Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Economic Models: Caveat Utilitor!

The Australia Institute has released a very nice report by Richard Denniss titled, The use and abuse of economic modelling in Australia: Users' guide to Tricks of the Trade (PDF).  The essay illustrates its critique with several recent cases related to claims about jobs in the mining industry, the poker machine industry and as a consequence of the carbon tax.

Here is an excerpt:
Economic modelling has, for many people involved in Australian policy debates, become synonymous with the process of serious policy development. Proponents of policy change that are armed with economic modeling are often taken more seriously than those with 20 years experience working on the same problem. The modelling result that suggests tens of thousands of jobs will be lost or created often trumps logic or experience that suggests such claims are nonsensical.

This is not to suggest that modelling has no role to play in policy debates. It can and it does often make a useful contribution, but the fact that it sometimes can should not be confused with the conclusion that it always will. Indeed, in recent times some of the claims based on 'economic modelling' that has been made in debates such as the likely impact of poker machine reform or the introduction of a carbon price can only be described as nonsense.

The problem has become, however, that in an era in which segments of the media no longer have the time or inclination to examine claims before they are reported bad economic modelling is preferred by many advocacy and industry groups to good economic modelling for three main reasons:

1. it is cheaper
2. it is quicker
3. it is far more likely to yield the result preferred by the client

That said, bad economic modelling is relatively easy to identify if readers are willing to ask themselves, and the modeller, a range of simple questions. Indeed, it is even easier to spot when the modeler can't, or won't, answer such simple questions.
Economic models, like all models, can be very useful. But they can also be used in ways that are misleading or just plain wrong. Denniss provides some good advice for recognizing the difference.


1. Mitt will say anything to get elected. Newt will say everything to get elected.

2. Mitt owns Florida. This is because he bought it.

3. It is said that Heidi Klum fell for Seal after seeing his gigantic dick in a pair of bicycle shorts. True love.

4. I wish I had my own Super PAC. I would have a lot of fun with that.

5. The Cinnamon Challenge:

6. My state wants Amazon shoppers to pay their fucking sales taxes on purchases. They can suck on it.

7. No, I am not going to take the Cinnamon Challenge. Don't ask again.

8. I'm not into making fun of a candidate's looks or the looks of his wife. I make an exception for Callista Gingrich.

9. That hair is oddly familiar.

10. I wonder if Callista fell for Newt after seeing him in a pair of bicycle shorts. I'm trying to get that image out of my mind. I think I'll go take the Cinnamon Challenge now.

Wellington Sevens Biggest Con job to hit New Zealand Sport

For 12 straight years the NZRFU and the New Zealand
media have pulled a con job on the New Zealand public.

For 12 straight years they have done this and not one
Journo has had the integrity to call them up on it.

It is a brilliant but repugnant piece of viral marketing,
the partners in crime are  Sky Television, The Media,
The brewery companies, TVNZ,  Radio Sport and
the NZRFU.

As you watch the Wellington Sevens you will notice
normal kiwis dressed up, drinking beer and having
a good time.

You will also notice their is a lot of attractive people
going to the game together,  drinking beer, dancing,
playing up for the camera, while TV Journalists laugh
and cheer them on.

What these Journos like Andrew Saville won't tell you,
is those good looking people the media keeps showing
you, on the internet, in print and on television are actually
Models that are paid to be there to give the event a
hot glamorous look.

The NZRFU along with the breweries companies are in
on this.

They wont tell the public they are paid models, the media
will go along with the lie that they are every day fans who
love their rugby, while the every day fan misses out on

This is a disgusting piece of viral marketing, to hire good
looking people to act as fans is well pathetic more than

Too bad the media wont say a word, the likes of Brendan
Telfer and Andrew Saville should be ashamed, 12 years
of lies.

Will there be one Journo who will write about this?

I doubt it, you need to have integrity  to do the right
(Update, I should add, what I have written is
my theory and  three years ago a writer for the
Sunday Star Times emailed me and confirmed it, but he
never published it in their paper)

Examining pros and cons of NFL clean zones as lawsuit nears trial

I have a new SI column on the Super Bowl and the controversial concept of "clean zones", which grant the NFL legal rights to control commercial activity in streets around the Super Bowl. Here's an excerpt:

* * *
Clean zones raise a bevy of concerns.

For one, clean zones unabashedly limit competition when businesses are denied permission from the league or city. A decrease in competition implicates two core worries of antitrust law: fewer choices and higher prices for consumers. So perhaps instead of two dozen T-shirt street vendors around Lucas Oil Stadium, the NFL only grants permission to a handful. Although they would still compete with vendors of other items, the licensed vendors might charge more and offer less variety.

Second, clean zones restrict commercial speech, meaning speech that solicits a commercial transaction, such as when a company advertises or promotes a product. To be sure, commercial speech is accorded much less protection under the law than political speech. While the First Amendment aggressively protects one's right to express personal opinions from government suppression, a government, such as the City of Indianapolis, can readily limit commercial speech that is deceptive and misleading.
* * *
Eric Williams v. NFL: A Clean Zone Test Case

Last year anti-bullying advocate Eric Williams teamed up with Best Buy on what seemed like a promising idea: Williams would park his bus in Best Buy's parking lot near Cowboys Stadium between Feb. 4 and Feb. 6 and host a John Madden video game tournament. Williams would charge participants of the tournament, which would teach children about how to detect and stop bullying.

The tournament never happened.

Arlington police and code enforcement officers asked Williams if he had a permit to be there. He did not and saw no reason why he should. After all, his bus was on Best Buy's private property, with the store's express invitation. The security officers nonetheless insisted that Williams move the bus, since it was a commercial operation located within a clean zone ordinance.

To read the rest, click here.

14 Months Without a Car

House of Talents Basket
We have been without a car since last December. The "anniversary" of this date was so unremarkable, that it came and went unnoticed. But I've had some requests to post a 1-year report about what it has been like, which made me realise it's already been longer than that. I want to make it clear that being without a car is not a political statement for us and is not wrapped up in our sense of identity. For that reason I do not use words such as "car-free" or "car-light," or any of the related terminology. We simply do not have a car, for the time being.

Winter in the Neighborhood
Living on the border of Somerville and Cambridge, MA, we are lucky to be in a location that happens to be convenient for getting around the Boston Metro area by bike. Before moving here 4 years ago, we lived in rural Northern New England - where we did a great deal of driving and each had a substantial vehicle with off-road and hauling capacity. As soon as we moved to Boston, we sold the larger of the two, because it was clear that keeping both was impractical. The Co-Habitant's car was sold, and mine was to become the shared car. However, what happened instead is that I simply stopped driving at that point entirely, preferring to get around on foot and via public transportation. When later I started riding a bike, that became my main mode of transport. I have not been behind the wheel of a motor vehicle since late 2007, and I even let my driver's license lapse for some time. But I still co-owned our shared car, and rode in it as passenger.

We used the shared car mainly to travel out of town and for trips that involved transporting or purchasing bulky items. The majority of everyday transportation we did by bike, simply because both of us found it more convenient. When the car broke down in late November 2010, we realised that we did not really feel like getting it fixed and preferred to make do without it instead. So that is what we did.

Snow Bike Launch
The winter of 2010-2011 was a brutal one, and interestingly getting through it was what cemented our decision. It snowed so much and so frequently, that we often relied on resources close to home - which made us realise that it is possible. If there was too much snow on the roads to cycle, there was a grocery store and pharmacy within walking distance. They may not be our preferred grocery store and pharmacy, but nonetheless they are there for us to simply walk to in case we needed milk at 10pm in a snowstorm. Further afield there are coffee shops, restaurants, a post office, and other destinations that could be reached on foot. The Co-Habitant could even walk to work if really necessary, though he had no problem cycling through snow. I could also walk or take public transportation. If anything, we felt that we had it easier that winter than drivers - who constantly complained about having to dig out and defrost their cars, and about the horrible driving conditions. A bike and a pair of winter boots require much less maintenance.

EMS Thunderhead Rain Jacket and Pants
Once that winter was over, everything else was a piece of cake. Owning a car in Boston now seemed like a burden and inconvenience. How did we ever manage with all those fees and maintenance responsibilities? Not owning a car was so much easier, not to mention that we now magically had more money. And that's really all there was to it, as far as everyday stuff was concerned.

Gazelle & Zipcar
That is not to say that we never used a car. We still occasionally needed to travel to remote out of town locations and to transport bulky items. And, ironically, I occasionally had to transport bikes in various states of assembly for Lovely Bicycle related projects. But the key word here is "occasionally." Once we got the hang of zipcar and car rental, using these services in addition to the occasional taxi proved to be sufficient for us to not feel that we needed to actually own a car. The main limitation of zipcar, is that you cannot always get one on the spot, and we tend to do things spontaneously rather than plan everything out carefully. But over time we got better at planning and also became more savvy/psychic about zipcar rental. After a couple of initial glitches, it has mostly been okay. I even moved into my art studio with the help of a zipcar pickup truck, which went very well with fairly minimal planning.

West Newton Commuter Rail Station
Our only frustration so far has been with the public transportation system. Without exaggeration, the T (subway) has gotten stuck between stations most of the times I've taken it over the past year, making me late for appointments. The buses are habitually late by as much as 20 minutes, to the point that the bus timetable is not meaningful. The buses are also very full and taking fragile items on board is not practical. The commuter rail runs infrequently and not at the times we seem to need it, so that going somewhere via commuter rail can mean having to spend an entire day at the destination instead of the 1.5 hours we need to spend there. Also, many of the commuter rail stops are not handicap-accessible - which also means not bike-friendly, since they have these super long and narrow staircases leading down to the platform from overpasses. Whenever I criticise the MBTA, inevitably someone gets angry, as if public transportation is some holy thing no matter how good or bad it is and I should be thankful for it. But with all due respect, having used public transportation successfully in cities where it works, the MBTA is a disgrace in comparison. I cannot pretend to be thankful for the frustration and wasted time it causes me nearly every time I attempt to use it, and I am certain that it is the reason why more people in the greater Boston area do not feel comfortable without a car. 

Bike Travel!
MBTA frustrations aside, we did manage to go on a 2-week vacation via bike plus commuter rail over the summer, and it was a lot more fun than renting a car would have been. No traffic jams, no gas station stops, no looking for parking - just the freedom of bikes. We brought all the stuff we would normally have taken with us too, including two weeks worth of clothing, books, laptops, and basic camera equipment. It's amazing how much you can stuff into heavy-duty bicycle luggage if you try. 

Gazelle & Pashley with Philosophy Panniers
When we first discussed the idea of giving up the car, it was important for both of us not to feel as if being without it would be a struggle, or would limit our freedom. And over a year later, I can say that at no point did we feel that way. At this stage of our lives not having a car gives us more freedom, not less. We do not miss the responsibilities and the spendings that come with owning, parking, fueling and maintaining a vehicle in the Boston Metro area. We also simply never talk about it anymore. We neither lament our carless state, nor do we congratulate ourselves for it; it's just become one less issue to worry about. 

Charles River, Late Autumn
By no means is this narrative intended to be an "if I can do it, you can!" sort of thing. Our circumstances happen to be conducive to getting along without a car, but others' circumstances might not be. There is also no question in my mind that at some point in the future we will have a car again, and I will even drive it - since my ideal place to live is in the countryside in the middle of nowhere. In the end,  it's not about fixating on the car as an object - be it an object of desire or an object of evil - but about deciding what works best for improving your quality of life. Car ownership for its own sake has become such a given, that it may simply not occur to some people that there are circumstances under which they might be better off (i.e. waste less time, be in a better mood, have more disposable income, feel better) without a private vehicle. When I lived in Vienna, I once asked an elderly socialite - the wife of a wealthy politician - whether she and her husband owned a car. She cringed and fanned herself. "Goodness no dear, sitting in traffic is so undignified! I take the trolley and I love to walk. For me, these are life's luxuries." The concept of luxury is, after all, relative.

What is a Job?

People familiar with my work, such as in The Honest Broker and The Climate Fix, will also be familiar with my interest in unpacking issues and problems into comprehensible bits. To that end in the area of innovation I am going to be posting on some definitional issues to simply sort through a number of basic propositions as a matter of clarifying my own thinking and writing.

In this post I am exploring the definition of a "job" -- which is a concept that carries considerable political importance and is a variable that we'd like to modulate via policy, but which typically falls into the category of "too obvious to define precisely."

What is a job?  Let's start with the following definitions related to employment offered  by the US government's Bureau of Labor Statistics (emphasis in the original):
The basic concepts involved in identifying the employed and unemployed are quite simple:
  • People with jobs are employed.
  • People who are jobless, looking for jobs, and available for work are unemployed.
  • People who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force.
The survey is designed so that each person age 16 and over who is neither in an institution (for example, correctional facilities and residential nursing and mental health care facilities) nor on active duty in the Armed Forces is counted and classified in only one group. The sum of the employed and the unemployed constitutes the civilian labor force. Persons not in the labor force combined with those in the civilian labor force constitute the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years and over.
These definitions, which date to 1942 (source), are extremely useful because they clearly define how the government views employment, which is the variable that policy makers seek to modulate when talking about "jobs." But these definitions don't quite get us to a fundamental definition of "jobs."

Here is what the BLS says about jobs:
Not all of the wide range of job situations in the American economy fit neatly into a given category. For example, people are considered employed if they did any work at all for pay or profit during the survey week.
This leads me to the following description of a job:

The defining characteristic of a job is an exchange between and employer and an employee, of wages (or some other compensation) for services (economists like to call such services "labor," defined variously in terms of skills, knowledge, capabilities, etc.). Governments regulate such services in many ways (e.g., some services may be disallowed -- think hit men, drug dealing or prostitution) and the terms of employment are also regulated (e.g., minimum wage, occupational safety, etc.).

All jobs are thus service jobs. With that as a starting point, we are in a position to ask ourselves, in what ways should we categorize and classify jobs in order to help realize the various objectives of public policy? The answer to this question is not obvious, and it is not clear to me that the official government categories are necessarily the most useful or helpful for thinking about policies related to jobs -- recent discussions here related to "manufacturing" are one example.

Low rep LC training

LC 2x20kg: 5
LC 2x24kg: 5
LC 2x28kg: 5
LC 2x30kg: 6
LC 2x32kg: 3x 3reps
LC 2x30kg: 3 - lousy lock-outs so I quit

SC Jerk 2x28kg: 10
Push-ups w band: 3x 10reps

Not a bad session for being me, but I felt volume was a bit low. But, I did not have more good work in me; perhaps because of Sunday's training.

Wild Bill called the below video to my attention:
I like Merkulin's style in jerk. It is "clear and clean" with the different stages visible. He stays a comparatively long time at the bottom of the second dip. Nice video, over 20 minutes from different angles.

The Power of Initiative

SAVE THE DATE! Feb 24-25, 2012
FREE Character Building Clinic hosted by SportsLeader for Coaches and Captains

One of the athletes we are honoring this year at our SportsLeader Awards Night on Feb 24th is Joseph Fisher. Joseph is a remarkable young man who is truly an example of initiative - coming up with an idea on his own, following through and getting it done - all at the age of 12, 13 ...

Joseph is currently an 8th grader at St Agnes school in Louisville, KY. He played football for the past two seasons for Coach Paul Passafiume, Co-Founder of SportsLeader. He credits the SportsLeader Program as a big part of the success of his team. His team won the Toy Bowl in 2009 and 2010.

Joseph is consistently a 4.0 student, is a member of the Student Council, and the Kentucky Youth Assembly. 

Joseph is a volunteer at the Nazareth Home and created a group known as "Fifth Down Equipment Locker" where he collects used football equipment and donates to underprivileged football teams. He looks forward to attending St. X and playing for the Tigers.

In the past two years he has helped collect over 350 pieces of football equipment.

Joseph and teammate Colin delivered this season's collection to the Louisville Broncos of the Louisville Metro Youth Football League. The Broncos are a 1st year team and are led by Coach McAdory. Coach "Mac" was proud to announce that this year's team made it all the way to the Semi-Finals. Joseph and Colin shared the SportsLeader virtues of Charity, Humility and Determination. 

Coach "Mac" expressed his extreme gratitude and promised the equipment would go to good use and that it will help to include some who may not be able to participate otherwise. 

If you'd like to check out Joseph's work please visit his web site at: 


5TH Down Equipment Locker is a program to provide used equipment for football players of need. It is called 5th down because like a 5th down on the football field it gives us all another opportunity. 

In giving, we practice generosity. Not everyone has been blessed the way we have. We also display leadership by setting an example for others. When others witness the joy we receive in giving, it will inspire them to do the same. 

The person getting the equipment gets the opportunity to play football and experience the fellowship and camaraderie that we all know it brings. 

Here is how it works:

We will collect your used equipment (equipment you own). Please clean any equipment before you bring it in. We need anything you can spare: cleats, pads, pants practice jerseys, gloves, helmets, etc… you get the idea. Once we have the equipment gathered we will get representatives of our team to deliver them.

Please give freely. There are plenty of kids in our community that can’t play because of the cost of equipment. Let’s share the opportunity of playing football with them and make a difference in someone’s life.

We encourage others to follow Joe’s footsteps. If you would like to participate here in the Louisville area please contact us at flyingdfish@yahoo.com

We can help you organize your local collection and get you in touch with needy teams. We would also like to help you if you want to start one up in your local community.

Leadership and The First Follower

Tom Ryan, head wrestling coach at Ohio State, recently shared these lessons with his team and I thought it looked really interesting.

I've seen this play out time and time again as we've tried to introduce virtue into schools ... many times there might be ONE person ... and getting that first follower and the second is very challenging.

Our society urgently needs more virtuous leaders and followers. It's not an option - it's an urgency.

Leadership and The First Follower
By Derek Sivers

If you've learned a lot about leadership and making a movement, then let's watch a movement happen, start to finish, in under 3 minutes, and dissect some lessons:

A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he's doing is so simple, it's almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!

Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it's not about the leader anymore - it's about them, plural. Notice he's calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.

The 2nd follower is a turning point: it's proof the first has done well. Now it's not a lone nut, and it's not two nuts. Three is a crowd and a crowd is news.

A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers, because new followers emulate followers - not the leader.

Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we've got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we've got a movement!

As more people jump in, it's no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there's no reason not to join now. They won't be ridiculed, they won't stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry. Over the next minute you'll see the rest who prefer to be part of the crowd, because eventually they'd be ridiculed for not joining.

And ladies and gentlemen that is how a movement is made! Let's recap what we learned:

If you are a version of the shirtless dancing guy, all alone, remember the importance of nurturing your first few followers as equals, making everything clearly about the movement, not you.

Be public. Be easy to follow!

But the biggest lesson here - did you catch it?

Leadership is over-glorified.

Yes it started with the shirtless guy, and he'll get all the credit, but you saw what really happened:

It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader.

There is no movement without the first follower.

We're told we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective.

The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.

When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.

Coming up on tonight's Tuesday Night Sports Show - 31/01/12

We’re here every Tuesday at 7pm on 98.7FM in Cardiff and online at www.radiocardiff.orgwith award-winning sporting discussion and debate.

- Coming up on your double award-winning Tuesday Night Sports Show, it’s transfer deadline day so we’ll keep you up-to-date on all the latest movers and shakers before the window slams shut!

- We reflect on last week’s win for Cardiff City against Crystal Palace and assess their chances against Liverpool in the final.

- Yousef will look back at another weekend of dramatic FA Cup action including Liverpool’s win against Manchester United.

- In rugby, the six nations begins this weekend and Wales take on Ireland in Dublin hoping for a repeat of their World Cup quarter final triumph. We also take a look at the other home nations.

- In cricket, England slumped to an humiliating series defeat against Pakistan in the second test; we look at what went wrong.

- Yousef reviews all the latest UFC action and Simon brings us his regular ice hockey update.

Give us a call on: 02920 235 664
Send us a Text: 07728 758 759

Q & A

Q: Do people have free will?

This is one of those deep philosophical questions I don't spend much time thinking about anymore. It is also one of those questions that have made me reject a rationalist epistemology in favor of skeptical empiricism. Whenever you have a dispute like this that has gone for eons unresolved, you are going to find that science succeeds where philosophy fails.

Everything you choose to do in life is the consequence of neurons and chemicals firing in your brain. We like to think that some part of us exists outside of this chain of material cause and effect. This is not the case. A brain injury or disease can change your entire personality. In this respect, determinism reigns.

On the flip side, physics and math demonstrate to us that there is a high degree of variability in spontaneous systems. This would be the study of stochastic processes. This is also why so many things in life made up of small and predictable events can be wildly unpredictable in the aggregate. This unpredictability and apparent randomness is where we get the concept of free will.

As I go along, I find this paradox again and again. It isn't just free will and determinism. Quantum physics throws similar paradoxes at us. What you think is so just ain't so. Or as another wise person put it, the universe is not only stranger than you imagine but also stranger than you can imagine.

The reality is that human beings are animals determined by their biology and programmed to do wildly unpredictable things. There is no conflict in nature but merely a conflict in our understanding of nature. Free will and determinism are rendered meaningless. This is why I don't waste time thinking about them anymore. Neither tells the full story.

The Minimalists on Comments

During the interview Seth talked about a part of his brain that distracted him from his writings when his blog had comments. This voice would constantly tell him that his writings weren’t going to be appreciated by his readers. So Seth would argue with himself about a sentence here, or he’d add an extra sentence there to justify his point of view and avoid offending his readers. Seth said, “I realized I had a choice: I could have a blog with comments and no posts, or a blog with posts and no comments.”

That was our lightbulb moment. We felt the same way: we could have a website with comments and no essays or a website with essays and no comments. So we killed the comments.

In short, we had to kill the comments before they killed us. Kill or be killed. We turned off comments because we didn’t want them shaping our writing into something inauthentic. If that happened, we’d be doing you a disservice. Plus we were spending 20 to 25 hours a week moderating and responding to hundreds of comments, which wasn’t adding as much value to our lives as it was taking. The comments were meant to engage readers, but let’s face it: less than one percent of the people who came to our website actually left a comment. There are better ways to stay engaged.

Comments Killed the Internet Star: Why The Minimalists Killed Comments on Their Site

I am always mystified as to why anyone would publish a blog on the internet and turn off comments. Seth Godin gives his reasons for turning off comments. The Minimalists give an amen to this strategy. But Godin's reasons strike me as post hoc rationalization for being thin skinned. No one wants to admit to this, so they proffer other high minded reasons for turning off comments.

The reality is that comments sting like a bitch. Well, they don't with me, but I could see where other people aren't like me. The beauty of a blog is that it is interactive. People get to respond to what was written. You can't do this with a book or a magazine. The result is that a blog post is more of a conversation starter than anything else. Even if you don't want that conversation, it will be had on Facebook or other blogs like this one.

I find comments to be valuable. Commenters on this blog have literally changed my thinking and my life by the things they have written here. Granted, you get some fucknuts who take a heaping shit on the convo, but these are opportunities for comedy. I see them as a challenge to come up with something witty as a comeback. Hell, a large part of my Facebook popularity comes from those witty retorts.

The downside of commenting is the spam. That can be a pain. I am quite fine with people voicing their opinions or spewing bile and hate. I'm not too fond of people using my blog to link to crap or scams they are trying to sell. I do delete that shit. But for the most part, I find comments to be a valuable part of my blogging experience, and I don't censor.

The upside of commenting is that I judge the success of a post by the amount of comments it generates. Pageviews are worthless. When people care enough to write a reply to what you wrote, you have done something special.

Some people can't handle it. I understand. But I cut my teeth in internet messageboards and other places, so I'm used to it. It is like what I am learning in martial arts. You learn how to fight by getting your ass kicked repeatedly in sparring sessions. The same applies to blogging. If you can't handle the battle, don't step into the arena.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Miss Piggy Versus Fox News


1. Ron Paul got the ultimate endorsement. Snoop Dogg says to vote for Ron Paul. Pure fucking awesome. Toke up!

2. Jack White goes solo with new work. A good thing.

3. First song is here.

4. I wish to Christ that Greece would hurry up and fucking implode. This is what happens when a country does not having a living will. Put them out of their fucking misery.

5. Apparently, donkey semen is a little too much for NBC. Hey, it's just a fluid. What is the big deal?

6. Alec Baldwin is pre-diabetic. So, he lost some weight to try and become pre-undiabetic.

7. I think the cure for type 2 diabetes is the elimination of all sugary soda drinks and running 100 miles per week. I'm halfway there. I switched to diet.

8. Liam Neeson is the Clint Eastwood of our times.

9. I wonder if donkey semen can cure diabetes.

10. They should reboot Dirty Harry with Liam Neeson. It would be fucking awesome.

All Jobs are Service Jobs

I am trying to figure out (a) what a "manufacturing job" is, and (b) why many economists think that such jobs are in some way a special category of jobs.

My emerging view is that all jobs are service jobs and some such jobs involve the manipulation of tangible goods. In our economic accounting we classify some (but far from all) of those jobs that involve the manipulation of tangible goods (for instance, those that can be put into a shipping container) as manufacturing jobs, and others (such as in construction) as services. The distinction seems somewhat (entirely?) arbitrary to me and as apt to mislead as clarify our discussions of innovation and the economy.

Here is a specific example to discuss (Thanks AC!):
In this sprawling facility on Route 128, sporty Kia coupes and Volvo trucks are regularly taken apart and reassembled. Caterpillar tractors and Harley-Davidson motorcycles are put through exacting trials that test the latest advances in power steering and antilock brakes. Both Aston Martin Racing and the Penske Racing Team come here to shave seconds off their times.

But the 1,000-plus employees at PTC never touch a wrench or ball-peen hammer. Instead they develop and advance software that allows automakers to design, build, and service the latest automobiles rolling off production lines all over the world.

“The actual making of cars has moved to other parts of the world,’’ said Sin Min Yap, PTC’s vice president for automotive market strategy, “but the digital making of cars is thriving here.’’
Are the jobs at PTC "manufacturing jobs"? Are they "service jobs"? And, most importantly, why does such a distinction matter for our discussion of innovation, the economy and employment? (For initial background, here is how the North American Industry Classification System characterizes manufacturing.)

My view -- all jobs are service jobs. I will follow up on the consequences of such a view in subsequent posts.

Taking the Lane with Elly Blue

Following the online presence of Portland-based bike activist Elly Blue over the past year, her perspective seemed so different from mine that it was as if she wrote from another planet. Critical Mass, relentless activism, political organising, and the accompanying stylistic elements - It's not my world and it's not my way of thinking. But when faced with swathes of difference, it often happens that the littlest suggestions of a common thread begin to stand out and attain significance. For me, the first of these was Elly's post My So-Called Out of Control Life - a non-bike-related essay that expressed my own unease with the hyper-confessional style of writing so popular with females of our generation. It was odd to read my own thoughts echoed in this piece, and to recognise our shared cultural references.

Shortly thereafter another common thread emerged: We both decided to quit facebook, independently and at around the same time. But what's more, is that right before I quit I noticed with amazement that Elly Blue appeared to be a "friend" of one of my real-world friends. How could they know each other? My very good friend L. has nothing to do with cycling, activism, or Portland. She does not read bicycle blogs (and, like most of my friends, has no idea that Lovely Bicycle exists). So how were they connected? I didn't feel comfortable asking at the time, but found myself paying closer attention to Elly Blue as a result of this discovery. When she announced the publication of Taking the Lane Volume 5: "Our Bodies Our Bikes," I bought one with intent to review it. She then included a couple of other volumes, so that I could get a better feel for the zine as a whole. I will be distributing those locally once I am done with them.

"A zine is like a small book or a large pamphlet, but with extra magic," explains the editor. And that it is. The compact format and eye-catching cover design make each zine inviting, pick-up-and-readable. My first thought: Is this a subversive tactic? Are these zines essentially vehicles for political agitation, which the attractive exterior and diminutive size are meant to ease the unseasoned reader into? But the Taking the Lane zines (a quarterly publication "about women and bicycling") are not quite that.

If I had to choose two words to describe my impression of the Taking the Lane zine, they would be "feminine" and "folkloric." Feminine because the various pieces of writing come across very strongly as being written by female authors and for a female audience. And folkloric, because the tone of each piece is narrative and subjective. The authors do not attempt to speak for everyone, and they do not attempt to convince; they simply share their own experiences and thoughts - in a manner that is almost alarmingly unguarded in an era of self-conscious and self-defensive blog writing we are all growing increasingly used to. It is essentially lots of stories, told in lots of individual voices. In each zine, a theme emerges - and this emergence is organic, not forced. Reading a zine is like seeing the pattern reveal itself in a woven tapestry or piece of knitting, which comes back to the "feminine" feeling again. While I realise that associating femininity with folklore and traditional craft is loaded, nonetheless it is what went through my mind when reading the zines - I had the sense that I was listening to stories told in a knitting circle of contemporary-minded women.

"Our Bodies Our Bikes" (volume 5) contains snippets of personal experience as diverse as surviving cancer, worrying about body image, and having orgasms while cycling downhill. "Unsung Heros" (volume 3) contains some of the most compelling and disarming descriptions of bicycle activism I have ever read, precisely because it focuses on human experiences and not on the activism itself. "Sexy on the Inside" (volume 4) is an entire issue dedicated to the analysis of the bicycle dance troupe the Sprockettes that goes off on interesting tangents about the history of punk culture and various types of feminism. To explain the content of the zines in any more detail than this seems impossible, because by its very nature the content is resistant to summary. When there is no one succinct point, the writing is unskimmable, and the reader ends up reading everything. The message in Taking the Lane sinks in slowly and stays with you - even if you're not sure what that message is.

Whether these descriptions are making the zine seem good or bad, interesting or dull, I am not sure. It is a unique publication and reactions to it are bound to differ. Most if not all of the contributing writers seem to be from Portland, OR and the surrounding areas, which gives the zine a local feel, and as an East-coast resident I find myself not always sure that I "belong" in the audience. If this is something the editor wishes to change, she could invite writers from other regions to contribute. Based on the subject matter covered and on the glimpses we see of the writers' background, there is also a distinct sense of cycling being portrayed as a fringe subculture, which some readers may find difficult to relate to. As someone who feels passionate about cycling and bicycles, but whose style of dress, social life, and political views do not revolve around cycling, I sense that I am different from the zine's writers and intended audience. If this is not intentional, then perhaps some diversity on that end could be introduced into future issues as well. [Edited to add: East-coasters and non-cycling-subbaculturalists are welcome to email submission inquiries to "elly[at]takingthelane[dot]com"]

Publishing content in the form of a zine in itself signals that the content is of an "alternative" nature, and there are so many ways to play with that idea - which Elly very much does. How she develops the zine in the future depends mainly on what type, and how large of an audience she seeks.

As I read through the volumes of the Taking the Lane, the final question for me was whether these publications "needed" to exist in printed format. Can the same not be said online, in a blog? What would compel the reader to pay $3 per pamphlet when there is so much free content around covering many of the same topics?  In the end my impression is that this writing would not in fact exist in an online format, simply because the internet discourages it. Whereas print was once a means to disseminate information as widely as possible, it can now function as a means of limiting our audience. In that context, the writers feel safe to express themselves in a manner they perhaps would not in a blog post, and the reader benefits from thoughtful, unself-conscious writing offering new perspectives on cycling, women and activism.

When I read Elly Blue's blog and twitter feed I disagree with her as often as I agree, but I am also fascinated with the way she expresses herself. Who knows, maybe one day we will meet and will either get along or not. Until then, I enjoy her writing online and in print.

Gatland backs LV= Breakthrough Player Award

Wales head coach Warren Gatland today backed a new award for this season's LV= Cup, designed to recognise a young player who has stood out in the 2011-12 competition.

Subsequent to the re-launch of the LV= Cup in September, supporters are now being given the chance to have their say on who they believe has made an outstanding contribution to the competition over the past seven months with the introduction of the LV= Breakthrough Player Award.

A 20 strong group of emerging stars will be whittled down to six by a panel of rugby experts: Martin Bayfield (ITV), Ieuan Evans (Sky), Gywn Jones (S4C) and Gavin Mairs (Telegraph).

Once the initial shortlist of six has then been selected, the fans take control via www.lv.com/rugby, where they can vote for their chosen player.

The player with the highest number of nominations will receive a Tag Heuer watch plus £1,000 donated to a local grassroots club of their choice and of course, the inaugural LV= Cup Breakthrough Player trophy.

As Wales head coach Warren Gatland comments, there are many worthy winners of the inaugural trophy with the LV= Cup competition providing an excellent breeding ground for academy players to experience first team action.

“The Anglo-Welsh cup is an exciting competition which continues to allow for the development of many young talented players in Wales and I’m sure that many of them will be in contention for this new award from LV= in the seasons ahead,“ he said.

The 20 shortlist*, selected by Paul Morgan, now Head of Communications at Premiership Rugby, includes at least one player from all sixteen LV= Cup clubs.

“This list shows the depth of talent in both England and Wales and some of the players who have made a breakthrough in the 2011-12 season,” commented Morgan.

“In compiling this initial list we were spoilt for choice and could have included another 50 players with ease. There is some great talent out there amongst the clubs in the LV= Cup, many of whom came through the clubs’ academies.

“We tried to come up with a list of players, Under-23, who have already had an impact on what has been a fascinating LV= Cup campaign so far. I don’t envy the panel members who now need to bring this long list down to six, and I will be fascinated to see who will win the fans’ vote which follows.”

LV=’s Head of Sponsorship Claire Jeromson also commented: “The 2011-12 LV= Cup has delivered some outstanding matches and we are thrilled to be launching an award that will identify some of the stand out players that have played a huge role in the success of this year’s competition.”

The LV= Cup is credited for playing a crucial role in the development of elite players and the introduction of the LV= Breakthrough Player Award aims to recognise and celebrate this talent.

Voting begins on Monday 6 February via LV.com/rugby, and closes at midnight on Sunday 11 March. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 13 March.

*LV= Cup Breakthrough Player 20 shortlist:

Pool 1
Bath Rugby – Olly Woodburn & Tom Heathcote
Saracens – Jamie George
London Wasps – Elliot Daly
Ospreys - Matthew Morgan

Pool 2
London Irish – Jonathan Joseph & Steve Shingler
Leicester Tigers – George Ford & Sam Harrison
Cardiff Blues - Dan Fish
Sale Sharks – Rob Miller

Pool 3
Scarlets - Adam Warren & Liam Williams
Harlequins – Luke Wallace
Newcastle Falcons – Joel Hodgson
Gloucester Rugby – Jonny May

Pool 4
Northampton Saints – Jamie Elliott
Exeter Chiefs - Dave Ewers
Newport Gwent-Dragons - Steffan Jones
Worcester Warriors – Matt Kvesic

The LV= Cup Final is coming to Sixways, Worcester on Sunday, 18 March. Secure your ticket for just £10 with a 2-for-1 offer on the first 1,000 sold for the battle for this season’s first piece of silverware. These tickets will sell fast so book now at 01905 454183 or www.warriors.co.uk.

CAPTION: Four Welsh players shortlisted for LV=Breakthrough Player Award

WRU extends deal with Welsh Varsity

The Welsh Rugby Union has signed a new agreement with Welsh Varsity to bring the annual rugby showdown between Cardiff University and Swansea University back to the Millennium Stadium until 2014.

The two-year deal will ensure that Wales’ finest student rugby talent, which has included British & Irish Lions stars Alun Wyn Jones and Jamie Roberts, will return to the home of Welsh sport for the showpiece event of the Welsh Varsity sports day.

The teams meet next at the iconic city-centre venue on Wednesday, 2 May for the fixture which attracted a record 14,000 rugby fans to the first Millennium Stadium Varsity match last season.

Roger Lewis, Group Chief Executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, which owns and operates the Millennium Stadium, said: “Last year’s game was a delight to behold – fast flowing entertaining rugby. It was a great evening’s feast of rugby. This Welsh Varsity fixture undoubtedly will feature some of our future club players, coaches and match officials and it is fitting that the match will be played at the home of Welsh sport for the foreseeable future.

“The event attracted a record crowd to the Millennium Stadium last season and I’m sure that the organisers will be pulling out all the stops to make the upcoming events bigger and better, not only for the students and alumni, but all fans of rugby in Wales. I am delighted that the WRU continues to support Welsh student rugby.”

The event has also attracted a broadcast deal with S4C for the free-to-air media rights of the May fixture, after a total of 132,000 individuals across the UK tuned into last year’s Varsity coverage on S4C.

S4C’s Director of Commissioning, Geraint Rowlands said: “We are delighted to be broadcasting the Welsh Varsity match live this year for the second time. The fixture has certainly captured the imagination of or viewers and reflects our commitment to broadcasting rugby.”

Welsh Varsity has grown year on year since it began it 1997 and matches were held alternatively at Cardiff Arms Park and Swansea’s St Helens. The match has been played on neutral ground since 2003, at Bridgend’s Brewery Field and Swansea’s Liberty Stadium, before the inaugural Millennium Stadium clash last season.

With four months to go until the big day in the city centre, Welsh Varsity organisers are expecting tickets, priced at £10, to be snapped up quickly by students, alumni and rugby fans.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Varsity teams said: "The atmosphere in the Millennium Stadium during the 2011 Varsity match was electric. There's a healthy rivalry between Cardiff University and Swansea University, and students relish the opportunity to see their peers take to the field in such a prestigious venue. "

Further information and ticketing details can be found at welshvarsity.com.

Scorpions launch 500 Tickets for a Fiver Day for Oldham game

South Wales Scorpions have launched "500 Tickets for a Fiver Day", a unique day where all fans can buy tickets for their 2012 opening home competitive match, which is against Oldham on Sunday 19th February 2012 at The Gnoll in Neath (kick-off 3pm), for a bargain price.

For 24 hours only, the Scorpions will be selling adult and concession match tickets at just £5, heavily reduced from £12 and £7 respectively.

The opportunity to buy takes place from 4pm on Wednesday 8th February to 4pm on Thursday 9th February 2012 and only via the official website at http://www.scorpionsrl.com/page.php?id=1991.

There will be an option to buy child tickets alongside this offer for the regular price of £3 for those aged between 12 and 16 and free (online charge of 1p) for those aged 11 and under.

There is no limit as to how many tickets anyone can buy but there are only 500 tickets available with this offer so once they're gone, they're gone. Once bought, All tickets will be available from the reception desk at the club house for collection on the day of the game.

Scorpions chairman Phil Davies said: "We are pleased to launch ‘500 Tickets for a Fiver Day' and we hope that it will encourage more fans to attend our first competitive home match of the season, so if you've thought about going to watch us at The Gnoll and haven't yet given us a try then now is your chance.

"We will take orders from home or away fans. We are told that Oldham are good travellers but we know cost is often an issue to anyone travelling away. We hope that this campaign will also help the Oldham fans to travel in larger numbers.

"We are now very much looking forward to the new season and we'd like to thank all the media organisations who have already come on board to help us promote this campaign. Hopefully it will have a good response and we'll see a good crowd for the Oldham game at The Gnoll on Sunday 19th February."

South Wales Scorpions open their 2012 campaign this Saturday 4th February with a warm-up match against a Wigan Warriors XIII at The Gnoll in Neath (kick-off 3pm). Tickets are on sale at www.scorpionsrl.com.

Social Media and Intercollegiate Athletics

The inaugural issue of the Mississippi ("Ole Miss") Sports Law Review is now available. You can view it online here. The presentation that we had in Oxford this past fall was a great event, and now we have the law review available to compliment the presentation on social media and intercollegiate athletics. The issue is ordered as follows:
Timothy Liam Epstein - Student-Athlete.O – Regulation of Student-Athletes’ Social Media Use: a Guide to Avoiding NCAA Sanctions and Related Litigation
Jerry Parkinson – Impact of Social Media on NCAA Infractions Cases
Mary Margaret “Meg” Penrose – Free Speech versus Free Education: First Amendment Considerations in Limiting Student Athletes’ Use of Social Media
John T. Wendt & Peter C. Young – Reputational Risk and Social Media


For the record, I think Sigmund Freud was a fucknut. My opinion of the entire psychiatric establishment is incredibly low, and Dr. Freud is definitely on my villains list. As a doctor and a mindfucker, he was truly a piece of shit. But as a philosopher, he had some interesting ideas. One of those ideas was the idea of sublimation.

Sublimation is where you take impulses that could be negative and turn them into a positive. For instance, a person prone to violence might redirect that energy into martial arts. A person prone to alcohol abuse might turn that into a love for running. It is a useful strategy because it keeps you from doing bad things and suffering negative consequences like going to jail.

Freud pointed out that sublimation worked very well on the impulse of libido. One can sublimate the desire to fuck by creating art instead. In Freud's day, indiscriminate fucking could get your ass in big trouble. Plus, doing cocaine on top of it doesn't help either. Freud had some issues. But the guy is correct. Not being in a single minded pursuit of ass frees you up to pursue other things such as inventing the quackery known as psychotherapy. It is said that Freud upon hitting middle age told his tender wife to finger her own pussy because he had work to do. He never hit that snatch again. That story is apocryphal, and I am taking some liberties in my telling of the tale. But it fits Freud's strategy of sublimation.

Sublimation is an experiment that I have been trying myself over the past year. I have taken steps to avoid finding myself in another relationship knowing that it is a fruitless pursuit that eats up resources. The result of the experiment so far is this. I have more money in the bank. My physical fitness has improved. I have been learning martial arts. I am writing more. My mood is better.

Let's face facts. Sex consumes a lot of our time, money, and energy. Freud knew this. Considering how it all ends up in a fruitless waste of those resources, doing without sex is a very productive thing. This explains the virtues of monastic existence in a nutshell. Being without a significant other and eschewing dating is liberating in many ways.

I see the emotion of love as being the worst aspect of sex. I consider love to be a kind of pollution along the lines of being drunk or high on coke. I am a straight edge guy, and I believe that a drug and alcohol free existence is the best strategy. Love is just another drug. Avoiding love is a good strategy, too. Why subject yourself to the emotional devastation?

Casual sex offers the pleasures of the flesh without the corresponding emotional fallout that comes with a relationship. It is merely enhanced masturbation with the possibility of acquiring an STD and/or eighteen years of child support obligation. Sex outside of a monogamous relationship is a risky affair in terms of the consequences to your health. So, there has sprung up the myth of celibate perversion to spur people to stay at the roulette table. If you aren't getting laid on a regular basis, you will go insane. I don't see any evidence for this. People incapable of sex like the physically handicapped do just fine. Is Stephen Hawking insane because he is confined to a wheelchair and can't plow some sweet ass like in his youth?

I think the idea that celibacy leads to mania is up there with the myth that masturbation leads to hairy palms and blindness. Granted, having regular access to a warm and shapely body is sweet, but it comes with such a heavy price that it becomes easier to let those desires go in favor of more fruitful endeavors. Even regular visits to a sex worker is better than being in a relationship.

I don't think the sex act is what eats up the resources so much as the relationship part. When your thoughts and activities are consumed with another person. It is difficult to get on with the other things like work. I can personally attest to the strain created from being attached to some nagging bitch. In time, the sex ends, and you just have the nagging.

I have seen positive results with this sublimation strategy, so I can tell you it works. The only downside is navigating the minefield of available opportunities that pop up at you. Women become more direct when they are ignored. You don't want to hurt their feelings especially when they are kinda hot. But you are trying not to start something you know you will regret finishing. It can be awkward.

I once shared a house with a guy back in the 90's who was a really good looking dude. He had no problem in the getting laid department. Women literally begged him to be his maintenance girl. The conventional wisdom was that he was gay or something. Wanting to settle the issue for myself, I snuck into his room and found a voluminous stack of Playboys and Penthouses he kept in a closet. Finally, I had a frank conversation with him about the fact that he didn't date. He told me that he didn't want the bother of it all. He had too much shit to do.

I had a great uncle who was the same way. He was in a thirteen year relationship with a chick that he dumped, so he could live alone until the day he died. She loved him from what I hear, but he was clearly tired of her shit. He had other things to do, and he did them.

Ralph Nader is also in this club. That guy has never married. When asked about marriage, Nader is reported to have said that he had to choose between a wife and a career because he couldn't have both. The guy lives on $25K a year, owns no car, is a millionaire, a workaholic, and what have you. My own lifestyle is becoming like this except I am keeping my car.

Women are anchors. This is a bonus if you are a drunk prone to self-destruction. It is a negative if you are a productive type of man wanting to do something other than being a worker drone for some worthless bitch. To do great things, you need all your resources and the freedom to deploy those resources. Women are merely shitheaded consumers of a man's energy and freedom. Freud and others argued that it is sublimation that has lead to the many great achievements in human history. This is debatable. The world might be a better place if Freud had kept fucking his wife. But what is not disputed is that sublimation helps you get more shit done. I already know that between ass and work that you are better off with work.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I just woke up from a nightmare. I have many nightmares. This particular nightmare was the prison nightmare. Most of the other nightmares are variations on the theme of human cruelty. I just have a lot of them for some reason.

The cause of my nightmares is obviously living alone. I remember only one nightmare in my life before my current living situation. I didn't have nightmares while in my various relationships. I just have nightmares now as a product of solitude.

People who spend a lot of time alone become paranoid. This paranoia feeds the need to be alone. It becomes a downward spiral. In time, you are that crazy guy with the beard and the shotgun living in a cabin up in the mountains. The irony is that sort of lifestyle is starting to appeal to me now.

Nightmares are a small price to pay for not being in a living nightmare. You just have to suck it up. My mantra is to do it alone. I don't ever want to rely on other people ever again. That is the one lesson I have learned in my life. Don't ever sacrifice yourself for the sake of other people. When they are done with you, they will toss you like a sack of wet garbage.

Living alone requires extreme self-reliance. Because humans are social, they derive comfort from living in social arrangements. It makes them feel secure even if that security is a lie. For instance, in prison, people in protective custody are safer than those in the general population. But they are also isolated which makes their minds do tricks on them. The human animal desires the pack even if that pack might turn and render him to pieces.

I know better. The people you love always hurt you. It is their nature. This is what I find so sad about life. Life is short. When you die, it is over with. There is nothing else but this life. We are cast into an uncaring and indifferent universe. Ultimately, all we have are each other. In light of this reality, you figure people would be kinder to one another. But they aren't. They have to shit on you as much as they can before they die.

This is sad shit. I can't change it. I can't make people be smart or caring or considerate. This is not in my power. The only rational response to this reality is the one I do now. I live alone. If I ever forget, I merely have to read Facebook status updates to bring me back to reality. People pour out their grief there. One chick was going on about her cheating husband. Guess what. They got back together. What a stupid woman. I have to shake my head at this. This is how desperate people are to not be alone.

My waking moments are not lonely or fucked up. The only thing I notice are those damn dreams. I think the secret to ending those dreams is to sleep with the television on.


Modern Family has won the SAG award for best
cast in a comedy series.

If there was ever an award designed for this show,
then best cast will be it.

It's a tribute to the adult actors and it's a tribute
to the child actors (Glee take note, I love ya, but
it's not a good look having 32 year olds playing 16
year olds)

What a nice gesture also by the show to allow the
kid actors to have fun during the acceptance speech.

Again a big congrats to Modern Family, which IMHO
will go down along side the greats of Comedy, MASH,
Seinfeld the Office.

It is truly brilliant and a credit to all those involved.

Hats off them.


1. I have changed the settings on the C-blog to only show 10 posts on the regular page. Prior to this, I had seven days on the page, but it takes forever to load because of my current output. Originally, it would be 7 posts on the page as my quota was one post per day. Now, I post three to four times a day upping that total to 28 or more.

2. I post a lot of nature pics for the simple reason that I find them stunning and gorgeous. I have also made it a commitment to spend more time outside. I blame it all on this guy.

3. Palin endorses Newt. I would call them Dumb and Dumber, but it is more like Dumb and Completely Fucking Nuts.

4. The bookstore is toast. Everyone will be reading their Kindles in Starbucks. I have foreseen it.

5. They ask if Newt is the next Reagan, but I don't remember Ronnie being a colossal asshole.

6. Celibacy is considered perverse. Promiscuity is seen as normal.

7. Retarded people are funny.

8. Yes, I am going to burn in Hell for that one.

9. It is easy to be celibate when you get free handjobs from the TSA.

10. Link love.

Gym day again

DL 100kg: 5
DL 110kg: 3x 5reps
DL 115kg: 5

Bench 70kg: 4x 6reps

Tri-push downs: 3x 10reps

Some combos from snatches, high pulls, outside swings/snatch, see-saw with 2x16kg and 2x12kg

Mmm... this week training is planned to Tues, Thurs, and Sunday.