Saturday, May 02, 2015

Letting People Know You Appreciate Them

Thoughts on: Some Things Are Better Off Left Unsaid Or Unwritten

I think there are many things that we are all better off went unsaid. But there are times that people are too reluctant to speak.

I wrote about what happened after my father died on one of my blogs: I was constantly being told how thankful people were for how he treated them and what he did for them. This didn't happen for 1 or 2 months or even 1 or 2 years it went on for a long time.

It is true he was special but I also think many of those people didn't speak up directly to him (though some certainly did). We often are reluctant to directly tell people how thankfully we are for what they did. We would all benefit from people sharing those thoughts more readily.

Related: Acting Considerately - Helping Employees Improve - Appeasing Rude Selfish People Just Makes them Behave Even More Selfishly - Practicing Respect for People Requires Understanding Psychology

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Buying Freedom by Buying Less Stuff

Comment on: Less Is More: Is All Your "Stuff" The Reason You Can't Travel? I really think the idea you captured with

"debt is a good motivator for two things: First, you will work hard; And secondly, you probably won’t leave."

is an important lesson for people. I know travel isn't for everyone, though I enjoy it. And if "3 snowboards" makes someone happy when they understand all the implications for their life, that is fine with me.

What makes me sad is too few people understand the impact the choices they make has on their life.

Related: Too Much Stuff (2007) - Freelance Lifestyle, Finance and Entreprenuership Blog (design your life) - Trying to Keep up with the Joneses (2008) - Can I Afford That?

Monday, April 06, 2015

Selling Out the Country - We are Electing the Wrong People to Control Our Government

Sadly the corruption of the USA political parties has been growing dramatically the last few decades. It is true they have always had a fair amount of corruption and a bit longer ago they were even more corrupt. But the ethics that had been growing that corruption was bad and should be reduced has been decimated by the leadership of both parties the last few decades.

Warren Buffet provided more comments about the damage being done to the country by this corruption.
With Citizens United and other decisions that enable the rich to contribute really unlimited amounts, that actually tilts the balance even more toward the ultra-rich…The unlimited giving to parties, to candidates, really pushes us more toward a plutocracy. They say it’s free speech, but somebody can speak 20 or 30 million times and my cleaning lady can’t speak at all.
I am very frustrated by us continuing to elect people that sell out the country for their person gains (both as politicians and even more importantly staff). The politicians couldn't sell out the country if their staff were not also bought and paid for (normally most completely by the revolving door of huge salaries on completion of selling out the country for the benefit of those paying you huge salaries). The advertising cash for politicians is important but less so than the ability to corrupt the staff.

The corruption, corrupts the entire process. If the parties and staff cared about the country they would not go along with much of the selling out of the country. The differences on tactics to benefit the country would still be in conflict. But if we had patriots in positions of power they couldn't be paid to sell out the country in this instance and then we will let you sell out the country in this other instance to earn your pay (from those corrupting them).

There really is little to do about it until the political scene is much different. As long as the parties are lead by people happy to sell out the country and we continue to elect them things won't change. The process of changing that is difficult. There is a system that re-inforces this corrupt systems continuation. With so much of the power structure so corrupt you can't do much with the few crumbs around the edges that are not interested in selling out the country for personal gain.

And when the public accepts absolutely pitiful journalism and doesn't pay attention to the few worthwhile efforts to look at what is going on it is hard to have people learn about the deeply embedded corruption. The parties play a game of distraction between themselves which when the journalists and public allow to set the conditions for discussion puts the issue of embedded corruption across the board of the political establishment off the table.

To some extent the embarrassing details of the extent of some corruption can be used pressure to reduce the level (not change the system) of corruption. I have a pipe dream that the continued evidence of such wide spread and thorough corruption finally seeping into the understanding of the public, but I really don't believe this will happen - I just hope it does. For now the only real hope is limited the scale of corruption by publicizing the worst and easiest to understand corruption.

To some extent I look to help shine the light on the corruption of the political process (mostly in the USA) on the cash for votes subreddit. I would have thought things like the absolutely horrid practices of Comcast, At&T, Verizon... would at least stop the political parties from acting in the same corrupt way they do with everything for those organization that have actively caused so much pain to so many in the USA. It is a sign of how bad the corruption is that even those companies easily buy majorities of both parties who happily profess that those companies are deserving of favors. When such obvious sell out are so widespread you can be certain the level of other corruption is beyond comprehension.

The damage this does to the USA is enormous.

The current political parties are selling out the country, it isn't quite as noticeable as if they attempted to auction off the Louisiana Purchase for the benefit of themselves, their staffs and their friends but it is doing as much damage as that would do.

Related: The Aim of Modern Day Political Parties is To Scare Donors Into Giving Cash - Reducing Corruption - Research by Princeton and Northwestern Professors Shows USA Political System Very Focused on Doing What Rich Want Done - Lobbyists Keep Tax Off Billion Dollar Private Equities Deals and On For Our Grandchildren - Monopolies and Oligopolies do not a Free Market Make - Anti-Market Policies from Our Talking Head and Political Class

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Frank Kaminsky - College Basketball Player of the Year

Frank Kaminsky is in what is widely seen as a two way race for College Basketball Player of the Year.

Response to: Is Okafor or Kaminsky leading the Player of the Year race right now?

I don't remember many people caring about defense when Kevin Durant and Doug McDermott won their National Player of the Year awards, and freaking James Harden is maybe about to win MVP of the NBA. So let's stop trying to redefine things now.
I think the reason people point out Okafor's defensive weakness in POY discussions is because there are 2 players that are very close offensively but one is much better defensively. That becomes an important point. It isn't that defense never matters for POY or MVP it just usually isn't so relevant.

Kevin Durant and Doug McDermott outclassed everyone else so if they were not great on defense it didn't matter they still were by far the best players.

Okafor is very good. It seems to me Kaminsky is the leading candidate by a large margin, due to his defensive prowess and offensive versatility. The issue is debatable but it doesn't seem close to me. Even if they were defensively equal it seems to me Kaminsky is deserving, though then it becomes more debatable, how valuable is a dominate post player compared to a dominate post player that also is a three point threat and great passer and ball handler. But add it the defensive part of the game and it widens the gap between them quite a bit.

Not being able to shoot free throws also matters. Okafor is still a great player but when he shoots 54% on free throws that is another strike against him (Kaminsky is making 75% - Kaminsky can be used in late game situations to handle the ball even if he will be fouled). It doesn't mean he isn't great but when another candidate for player of the year is so close in many ways but has several significant additional strengths these add up to make a big difference in finding the absolute best player of the year.

I am a Wisconsin fan so it could be my bias, I understand, but when you watch him play over the long term you appreciate how good Frank Kaminsky is all game long, every game.

Related: Universities Again Abandon Fans/Mission to Increase Pay to Administrative Staff/Coaches - Systems Thinking: The Later You Are Picked The Better Off You Are - Davidson Students Get Free Sweet Sixteen Trip

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Being Your Own Boss

One of the great things about being your own boss is you get to mold the work to your preferences. Now you still have to deliver, so unless you are one in a billion or so you likely are going to have to work hard and be smart but you decided exactly how.

Work early, work late, work in your room, work in a co-working space, work on the beach, work with music, work 5 hours 7 days a week, work 12 hours 10 days a month and play the rest... you get to decide.

For your business to work the customers must be happy. So for some businesses, for example, working 10 days a month won't work well but it is all up to you. Which is mainly great, but also can be a bit frustrating.

I find many people end up putting in more hours than they used to complain about their boss making them work. If that is because they love what they do, fine, but often it is just because when many people see how much it costs to take time off they don't want to. I find this funny because they are doing to themselves exactly what they said their former company was doing - prioritizing money over life.

Response to: Not a Morning Person but Need to Run a Business? We Understand

Related: Freelance Lifestyle, Finance and Entreprenuership Blog - Work and Life - Digital nomad and blogging related interviews with John Hunter

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Taking Care with Personal Finance - Avoiding Debt

Not all debt a person takes on is bad. But most personal debt should be avoided or reduced in amount.

Some debt makes a fair amount of sense - borrowing for college, a new house, perhaps a car, perhaps setting up your life after college. But those expenses should be reduced.

College is actually still a good investment according to many studies: The Time to Payback the Investment in a College Education in the USA Today is Nearly as Low as Ever – Surprisingly, Looking at the Value of Different College Degrees, Engineering Graduates Earned a Return on Their Investment In Education of 21%. But that doesn't mean huge debt for college is wise. Being careful to find cost friendly good schools is wise.

The same advice holds for a new car, house, etc. - an evaluation of your situation may show taking on debt is sensible but if so keep the debt level low. Credit card debt should not be taken on. If you want to buy new things, save up the money and pay.

One big problem that gets people in trouble is unexpected expense. That is why an emergency fund to pay those expenses is so important. Instead of going into debt, you just use the money you saved for such a situation. Proper insurance is also important (in the USA health insurance is critical - in most other rich countries health insurance is largely taken care of).

If you get into to much debt and then can't pay off your debts things become dangerous. Companies like Intelligent Banking Solutions provide those holding debt technology based solutions that will allow them to collect the money they are owed. Quickly realizing your situation and contacting those places you owe money to, to work something out may not be easy but it is your wisest course of action.

Most companies owed debt are going to be reasonable and not be obnoxious. But if they are obnoxious (or you just want help) find free debt counseling - this can be tricky and various companies seek to take advantage of people in trouble and setup companies that pretend to help those in debt (even setting them up as non-profits etc.). You have to be careful to find a reputable organization to help with your debt problems but doing so is possible and they will help a great deal.

Once you get your finances cleaned up, which is likely going to be a long process, put your finances in order to make sure you don't get back into the same mess again.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Archiving Digital Data

My comments in response to Maintaining Your Digital Presence Is More Than Updating Your Status

This is an important topic and well suited to the Smithsonian :-) Many people don't realize how ephemeral are digital media is. It is much easier to view photos from the 1970s than images from the 1990s (that are probably locked on some hard drive or floppy disk or zip disk [remember those].

Web sites close down and go out of business. Trusting them with your history is unwise. Sharing it there is fine but you can't rely it will be their for your kids. The internet archive (wayback machine) is pretty awesome and seems likely to survive but...

The issue which most quickly causes problems is changing tech standards. But tech media are also unreliable for long term (hard drives... are not nearly as long lasting as high quality paper). Certain archival DVDs (gold plated) do last a while hopefully but even then paper last longer. It seems rewriting electronic data from one place to another is fairly good, but it is not perfect (basically you keep moving so avoid one drive failing after 10 years).

Dealing with electronic records is obviously going to be a big job for places like the Smithsonian going forward.

Related: Photo Management and Web Gallery Creation Software - Don't Lock Your Content Inside a Proprietary System - Internet Archive of this site from 2006 (sadly the next record they have is 2011 for some reason. To some extent I think they maintain more copies of popular sites, but even so most of my sites have several captures a year) - Curiouscat.com backups on the wayback machine from 1997 to today