Amy Winehouse (drugs)

I was saddened when I head about her death. I had hoped that she was going to turn it around. I still hold out hope that she didn’t fall off the wagon, maybe her body just gave out after years of abuse. I know, reason tells me that isn’t the case…


It may seem strange to post a song from another group in an Amy WInehous post, but I think it fits. Drug use is always sad, this song captures that sadness and the video (scenes from The Panic in Needle Park) really sums up for me how life devolves when you’re locked in that cycle. RIP Amy, hope you can have some peace from all your troubles now.


Raise the Debt Ceiling!

I don’t know what it is about rap and economics, but here’s another one that works really well. No, it doesn’t talk about what might happen if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, but it does a good job putting what raising it actually means.


Nobody wants a default, but we should really take a look at what we’ve been doing for the past… 30 years?

Give directly, a great new charity

A little while ago, Tyler Cowan put together the principles of the ideal charity. You give money directly to people, that money has no strings attached, and they shouldn’t expect it. Giving directly reduces the non-charitable cost aspect of the donation. All charities have overhead, giving directly minimizes this. If the people arent expecting it, you have a much better chance of avoiding scams and corruption diverting the charitable donation.

It’s the second part that is so important, and it is also the part that so many people have problems with. Economists call things like food stamps, vouchers, etc. as “gifts in kind” and it has been known for a long time that they aren’t a very good way of giving aid if the primary aim is to help people. Poor people are like anyone else, they need money for different things. When you give cash, they can apply it to whatever their most urgent need is. It might in fact be food, but it could just as easily be paying off debts, legal help, maintanince, or even investing or savings.

“But they might spend it on drugs or prostitutes!” Yeah, they might. A former professor summed up that attitude with the sarcastic comment, “Oh, I like the poor, but I don’t trust them!” If we want the poor to get better, and if we want to help them, we have to allow them to make their own decisions and use money the way they need to. A more practical aspect of having no strings on the donation is that it saves the cost of monitoring them and enforcing the rules. The primary aspect of no strings donations should always be respecting who you are giving money to, it is supposed to be a charitable at after all.

GiveDirectly is a new charity based on these principles. They are working in Kenya right now because of the easy and inexpensive system for distributing cash via sim cards in place there. They are claiming a 90% effeciancy for donations. I am going to start using these guys for my monthly charitable donations along with my microfinancing thing thorugh Kiva. They are brand new, so there isn’t much information on the progran just yet, but I am willing to give it a try. I encourage you to do the same if you want to give aid directly to recipients!

Events are conspiring against me

It’s amazing how the little things in life can be blown up with MS… I needed to get the muffler fixed on the car, but they had to order the part. When could I leave it to be fixed? Well, they were going to get the part in on wednesday and I didn’t have to be at work on thursday until 1:30. Plus, the parking lot in front of my house was going to get repaved starting really early on thursday morning. This gave me a place to put the car. So I’ll just drop the car off after work and then pick it up before I go on thursday. Plus, the shop is just a bit further than my Pakistani resturants, i.e. about 4 blocks away. I figured I’d drop off the car and then walk back home.

That’s when things started to go downhill. Wednesday was also the day the heat wave kicked in. Walking the 4 blocks in the heat after a day’s work was exhausting. I managed to get the garage to pick me up the next day although I still ended up hanging out in the heat for a while before they did. Was really beat at work, but I did get through the day. I got out of work around 10. Forgot that the paving was still going on, so I had to find a parking space when I got back home. Ended up parking 5 blocks away. The walk home in the heat after the day’s work just about killed me this time.

My alarm went off at 7:30 this morning. I must have fallen asleep as soon as I turned it off, I certainly don’t remember doing it. Woke up briefly around 9:30, dragged my carcass out of bed to text work and then promptly fell asleep again. Woke up after 12, still groggy and stiff. I need to go retrieve the car after 6, the paving is supposed to be done by then. I fully anticipate being hobbled by the walk, but without the standing up for 7 hours, it’ll be doable.

Still, another day off of work, this is getting expensive. Here’s to hoping that stupid little things stop ganging up on me!


OK, I know I said I’m trying not to spread negativity, but this is just amazing, in a bad way. Once again, Obama is getting away with stuff that Bush and McCain never would have. If McCain had tried to do this, the pushback from the anti-war movement would have been massive. As they say in the piece below, the anti-war movement has been de-fanged by the election of Obama. He has been given carte blanche to do whatever he feels like by both the traditional anti-war folks on the left as well as the press. I find it instructive that a reporter from The Nation broke this story and this segment was on MSNBC, hardly a right wing organization. What is going on? Where is the anger? Where is the outrage? What will it take? Killing of civilians by drones? Secret CIA prisons in Somalia? Assassination orders on US citizens? If these things don’t cause widespread anger what will?


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This drone bombing campaign of countries off stated battlefields began in 2002. The Bush administration bombed Yemen in November of 2002 targeting an alleged Al Qaeda leader. The Obama administration has dramatically increased the drone attacks around the world. In Yemen, we’ve done cruise missile strikes, drone strikes, now we’re hitting regularly in Somalia. On July 6, there were 3 U.S. strikes; June 23rd, another U.S. strike inside of Somalia. A lot of liberals used to say “the world is a battlefield” was the bush doctrine. President Obama hit harder in more countries with special ops forces from the Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA than bush did. He has made possible a continuation of these policies that I think McCain would not have been able to push through because there would have been push-back through some semblance of an anti-war movement. There’s no anti-war movement that has any voice in this country anymore. Obama has legitimized and normalized, and attempted to legalize policies a lot of people were saying were immoral and illegal under president Bush.


Why is Obama getting away with this? Why do people not hold him to his campaign promises? His Nobel Peace prize is looking sillier every passing year…

Not a whole lot going on

I’ve been trying to not post negative blog posts, you know, the whole, “If you can’t say anything nice…” approach. The world’s financial outlook is depressing. Europe is looking less and less sound by the day, and our politicians are playing chicken with our debt obligations. Things could go just fine I suppose, but it’s looking more and more likely that there is going to be some pain coming up. Just to be on the safe side, I would hold a minimum of cash and money market funds right now, they could decrease in value quickly if things fall apart.

Enough global doom and gloom, I’ve got money issues myself. The car needs a rather expensive repair (my muffler was damaged and there aren’t any aftermarket ones) and I missed a day of work. SIGH. Wasn’t sure how I was going to take care of that, and then I remembered my savings in the form of Apple stock. Was hoping not to have to touch that, but I guess that’s what savings is for, right? Once I get this out of the way, I will be in a better mood, but man, it’s going to hurt.

Other than that, not a lot going on, working, eating, etc. Woohoo, do I know how to have a good time or what?

Whew! That’s a dream!


I was living in what looked like a house that had been carved out of a cave or something. I was expecting my father to get back, but to my surprise he was already there. We chatted for a few minutes and then heard someone coming to the door. He went to go answer it  (it was around the corner) when I heard him say, hello! anyone there? And then dad walked in from his trip. He asked how I opened up the door and then got back to the front room so quickly.
That’s when I realized what happened. A future version of him had managed to leak into the past. When he came into contact with his previous self, there was only one of him. That totally freaked me out. It was like seeing a ghost of him. Later I worried that he might actually be stuck in a time loop too… it got worse later on…
Since I had a time anomaly on my hands, who better to call in than the crew at Big Finish (the guys that do the Dr. Who audios)? The gang was all there, Jason, Nick, the Pauls, and even Lisa. Why I thought they could help I have no idea, but it was a dream, it all made sense. Then, my stepbrother came in with a bunch of his friends because they were making a student film. Here’s where it gets complicated.
As future versions of folks came in, the current people were absolutely terrified. Seeing themselves was just too weird and unsettling. The future folks had it just as bad, they were seeing ghosts of themselves too, but they remembered what it was like to see themselves in the past and relived the experience plus had all of the weirdness of seeing their ghosts. Then it got worse. Now when future and past versions came into contact, they would merge into one person. The problem was that they simultaneously had the memories of all the things that had happened, and also understood that they hadn’t done those things because they essentially got sucked into the future. And then future versions of themselves would show up and the effect would compound.
Between the disorientation and the fear, people started to go totally insane. And we started to accumulate multiples of the same people. Different groups of person would react in different ways. Some thought they were aliens discovering their true nature, some were convinced all of the others were trying to kill them, and more than a few were just curled up and crying.
The panic level was getting out of hand. At some point bullets started to fly. That’s when I understood what was going on. I was sure that at some point, a future person was going to kill a past version of themselves and create a paradox. The effects of that paradox would spill outwards both in the future and in the past. Retro-causation is a tricky thing, but it made total sense. Then I woke up.
How’s that for a dream?