He is a socialist. He will grow government. He will raise taxes. He will intrude in our lives. And he will not end these wars we are in or legalize pot. He is worse than Bush, and he doesn't even have a year in on the job.

Leftards cannot fathom that people despise the man's policies. They can only frame it in terms of race. This shows how utterly asinine the Left is. Now, Jimmy Carter has thrown out the race card against Joe Wilson for calling Obama a liar. There is one problem with this. Other people have called Obama a liar, and they are neither conservative nor Republican. The fact is that Obama tells people what they want to hear and makes no effort whatsoever to keep his word on anything. Both leftards and fasctards can find a great deal to hate about Obama.

I try hard to find something to like about Obama. I was able to do this with Bill Clinton. Clinton balanced the budget and got welfare reform done. Obama is hellbent on doing the exact opposite. I hoped he would get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. I was really deluded on that one. So let me tell you why this prick got elected.

Obama got elected primarily because this country was sick of Bush-Cheney, and McCain was going to be Bush-Cheney II. No matter what, whoever got the Democratic nomination, that person was going to win the general election. Obama won the nomination because he opposed the war where Hillary did not. That was the Obama mandate. END THE WAR. It was not to socialize medicine or tax fossil fuels out of existence or bail out every industry in the USA. It was to get our men and women out of Iraq. Obama was seen as the person most likely to do this. So far, we are still waiting.

When leftards like Jimmy Carter toss the race card, they are fucking morons. The Left needs to grow a pair and tell their president to end the war. They won't. They want their socialism, and anyone who disagress with them are not sincere dissenters but racist inbred Ku Klux Klan neo-Nazi rednecks. This is sad sad sad.

This country is dividing not along Red/Blue state lines but along urban/rural lines. Urban sophisticates look down their noses at people who live out in the country and in the heartland or places like Alaska. They can no longer hide their antipathy for blue collar people and farmers and anyone who does't drive a Prius and listen to NPR. If you listen to country music, the Left hates you. When a peanut farmer like Jimmy Carter tosses out the race card, he is licking the asshole of the urban Left in a vain attempt to rise above his roots. I used to respect Carter as a man of peace but not now. He is an asskisser.

FWIW, neither Obama nor his administration use the race card. In this regard, I have high respect for them for doing this. Obama is still a liar, but at least he acknowledges that people disagree with him on the issues. Just because you don't agree with the POTUS doesn't make you a racist. The Left needs to grow up and move on.

As for black people who can't stand hearing me shitting on their president, what were you expecting? I've been shitting on white politicians for years. I've been talking shit about Bush for the last eight. I'm supposed to give Obama a pass because he is black instead of white? Fuck that. Tell your president to end the war that Bush started, and he will get way more respect from me. Until then, he is a lying cocksucking piece of shit. Deal with it.
There are those who accept responsibility and those who dodge blame.

How To Increase Blog Traffic and Make Killer Money

Anyone who blogs wants a lot of readers because readers click ads which puts money in your bank account. The only problem is that no one reads your fucking piece of shit blog. Here are some clever ways to build blogger traffic:

1. Stalk a celebrity and get a nude photo or sex on film.

It helps if you get a nude photo of a celebrity we haven't seen naked before. It also helps if we want to see them naked. Nobody wants nude photos of Rosie O'Donnell.

2. Become a heinous serial killer and then get caught.

Journalists get 90% of their info from Google, so they are sure to find your blog in their search for clues and info as to why you are such a fucked up psycho piece of shit. When they read that you never got over not getting a new bike for your tenth birthday, they will reference your blog and expose your parents to shame and ridicule for not buying you that goddamn bike. Think of all the lives they could have saved! But either way, your blog will become an instant hit as they follow the links from all those news articles.

3. Post porn.

If you can't get a nude celebrity pic, a regular nude pic will do the same trick. The simple fact is the internet never took off as a medium until Netscape allowed people to download pornography. The ugly truth is that the internet is a direct porn pipeline into your household. Google became number one because of Google image search. AOL reigned for all those years because of sexually charged chat rooms. Now, it has been replaced by MySpace and Facebook which are nothing more than hook up sites for people to find one another and fuck. Craigslist would be nowhere without those ads for prostitution. . .er, I mean "adult services." The bottom line is that if you want to tap into the heartbeat of the internet this means tapping into sex and porn.

4. Write killer articles on winning at blackjack, roulette, slots, sports betting, and the lottery.

Next to porn, gambling is the most popular other activity on the internet. It comes a distant second. Booze and drugs would beat it, but those substances have to be delivered the old fashioned way through bottles and drug dealers. The innovator who puts a direct beer tap into every home centrally supplied from a brewery through plumbing in the same way we get tap water will become the richest man who ever lived. Until then, gambling is number two, and you can never go broke catering to people's vices unless you are the government. They still have to resort to stealing in addition to the lottery.

5. Write about personal development.

Despite all the vice on the internet, there is a lot of guilt as well. People want two things out of life. They want to be rich, and they want to be thin. You can become really popular by writing the same advice over and over again which is to cut up your credit cards and stop eating fast food. The trick is to make it seem like the EZ way to these things because people want to be rich and thin. They just don't want to be disciplined. You can also throw in some shit on time management and quitting smoking for some variety.

6. Write an article called "How To Increase Blog Traffic and Make Killer Money."

When all else fails in your attempts to outdraw the +1 million bloggers on the internet, you can always rely on getting other bloggers to read your pathetic blog on how they can get other people to read their pathetic blogs. It is a bit incestuous, but as one inbred redneck put it, "Let's keep it in the family." If you came to this article in hopes of some real advice that would help you, I am afraid you got fucked on the deal. But I hope I made you laugh. But if I didn't, I can always give back your money, but you will never get back the time you wasted reading this shit.
The world has stopped being my bitch. I have lost the pimp hand. I must get it back.

Why You Should Never Attend High School Reunions

I wonder what it is like for the high school graduating class of Bill Gates when it comes reunion time. Does anyone bother going? Does Bill Gates go?

If you are ever invited to your high school reunion, you need to ask yourself two questions. Am I rich? Am I thin? If you can't answer yes to both those questions, you should not go. You won't like being there.

The problem with high school reunions is that it puts you back in the peer group that you left behind a long time ago. As such, you will immediately measure your fortunes against those of other people in the group. Since there is almost always someone better than you, you will inevitably feel that your life has been an utter waste and failure. If you had the misfortune to graduate with the world's richest man, you are pretty much fucked.

You should spare yourself this pointless inventory of where your life has led you. The whole reason I hated high school is because of this social sorting out of winners and losers. Who wants to return to that? Even if you went on to graduate Harvard, make a million on Wall Street, complete an Ironman, and marry a supermodel, all you can do is inspire envy and hatred. When your portfolio crashes in the next recession or your wife ends up screwing a high schooler, there are people out there delighting in your misfortune because they can feel a bit better at the next reunion.

High school was the worst period of my life. I remember my mother telling me these were the best years of my life, and I should enjoy them while they lasted. I realize now the reason she said this was because she was like everyone else in the world and hated working. But at the time, it filled me with dread. Life gets worse than this?

I am happy to say that life has not been worse for me but much better since those high school years. I have had my successes and failures but none of them have involved divorce or incarceration. But a primary reason I have enjoyed my life so much is precisely because I never measured it against anyone else's life. This practice is a waste because you can always say you are better than this bunch of people, and people can always say the same about you. Bill Gates might be rich, but he is still a geeky ass nerd everyone wants to punch in the face. If he ever got pancreatic cancer, people would cheer. He will never be cool.

And that is the tragedy of high school. Most people turn out to be exactly what they were back then. In high school, I was a social misfit that never fit in and spent all his free time working and reading books and doing his own thing. Twenty years later, I am still the same. The jocks have changed as they got old and fat. The nerds are still nerds. And the ones on all those high school committees and the yearbook are the same ones who teach school and organize reunions and attend civic functions, etc. Then, there is that large chunk who are now in prison. These were the ones doing drugs in the back of the schoolhouse between classes. Then, there is the Great Reversal.

The Great Reversal is the ugly chick that got hot, or the quiet guy who became famous, or the poor kid that struck it rich. It is like their whole lives have been lived as a sort of revenge. There is both triumph and tragedy in this. Their success is tinged with bitterness. It is as if nothing can ever overcome what was done to them during those early years.

Middle age is the great leveler as bodies sag under gravity, and people live long enough to experience misfortune. That is one of the good things of getting older. You become more secure in who you are. I don't know if this is because you learn to quit caring about your status, or you see others in your peer group finally going through some shit. When you see a former jock with a colostomy bag, you don't envy him even if he went on to become a Hall of Famer. Mortality is the great equalizer.

Finally, high school reunions are about nostalgia, and nostalgia is a form of sadness. I don't cherish memories because they end up leaving me depressed. Nostalgia lies because it tells you that the best times of your life are behind you. But I know better. The best time of your life is the present because the present is all that exists. Living in the future or the past is the same as living in some delusion. This is the jock who still wears his letter jacket and drives his muscle car. Talk about arrested development.

People cherish their peaks, and the saddest people are those who peak early and decline from there. The child star would be a splendid example of this. If they are smart, they pull a Jodie Foster and go on from there. Other people are stuck like Gary Coleman. If high school was your peak, that is sad.

Most people turn out to be average. They go to school, join the military, get a job. They go through a succession of sex partners and find one tolerable to marry. They pop out some kids and get a house. Then, they develop their secret addictions and vices (and not so secret addictions and vices) to make it all tolerable--beer after work, whiskey at the country club, a few lines of coke in the bathroom, prescription drugs (the favorite of housewives), internet porn, crystal meth with gay sex partner, affairs, etc. Some put up a good front by going to church and attending PTA meetings.

As for me, I always thought this way of living was really sad. Despite what you see in Grosse Point Blank, the hitman doesn't see the happy families and regret his lifestyle choices. He sees the schoolboard member smoking a joint out by his car and bitching about how fat his wife has gotten. There's a reason Indiana Jones never got married. (Yeah, he did get hitched at the end of Crystal Skull which is as good as being dead. You left feeling sad. Three movies was enough.)

I'm sure there are those who would consider my neverending adolescence to be really sad, but those are the women. All the men frankly tell me that they envy my freedom. And this is why I love my life so much now. I am free. I expect my girlfriend to dump me anyday now because I know I am never going to give up that freedom. Never. Being able to do with your time and money exactly what you want to do is the sweetest thing in the world. To live for no one but yourself is the best way to live and be happy. Going to a high school reunion will only bring condemnation from women for my selfishness (and a few phone numbers.) I don't need this.

The reality is that we all pursue the happiness that fits for us. Unfortunately, we can't choose both A and B. By choosing to be a lawyer you are also choosing not to be a doctor. By choosing to be a husband and a provider, you are also choosing not to be Indiana Jones. We don't feel any regret over these choices until we are in the presence of our peers, and we begin to wonder. Could things have been different? Could things have been better? But you can't have it all. No matter what choices you make in life, there will always be a certain degree of buyer's remorse. I bet even Bill Gates regrets not getting more pussy back in the day or seeing where chess could have taken him. You make your choices and live with where those choices take you. For me, the big regret was not buying Microsoft stock instead of spending my money on a car and a computer. Otherwise, I am quite happy with my life.

Never second guess your life. That's the whole point. Live without regret. Own your choices, and don't ever give a damn what other people do with their lives. It is your life, and you are the only person you have to please. And instead of going to the high school reunion, go get in a workout or work more hours because in the end it is all about being rich and thin. Seriously.

Children and Religion/ The Issue of Tolerance

I watch with a certain chagrin as my girlfriend's kids go to church. I come home to my apartment to see a door hanger advertising an afterschool program at the local church. Fundies and atheists fight over public school curricula.

Everyone wants to brainwash the kids, and churches are especially guilty in this regard. I received my own brainwashing from just such efforts and was a theist until the age of 30. 30 years is a long time to be a shithead. Needless to say, I think churches should leave kids alone. But they won't.

Religion persists because parents pass these beliefs down to their children. Even parents that don't go to church are more than willing to let their kids go because they see some inculcation of values into their kids but also because it is free childcare. There isn't a parent alive who doesn't love pawning their brats off on someone else for a few hours. This is why public school is so damn popular even though it is a joke. Church allows parents to extend the child neglect to six days a week (and you can make it seven if you double dip into Judaism or Seventh Day Adventism.)

The deal for folks who offer the free childcare is a chance to indoctrinate the next generation. Clever atheists can get in on the act by offering math and science tutoring for free and then leavening the instruction with healthy doses of Charles Darwin. Unfortunately, Karl Marx gets thrown into the mix because most atheists I know are pinko commies. So, I tend to not go along with these efforts.

I have this crazy idea that kids should think for themselves. This is a dangerous concept I know. But I am wired like this. Too much Karl Popper in my mental diet. If I ran a school, I would let everyone teach--fundies, atheists, commies, libertarians, etc. It isn't because I think all ideas are equal because they aren't. I am smart, and the rest of the world is pitifully stupid. But innovative thinking is often the product of the combinations of previous ideas. I think the Bible is horrible science, but it is first rate literature. On this basis, I think everyone should read it, and unlike most Christians, I have read the entire Bible. I quote from it a lot because it is rich in metaphors and what have you.

The problem I have is not so much with wrong ideas so much as the exclusion of ideas. This is why I can despise political correctness and campus speech codes as much as Christian book burning. This is where I part company with many atheists and also why I left Godless Columbia. I am quite offensive to other people, but I am also quite tolerant. I don't see how one should exclude the other. I believe in the freedom of expression for all people, but I also practice it. Tolerance does not mean being non-offensive to people. All it means is not using force against people we disagree with. It means letting them have the freedom to express themselves but also calling them idiots, shitheads, or what have you. The Gillian Peiffer approach is to exclude outspoken atheists in an effort to not piss off her new friends. Needless to say, this pissed me off. But I am stirring up some old shit.

It is a truth that those who preach tolerance the most are usually the most intolerant. This is how leftards are able to exclude opinions they disagree with. They label them as "intolerant" and move to have the "intolerant" forcibly removed, censured, or what have you. If this strikes you as Orwellian, you are correct. In the end, you will love Big Brother, or we will make you. You may disagree with fundies, but they are absolutely correct when they claim that atheists want to force their agenda on others. As a secular individualist, I am caught in the middle. This is the price for being enlightened. You have few friends.

Sundays are for religion here at the C-Blog, and I will continue to write on the topic unless inebriated, incarcerated, or otherwise, indisposed. God bless you, and God bless America.

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. JOE WILSON

That guy said more with two words than the President said all night. "You lie" is becoming a rallying cry for a lot of people who agree with Rep. Joe Wilson when he made that outburst during Obama's healthcare address to Congress. It was made when Obama said that illegal immigrants would not receive state sponsored healthcare benefits.

I am someone who supports immigration, but I can agree with the xenophobes that these people should not receive welfare. This is because I don't even think citizens should receive welfare. So, to extent, I can go along with Wilson and his supporters.

Wilson will have to crawl through shit for the outburst, but it hasn't hurt his standing among the voting public or with me. I think Barack Obama is a lying sack of shit, and everyone who voted for that fucker is a shit-for-brains fucktard. I would love to say all that on the floor of Congress. "You lie" is a moderate response all things considered.

2. SIMPLICITY

I've been trying the whole simplification routine in the manner that Zen Habits founder Leo Babauta recommends, but I have noticed how boring my life has become as a result. I don't tolerate boredom very well. I always need something to do or watch or read. So, I'm falling back into my maximalist ways. It is the way I am. I would make a horrible Zen Buddhist.

3. TELEVISED SPORTING EVENTS RELAPSE

I'm fixing to crash on this resolution to quit watching NASCAR and football. The reason for this is simple. Sports is about the only thing I can have a civil discussion with anyone about. Everything else I am interested in deals with religion and politics. Sports are a shared experience which is why people watch them. Being out of this loop, I have found that I talk less and less with people. I don't even have anything to talk to my girlfriend about. It has been quite a sociological experiment.

Looking back, my experience with the guy who played sports instead of watching sports also yields another insight. That guy was really quiet and a bit of a loner, too. He may have been his own hero, but it was pretty lonely out there.

I am someone who spends a lot of time by himself immersed in writing and study. But I crave social connection as well. Sports is the safe zone. I know if I ever met Barack Obama the only cool thing we could discuss would be basketball. Sports is integral to a civil society. It serves a vital social purpose which may explain why the Romans spent so much time on chariot races and gladiatorial combat. They were bloody, but they helped to quell revolution.

I am going back to sports because they make me a nice guy and a social person. I wouldn't have had these insights had I not embarked on this experiment, so I return with a new sense of the value of these pastimes.

4. DRINKING

I am not relapsing on this though I am amused when people think I used to be some kind of hardcore alcoholic because I don't drink at all now. The truth is that I don't like depressant substances, and alcohol is a depressant. My drug of choice is caffeine delivered via the strongest, blackest coffee I can make or find. My coffee makes normal coffee drinkers gag and reach for the cream. I need my kick.

5. LENO

I was always a Letterman type of guy. Having a ginormous streak of negativity in me, I always laughed at Dave's jokes and his silliness. OTOH, I like Jay Leno, too. He is actually one of my heroes. I really hate that these guys were put in opposition for so long on late night TV. I also think Leno's portrayal as a "conniver" are simply untrue. The reality is that he brought high ratings to The Tonight Show, and it was against competition. NBC was vindicated in picking him over Letterman

Leno's popularity comes from the fact that he appeals to the fat portion of the bell curve of America. Letterman is edgier which is why I liked him more. I am edgier. I like my shit tart. Sorry. But Leno is pretty funny, too.

I admire Leno because he is a classy guy with a blue collar work ethic. The guy is a workhorse. What he lacks in talent, he makes up for in hard work. He never takes a vacation, and he never misses a day. He does a show and a demanding schedule as a stand up comic. I admire this. He definitely belongs in the blue collar hall of fame.

His new show starts next week, and I think it will be successful. This is because his key demographic goes to bed earlier, and they don't know how to operate a TiVo. It also means I get to watch Letterman as well. As for Conan, I liked his show, too, but I think his future is fucked.

BTW, Nightline is now the number one show in that time period. That's where Jay's viewers went. They are just biding their time until the new show starts. Everyone else is just fighting over scraps.

6. MICHAEL JORDAN

Jordan went into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and no one deserves the honor more than him. IMHO, Michael Jordan was the greatest player to ever play that game. The league has not been the same without him. We are now in the post-Jordan era. The best anyone else can do is aspire to his greatness.

Jordan wept during his induction. This shows his humility. Truly great people are like that. We do not envy them. We admire them. Jordan was not a perfect man, but he was transcendant. I loved watching him play.

I lost interest in basketball when Jordan retired the second time. He would go on and play for the Wizards in a vain effort to try and revive that organization. But no one will remember that. He was a Chicago Bull, and we will always see him wearing the number 23 and charging to the hoop and sailing through the air. Pure magnificence.

7. CASTER SEMENYA

It has to suck to spend your whole life thinking you are a woman only to be told later that you are genetically a man and to find out on the world stage. This is a tragic story. IAAF officials were in no easy position on this, but rules are rules. Looking at Semenya, you know there is a Y-chromosome in their.

Officially, Semenya is a hermaphrodite with internal testes. He/she is also a world class athlete among females. Considering all the steroids her competitors are on, it probably makes no difference. But her disqualification from female competition pretty much ends her career. As far as I know, the Olympics apply the same gender status.

I just feel sad for her. Life can be so cruel.
Do not fall under the illusion that I give a fuck.
It was hard to tell my friends, all hurt in some manner by the [stock market] crash, about this feeling of vindication. Bonuses at the time were a fraction of what they are today, but if my employer, First Boston, and the financial system survived until year-end, I would get the equivalent of a fellowship. This is sometimes called "fuck you money," which in spite of its coarseness, means that it allows you to act like Victorian gentleman, free from slavery. It is a psychological buffer: the capital is not so large as to make you spoiled-rich, but large enough to give you the freedom to choose a new occupation without excessive consideration of the financial rewards. It shields you from prostituting your mind and frees you from outside authority--any outside authority. (Independence is person-specific: I have always been taken aback at they high number of people in whom an astonishingly high income led to additional sycophancy as they became more dependent on their clients and employers and more addicted to making even more money.) While not substantial by some standards, it literally cured me of all financial ambition--it made me feel ashamed whenever I diverted time away from study for the pursuit of material wealth. Note that the designation fuck you corresponds to the exhilarating ability to pronounce that compact phrase before hanging up the phone.
NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB

Obama on Healthcare

As I write this, I have just finished listening to Obama's vain attempt to reinvograte his efforts to reform healthcare. He hits the nail on the head when it comes to pointing out the problems. But, like the shithead he is, he totally misses it when it comes to the solution. For Obama and every leftard, all problems require government solutions. They never stop to consider that government might be the problem.

There are a few things that I think Obama could and should support:

1. Let insurance companies compete across state lines.

2. Put health savings accounts on steroids.

3. Tort reform.

What I could go along with is a requirement that health insurance companies cease and desist from defrauding their customers by finding a way not to pay for their healthcare costs even though they made an agreement to pay and their customers paid their premiums. It isn't insurance when the company weasels out of paying. I know people who have been caught in this dilemma, and I think it is shameful. I also expect it to happen to me even though I have insurance.

The system we have now is utterly fucked, and I think most Americans would like to see something happen on this issue. They just don't want socialized medicine. Obama could really do something great here if he quit with the socialist bullshit and actually pursue reforms that increase competition. But he still stands by that public option which will utterly end his chances on this issue. Drop that public option, and he could make a lot of progress.

I know I won't get what I really want which is a complete dereg of healthcare, but I can do with some marginal reform on this issue. The fact remains that most Americans are one accident or illness away from financial ruin. It should not be this way. But it is this way because we have no free market in healthcare. Any move in this direction would be a positive thing. But I expect Obama to fuck us ever deeper on this issue.
A pessimist is an optimist who failed.

Taleb, CEOs, Middle Management, and the Corporate Ladder

Anyone who talks to me or reads this blog will learn pretty quickly that I am a big fan of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. That guy has changed my thinking about the world more than any other person I can think of except Ayn Rand. Much of what he writes about are things I have been thinking for the last decade or so but never could put into words. Taleb does this. He tells us what we already know.

One of the things that Taleb pointed out to me is that Corporate America is a crapshoot. It is one thing to go out and learn a skill and get a job with that skill. It is another thing to go out and become a "manager." A great example of this would be a dialysis clinic staffed with RNs and health professionals with training in healthcare but overseen by a guy who managed a Western Sizzlin steakhouse previously. (This is a real world example.)

If you get the idea that management is a bullshit job, you are not far off the mark. Essentially, the corporate ladder is a giant survivorship bias structure rewarding the lucky and the ruthless while punishing the unlucky and the honorable. Your fortunes in this system are determined by events almost entirely outside of your control and taking credit for success you did not create and dodging blame for failure you probably didn't create either. A great example of this dynamic is the career of Carly Fiorina who went from being a lowly secretary to being CEO of H-P where she was essentially fired for being a stupid bitch.

Managers spend time adding and polishing ornaments on their resumes which mean nothing. The MBA degree and the "Six Sigma Black Belt" are examples of this nonsense. Most managers are considered good if they stay in their offices and read self-help books all day. Bad managers engage in robust tomfuckery. Back at Hell, Inc., I noticed when the wheels rolled through that all of our numbers across the board would drop and would go back to normal upon their departure. I figured it would be the opposite as things shaped up when these guys came to crack the whip. I know better now. Managers don't run things. Employees run the show, and the managers are gnats riding on an elephant's ass.

This isn't to say that all managers are useless. Even Led Zeppelin had a manager. Managers do best when they manage and coordinate efforts. They are like traffic lights. They don't drive the cars, but they do keep them from running into each other. These people are worth every penny they are paid which is usually not very much. But once you get beyond a few rungs on the ladder, these people don't add value anymore. They are removed from the action. Their time is then spent in conference calls, meetings, and filling out reports. The more ambitious will form a team to craft a new mission statement and organize a trip for a team building exercise involving falling into other people's arms and some rock climbing. Other hours are filled reading books about turning good companies into great companies or the best way to manage time. These people are paid well for adding no value and spend most of their time justifying their existence. But when the shit hits, they try to claim it isn't their fault. They deny, lie, and run for cover. This is "leadership."

Taleb points out that middle managers are simply coin flippers in a room, and the one who flips heads ten times in a row becomes CEO. This would explain Carly Fiorina. But CEOs actually do add value to a company. A good CEO can make a huge difference. I think of Steve Jobs as a prime example. That guy has proven his worth over the years. But he is not someone who slimed his way through middle management. He demonstrated leadership and was an entrepreneur. Considering the many unlucky breaks he has had, I can't dismiss his success as a mere fluke the same way I can with Bill Gates. As for Carly Fiorina, she ain't no Steve Jobs.

Most of the waste in a company comes from the middle layers. You could kill off a huge section of middle management in a corporate jet mishap, and the company would end up doing better as a result of having fewer bloated salaries to pay. The pyramidal structure of an organization should be replaced with a tower. Most large companies could be run by a staff of 20 people. This is because most companies are run by a staff of 20 people. Everyone else in middle management is along for the ride.

They way people move up the pyramid is easy. Get put in charge of a winning division, take the credit, and get a promotion. Get put in charge of a losing division, take the blame, and get fired. Since most of this comes down to pure luck, winners and losers are generated at about the same rate as people flipping quarters. If you have the luck to fall into a conglomerate like GE at the beginning of a 20-year bull market, you become Jack Welch. If the bull market collapses, you become Jeff Immelt. Jeffrey rose during the same bull market but will not survive the bear. His last flip was tails.

Middle managers are paid a lot, but that is because that is what it takes to enter into such a risky profession. Nurses who change bedpans and truck drivers enjoy a great degree of job security. Middle managers do not. They are fired with the regularity that you would expect of coin flipping. At Hell, Inc., I watched my 50-something year old hub manager get fired after a long career in the industry to be replaced by a young whiz kid who had dazzled the folks higher up the chain. They fired Mr. Whiz Kid six months later. He burned brightly but for a short time. He finally flipped tails. And so it goes. . .

The best advice I can give people is to learn marketable skills and get a real job. Learn computer programming. Become a dentist. Become a brick layer. You can make good money at all these jobs. You just aren't going to make middle management big bucks or ever be CEO. But that should seem as tragic to you as realizing you are never going to be a movie star or win the lottery. So what? I like what Taleb had to say about this:

Hard work will get you a professorship or a BMW. You need both work and luck for a Booker, a Nobel or a private jet.

The reality is that a really good lifestyle is within the grasp of anyone willing to work for it. But we eschew this good lifestyle because we are taught to covet the grand lifestyle of the lucky coin flippers. We ride in first class and curse because we don't own the plane. This is why I always go back to my essay The Definition of Rich to help assuage my grief over this gross injustice.

The corporate ladder is a crapshoot, and the best way to win the game is to not play the game. At Hell Inc, my embattled hub manager resorted to playing Jock Jams over the PA as a way to motivate workers. It was really pathetic. But the reality was not that the workers were lazy, but that brass didn't want to pay a million bucks to upgrade the sortation system that was a bottleneck to the operation. There was plenty of gas, but the fuel line was broken. But it is cheaper to replace a manager and his replacement than to face reality and replace million dollar hardware. Those guys flipped tails. Whoever got the windfall of the new hardware flipped heads and was promptly declared a "genius" and given a promotion. And so it goes. . .

If all of this sounds like a demotivator for your career, it is. My readings and my experience have taught me that the best way to live your life is to expend tremendous effort pursuing modest goals. This is because the fabulous goals depend on luck which you can't control. This means becoming an accountant instead of a CEO. This means getting a real black belt instead of a Six Sigma Black Belt. This means going to dentistry school instead of business school. The certain path to good trumps the dubious path to great.

Will on Afghanistan and Iraq

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/03/AR2009090301866.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/31/AR2009083102912.html

George F. Will threw down the gauntlet to the neocons this week calling for withdrawal from both Afghanistan and Iraq. This is monumental for the GOP because it marks something that needs to happen. The neocons need to get the fuck out of the party. They don't belong.

The Bush presidency failed precisely as a result of neocon foreign policy. The invasion of Iraq was a colossal waste and unnecessary and founded upon lies. Afghanistan is another quagmire but at least it was low cost relative to Iraq. The Obama administration aims to end that with a buildup there. This is a mistake.

Obama won precisely because people believed he would end these wars. So far, he has turned out to be a complete fucking liar. Lefties need to put some pressure on their shit-for-brains president and tell him to end the wars. They won't because neoconservatism is fundamentally a statist viewpoint, and statists believe despite the evidence that they can change and reshape the world according to their vision.

It is time for Obama to show some real leadership and intelligence and do the smart thing. He will have my support, and I will defend the decision. All the Ron Paul people will as well. And George F. Will has given the greenlight. Families seeing their loved ones come home will be grateful. And the end of war would go a long way to erasing the deficit. The time has come. It is time for peace.

Entrepreneurial Risk

People want advice on how to get rich –and pay for it. Now how not to go bust does not appear to be valid advice –yet given that over time only a minority of companies do not go bust, avoiding death is the best possible –and most robust --advice.
NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB

95% of all businesses fail. That is a staggering statistic and a disheartening one. The upside is that the winners make up for the losses or else investing in index funds would never be profitable.

I am trying to come to peace with the inescapable conclusion that becoming an entrepreneur is a sucker's game. You won't hear this from the winners. They believe their own myth that they did it all on their own. They had an idea and pursued it diligently and fought the good fight and won, and you can win, too. But economics is not just about the seen but the unseen, and I see the wreckage of all the losers. Taking a sizable chunk of capital and putting it all in the single basket of a start up venture is the height of stupidity. You would be better to wage it on a single hand of blackjack.

Winning in business is largely a matter of luck. Getting a good job is relatively easy. You only need one satisfied customer. Starting a good business is hard because you need multiple customers. The customer is always right, and they are not always going to recognize the genius of your business no matter how much sense it makes to you.

I find this depressing because I am someone who would love to be an entrepreneur because of the freedom it brings. But my rational mind knows better. Give me a million bucks, and I am going to diversify into the index funds I invest in now along with gold and treasuries. Starting your own business might be fun, but it is rarely going to be successful. I totally agree with this quotation from TJ:

I'm gradually coming to suspect that entrepreneurship is for suckers - if you really want to become happy, it's best to get a well-paying and reliable job that you enjoy.

Or better yet, rather than be a hacker, be a backer. Taleb mentions somewhere in The Black Swan that investors in companies make more money overall than individual entrepreneurs.


Between entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, the VC people are the smart ones. It's OK to invest in start ups as long as you diversify. This is what venture capital does. Most of their investments will be losers, but the returns from the winners are so big they make up for the losses of the rest.

I am making my peace with the fact that I should just focus on getting a better job and investing the money in my portfolio and leave the entrepreneurship to the suckers. I know a successful entrepreneur. She is also a gambling addict dropping big money on lottery tickets and the Indian casino. The one thing all successful entrepreneurs have in common is a naive faith in their control over things they can't control. They mistake luck for skill, and they have a large appetite for risk. Successful entrepreneurs win big, but the vast majority of people who start businesses are failures and end up worse off than if they had simply kept their jobs and invested their money. I collect anecdotes of failed entrepreneurs, and they are not unlike the stories of alcoholics, drug addicts, and gambling addicts. I know of one guy who toiled on his business for 40 years and died flat broke. That was really dumb.

I admire the ones who make it, but I don't envy them much the same way I don't envy people who survived a shark attack. I see them as lucky not to be fish food. As much as I would love to own and run my own business, I know it isn't for me. I will have to settle for pouring my creative efforts into writing this blog and maybe learning some new skills.
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NOTES

1. http://tj-place.blogspot.com/2009/01/nassim-nicholas-taleb-and-felix-dennis.html

2. http://www.edge.org/q2009/q09_10.html#taleb
It is sad when a lifelong smoker fools himself with the good intention of quitting.
ABD- Always Be Doing- is still the way to get things done.

How to Get Your Shit Together

I talk to a lot of people, and I hear the same thing over and over again. They are having problems with a spouse or a boyfriend or they are tight on money or they want to quit smoking or lose weight blah blah fucking blah. Right now, you, Gentle Reader, have some issue in your own life you wish to resolve. Why would you be reading an essay called "How to Get Your Shit Together?"

Getting you shit together is easy as hell. Really. This is because most problems people have are the same identical problems everyone else struggles with. There is nothing new under the sun. Their real problem isn't the problem but the lack of a solution that doesn't require work, discipline, and virtue. Losing weight is not hard. It is the hunger that goes with losing weight that is hard.

This is the last essay of advice you will ever need to read. You can save all that money on self-help books and seminars and all the rest because all the answers you will ever need are right here, and they are FREE. If you are not satisfied, I can offer you a 100% money back guarantee. Let's dish the advice.

1. Stop smoking, drinking, and using drugs.

Hell, I probably solved 90% of the world's problems right there. Give up these three habits, and you will be first class among People Who Have Their Shit Together. It will amaze you how much better you feel, how much money you have, and how much better your life will go if you give up booze, cigarettes, and the crack pipe. Some will say "moderation in all things," but I've never seen those people exercise any moderation when they say that. It is just a cop-out to keep doing what they are doing.

2. Get a job.

This advice alone probably solved about 6% of the rest of the problems in this country. Having a job means an income, a place to stay, social involvement, daily exercise, etc. People will claim that times are hard, but this is bullshit. There is always a job because there is always work to be done. When people say they can't find a job, what they really mean is they still have three months of unemployment left to collect, or they don't want to take some "menial" job that involves serving food or cutting grass. I'd be more ashamed of being a bum than being a burger flipper or a landscaper. Quit your excuse making and get a fucking job.

3. Spend less than you earn.

Cut up those credit cards and quit eating out. Pay off your debts. Open a savings account and put money in it. Simple math. Put away $100 a week, and you will have $5200 saved in a year. This will fully fund your IRA for the year and give you a big chunk left over. Bank your tax refund as well, and your money problems are over.

4. Eat healthy and exercise.

This is the one most people can't get straight in their lives. This is because we are programmed by biology to amass calories and conserve energy. Nature works. The answer is to stop eating high fat and high sugar foods. Eating healthy will not leave you hungry. Fad diets will. Just skip McDonald's and go to Subway. Have fruit instead of ice cream and cheesecake. As for exercise, walk for an hour per day. Last time I checked, this was free. The pounds will just drop off. You will have more energy. You don't need to eat like an Ethiopian or complete an Ironman to be healthy and in shape. Marginal changes in this area will produce massive results.

5. Dispose, clean, and organize.

Got a closet full of shit? Empty it. Desk full of clutter? Get a Hefty bag and throw that shit away. Storage rental full of shit you can't throw away? Rent a truck and haul it off to the dump. If you don't need it, then you don't need it.

6. Dump your piece of shit significant other.

Even if you get your shit together, other people in your life will cause you grief, and this is usually the person you share a bed with. Drug abuse can break up a relationship as well as money problems. Even becoming a runner can do this. If you have your shit together, you can't be with a person who doesn't have their shit together. It doesn't work. The disharmony will cause the whole thing to fly to pieces, and I can tell you from personal experience that you can't get someone else's shit together for them. They can tear your shit apart and almost certainly will if you stay with them. Get rid of them. Having your shit together and being alone is better than living in the shit with a fuck up.

That's it, folks. Five pieces of solid time tested advice. It is all very uncomplicated and basic. Your life won't be perfect because shit happens. But no one will ever say that it was your own damn fault, and that means a whole lot. As for me, I'm still getting my shit together. I'm sure you are, too.

A Radical Idea



The other day while writing a post for the C-Blog, I had a radical idea. It came to me while writing about Tim Ferris and his concepts of work and leisure. It had to do with workaholism and slack. The idea was a simple one but a profound one. It was this. You should pursue your leisure activities with the same dedication as your work.

I felt the earth move a bit when it hit me, but it makes a lot of sense. I am someone who believes in work and loves to work. It is like play to me. But play time is good, too. What is the difference between work and play? The answer to that is that work comes with a paycheck attached to it. Work is something we do for others while play is something we do for ourselves.

Leisure is important, but I don't want to denigrate work to elevate leisure or vice versa. I have been guilty in the past of shitting on leisure pursuits as a waste of time, but I have changed my mind since then. Seeing hard work and play as opposed leads to imbalance. Aristotle would be ashamed.

What has made me change my mind on this are examples of men who lead dual lives of both work and leisure. The first example is Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, who runs the company. The man is a rock climber, surfer, fly fisherman, etc. His business grew out of the sports he loved and also helped support him in the pursuit of those sports.

The second example is Jimmy Buffett, another surfer, sailboater, pilot, and musician. People will claim that Buffett is the epitome of laidback, but the guy works pretty hard putting out albums, performing shows, and seeing over his various businesses.

The third example is Eugene Fama, an academic and a principal at Dimensional Fund Advisors and an ardent windsurfer.

The fourth example is Dean Karnazes who is a full time businessman, ultrarunner, and windsurfer who owns his own company.

I can go on and on with these examples. There is a certain common thread in all of these men. They are entrepreneurs which gives them some flexibility with their schedule. And they avidly pursue these lesiure activities of theirs. Their leisure pursuits are as important to them as their work. Talk about a flourishing lifestyle.

These men capture in real life the essence of what Aristotle called "the great souled man" or the megalopsuchos. They are not lazy but robust in their living. They work hard, but they play hard as well. They are Renaissance Men of a sort. They are not quite on Leonardo's level, but Leonardo couldn't surf. I think this balances out.

The conventional wisdom is that you work forty to sixty hours a week, play a round of golf on the weekend, and take your two weeks of vacation or what have you. I find this pathetic. I like the idea of catching a few waves before the beginning of the workday, squeezing in a run during your lunch hour, or scheduling a day of rock climbing. This is not weekend warrior bullshit I am talking about. I am talking about a full incorporation of work and leisure in a balanced but robust lifestyle. If a 71-year-old can run a company and surf, I don't see why anyone else can't do the same thing.

I know no one in the ordinary world that lives this way. Most of the people I know work and buy shit to collect dust in the garage while they watch football on TV. Or you have someone like me who lives to work but literally will not move on weekends or days off. I write and sleep. That is it. I can hear my inner Aristotle saying, "Pathetic."

All work and no play make Johnny a dull boy. The problem is not lack of time or money but a lack of robustness. I have been getting stale lately, and this really needs to change. The reason they call it recreation is because you are "re-created" each time you get outside. The other cool thing is that you are your own boss in these endeavors.

You should pursue leisure with the same dedication as work. I don't think this means 40 hours of surfing to go with 40 hours of work. But it does mean seeing these activities as being indispensable to your life. The problem is we see these as optional. My radical idea is that they are essential to a robust and happy way of living.