Life as I see it #19 MTV and Vevo

Anyone else remember this?


MTV blew me away when I first saw it in 1982. It blew me away again when I heard it attached to a stereo system. I wasn’t always able to watch it growing up because we went a long time without cable. I remember staying up late to watch Friday Night Videos on one of the major networks. Started watching it again in high school and tried to catch the show called 120 minutes for newer music. MTV eventually became less and less relevant and now doesn’t bother showing videos at all anymore. Youtube is the new MTV but I miss the ability to turn on a channel and have music videos just play. I stumbled across Vevo streaming on my mother’s Samsung Blue Ray player. Wow, it’s MTV all over again! One video after another. But get this, I can skip videos! It really made me nostalgic. Alas and alack, I do not have access to Vevo streaming on my Apple TV or my iPad. Sigh. Just as well, there’s no telling how much time I’d waste sitting in front of it.

Get alerted each time I make a new post!

Start receiving "Life as I see it podcast" Broadcast updates now:
Subscribe on


Moving today? Probably not…

Was originally scheduled to move today. Sure glad I postponed that. Also glad I’m not going to try tomorrow. Even if all the snow miraculously went away, it’s supposed to be in the single digits (Fahrenheit of course) tomorrow. No, I’ll wait it out. Hopefully by the end of the week the streets will be clear enough and the temperature will be bearable. Then it’ll be time to move…


You can see all of my podcasts at You can subscribe using the RSS feed


You can also subscribe via or email. I encourage you to join in order to take advantage of all of the services it offers. It’s free!



Start receiving "Life as I see it podcast" Broadcast updates now:
Subscribe on

podcast Uncategorized

Life as I see it podcast #14 Thinking of my grandmother


Random, silly things make me think of my maternal grandmother:) Tetris, gooey things, and upholstery…


You can see all of my podcasts at You can subscribe using the RSS feed


You can also subscribe via or email. I encourage you to join in order to take advantage of all of the services it offers. It’s free!


Start receiving “Life as I see it podcast” Broadcast updates now:
Subscribe on


Happy New Year!


A look back at 2013 and what 2014 might have in store for me. Special thanks to my friends on and family that got me through the rough parts of the year! Discovering how easy it was to make podcasts through really made a difference during my darker days. I feel like I’m going in the right direction, looking forward to what 2014 has in store for me:)


Merry Christmas! Podcast #5


A quick podcast while I could get it out. Some reminiscing about Christmas past and appreciation for Christmas in the present. Merry Christmas everyone!


Changing the world one person at a time


I don’t know if it’s cool or sad to have a guiding principle in your life based off of a (very) minor character in a Salinger book. Sorenson’s fate in Franny and Zooey led me to reorient my view of people’s purpose in life. His ended up being a way to have some insight into another minor character. He didn’t change anything, he didn’t really register as a character to me until my 6th or 7th reading of the book. Still, the creator of that world thought he was important enough to have a name and to have a speaking part. 

The thought struck me, what if I’m Sorenson? What if I were put here not for my contribution to the narrative as such, but simply in order to bring out thoughts and personality in someone else? What if I was simply there in order to highlight some negatives in those things? Sorenson affected Laine. And while Laine was a minor character, he had a big impact on one of the stars of the book. Sorenson is part of that chain, where am I on it? It’s a humbling thought and it can make you reevaluate how we all fit into each other’s lives. 

I still like to think that I can be a positive influence on people. Maybe I’m misguided but I’ll cling on to that idea as it makes my view of myself more palatable. There’s no telling what the thing is that I will do that will have the biggest impact. Maybe something I say to them, or something I do to them, or near them triggers something in them. Maybe that leads that person to do great things, or maybe it leads them to do something that leads someone else to do great things. Maybe I’m just here to make someone hope the train arrives quickly so they can see their girlfriend and it turns out that she is a main character. Any complaint I have about Rilke can end up being the most important thing I ever do. If I want to be a positive force in this world, I’m well served by treating every interaction as a chance to improve things.

I find this to be a really rich way of approaching life. My current career is in retail, a job that most people see as soul destroying. It can certainly be that if you approach it in terms of what you will get out of it. If you approach it instead as how can I help the next person, it’s actually quite fulfilling. When you extend it to the rest of your life, every interaction can be meaningful. If nothing else, it keeps you on your toes. And oddly enough, by concentrating on the person in front of you, you could be influencing the rest of the world. So here I go, changing the world one person at a time.


My current charities

I am always on the lookout for what I consider the perfect charity. Most people want to know that the money they donate is used well, but few wonder what kind of negative effect their well intentioned donations can have. Many well meaning charities do things like give away clothes, food, or other things. After all, what better way to help a poor person than to give them stuff? That is completely appropriate and works well for relief aid after disasters. The folks in the Philippines could use just about anything right now. On the other hand, giving that kind of aid to people in order to alleviate ongoing poverty can lead to some big problems. 

The biggest of the problems are creating dependance on free goods or money and the ensuing disruption to the local economy. It is far too common for a village or area to be made worse off by well intentioned charities. One of the stories I heard was of a church that decided to donate eggs to a village. Free food, what could be wrong with that? The villagers liked it of course but the ones that were trying to sell eggs were promptly put out of business. When the church inevitably decided to end the program, the chickens had long since been eaten and the village was left without a way to get eggs. It’s one example, but you can get a feel for how free goods screws up the local systems and economies. It’s easy to forget that businesses, no matter how small, fill needs and serve the community. When you eliminate local businesses with unsustainable substitutes, bad things will eventually happen.

So when I look for charities, I am looking for ones that can have a big impact on the lives that are touched by it. I also look for ones that do not create dependance. After all, I’m hardly wealthy man, I might have to stop donating at any moment! The easiest ways to avoid dependance is to explicitly limit the time frame, concentrate on boosting growth, or achieve a specific, non repeating task. I’ve found three charities that meet these criteria and I think they’re really good ones.

Poverty Cure is an organization run by the Acton Institute, a Catholic organization that emphasizes commerce and business activity as a way of eliminating poverty. Not only that, they recognize the dignity and desire of people to better themselves through work and business. It is a humanizing force. Instead of looking at the poor as victims, as someone to pity and help, Poverty Cure recognizes that the poor are the solution to their own problems. A central part of their promotional materials asks, “Can you relate to the poor as partners?” When efforts are put towards helping people to create wealth, the entire approach changes. Both the folks from Poverty Cure and the recipients understand that looking for ways to make money is a far more sustainable and empowering approach than distributing aid ever could be. It’s a wonderful organization. There is no dependency created as self sufficiency is the goal. They do tend to disrupt things, but only in the best way possible:)

I’ve talked about Give Directly before. A handful of economists came up with some general rules for what they thought would be the most effective type of charitable giving. The ones they came up with were to give money, not goods, have no strings attached to the gift, surprise people with the money, and make it a lump sum or of a short duration. Economists have always known that a pure cash infusion is always a better way to help people than so called gift in kind donations. The people that receive food stamps can only use them for one thing, cash can be put to any use. The recipient will know what their most pressing needs are. It might be food, but it might be something else. Trusting them to do what is best for themselves is not only the most charitable thing to do, it is also the most effective. That was the theory and now they have independent research showing that the process works very well. Because the recipients are chosen without knowing that they could get money, there is no gaming the system. And because it is usually a lump sum, they can’t depend on more money coming. I encourage you to check the link and read up on Give Directly, they are doing great work.

I am especially happy to have found Liberty in North Korea (LINK). The day to day life of people living in North Korea is brutal and short. The most repressive government in the world makes its citizens life like serfs while the elites live well. Who wouldn’t want to escape that? It isn’t easy to do though. Some manage to get into China, but their hardships have just begun. If they are found by the Chinese government, they will be deported back to the DPRK. There they will usually find themselves in work camps, prison, or possibly even executed. Like every immigrant that is in a new country illegally, the North Koreans in China resort to black market labor. For women, this frequently means the sex trade. It’s brutal and they have very few chances or choices. LINK runs a kind of underground railroad to help refugees from North Korea get out of China and into a country that allows them to move somewhere they don’t have to worry about being sent back. Usually that means South Korea or the US. LINK says that the cost of doing this is about $2000 a person. That includes placement in a host country. I can’t imagine what kind of courage and desperation it must take to smuggle yourself out of your country with the knowledge that you could be imprisoned or shot for trying. And then to have to live life on the run, doing God knows what to survive. All because they don’t want to, you know, starve to death. I am happy to help these folks out and I’m glad there are organizations like LINK to help them. I consider any money sent to them to be high impact donations. Please do check them out and donate to save desperate people. 


Podcasting again

One of the best things about joining was how easy it was to make podcasts. Started doing some on various topics but eventually ended up doing more and more about itself. Well, I’ve decided to get back to doing a regular podcast and tie it into my regular blog. That means most topics are fair game, economics, political economy, music, Doctor Who, etc. Hopefully this will make my blog a little more interesting, LOL. Anyway, thanks for listening and I hope I’ll keep this going:)



Fight of the century

The second in the Hayek/Keynes rap battles, Fight of the Century is a worthy successor to the original. This time, they get more philosophical. Here are some of the better lyrics I think.

we could have done better, had we only spent more
Too bad that only happens when there’s a World War
You can carp all you want about stats and regression
Do you deny World War II cut short the Depression?

Wow. One data point and you’re jumping for joy
the Last time I checked, wars only destroy
There was no multiplier, consumption just shrank
As we used scarce resources for every new tank

Pretty perverse to call that prosperity
Rationed meat, Rationed butter… a life of austerity
When that war spending ended your friends cried disaster
yet the economy thrived and grew ever faster

This is one of my pet peeves, people talking about how WW II stopped the depression. Folks lived pretty poorly, there was massive rationing and all of the work went into things that were going to be blown up. It wasn’t exactly productive labor in the long run.

You too only see what you want to see
The spending on war clearly goosed GDP
Unemployment was over, almost down to zero
That’s why I’m the master, that’s why I’m the hero

Creating employment’s a straigtforward craft
When the nation’s at war, and there’s a draft
If every worker was staffed in the army and fleet
We’d be at full employment with nothing to eat


jobs are the means, not the ends in themselves
people work to live better, to put food on the shelves
real growth means production of what people demand
That’s entrepreneurship not your central plan

Once again, people tend to lose the plot when it comes to jobs. It’s easy enough to create jobs if you’re not worried about what the people are doing in them. Never mind the waste of resources (including their time) involved and how they could have been better used elsewhere.

My solution is simple and easy to handle..
its spending that matters, why’s that such a scandal?
The money sloshes through the pipes and the sluices
revitalizing the economy’s juices

it’s just like an engine that’s stalled and gone dark
To bring it to life, we need a quick spark
Spending’s the life blood that gets the flow going
Where it goes doesn’t matter, just get spending flowing

You see slack in some sectors as a “general glut”
But some sectors are healthy, and some in a rut
So spending’s not free – that’s the heart of the matter
too much is wasted as cronies get fatter.

The economy’s not a car, there’s no engine to stall
no expert can fix it, there’s no “it” at all.
The economy’s us, we don’t need a mechanic
Put away the wrenches, the economy’s organic

Exactly! The economy isn’t a thing, it’s a process, it’s us. Try to control it, and you try to control us.


so what would you do to help those unemployed?
this is the question you seem to avoid
when we’re in a mess, would you just have us wait?
Doing nothing until markets equil-i-brate?

I don’t want to do nothing, there’s plenty to do
The question I ponder is who plans for who?
Do I plan for myself or leave it to you?
I want plans by the many and not by the few.

As succinct a summary of free market ideals as there is. A point that isn’t made enough is the fact that central planning is a few people making decisions for many. No one has the knowledge to do that well.

We shouldn’t repeat what created our troubles
I want real growth not just a series of bubbles
Let’s stop bailing out losers and let prices work
If we don’t try to steer them they won’t go berserk

Come on, Are you kidding? Don’t Wall Street’s gyrations
Challenge your world view of self-regulation?
Even you must admit that the lesson we’ve learned
Is more oversight’s needed or else we’ll get burned

Oversight? The government’s long been in bed
With the Wall Street execs and the firms that they’ve led
Prosperity’s all about profit and loss
When you bail out the losers there’s no end to the cost

the lesson I’ve learned? It’s how little we know,
the world is complex, not some circular flow
the economy’s not a class you can master in college
to think otherwise is the pretense of knowledge

Zing! People that think they know what’s best are the ones that want to make decisions for everyone. The thing is that those are the same people in the pockets of industry.

You get on your high horse and you’re off to the races
I look at the world on a case by case basis
When people are suffering I roll up my sleeves
And do what I can to cure our disease

The future’s uncertain, our outlooks are frail
Thats why free markets are so prone to fail
In a volatile world we need more discretion
So state intervention can counter depression

People aren’t chessmen you can move on a board
at your whim–their dreams and desires ignored
With political incentives, discretion’s a joke
The dials you’re twisting… are just mirrors and smoke

the market’s a process where we can discover
the most valuable ways to serve one another
we need stable rules and real market prices
so prosperity emerges and cuts short the crisis

A perfect summation of a type of economics that is gaining traction. It makes sense to me, and it surprises me how many people are willing to allow a handful of people make decisions for them. Russ Roberts and John Papoula have done an amazing job making economics more accessible to everyone and laying out the major issues involved. I wish there was more education like this…

You can see the video here:



Baseball playoffs

Got into a discussion with some friends about the playoffs in baseball. One thought that there should be more wildcard rounds, I’m totally against that. Baseball is unique among sports when it comes to the length of their season. The MLB season is 162 games plus the playoffs and the world series. 162 games! The idea behind having such a long season is to separate the good from the not as good teams. It’s clear who the best teams are at the end, it seems patently unfair to allow a team that did not do as well over that time frame to usurp the team that did well in a 5 game series. Anything can happen in a series that short. You can take the best team in the league and play them against the worst in a 5 game series and we don’t know who will come out on top.

It’s best to look at the season as a 162 game playoff series. What I would like to see is two divisions in each league. The winners of those divisions play a best of 7, or even 9, to determine who goes to the world series. 4 teams, 1 round of playoffs, we would definitely see who is the best.

“But then only the rich teams would make the series!” that’s a common feeling, but it just isn’t true. There are plenty of rich teams that haven’t done well, like the mets, the Cubs, and even the Dodgers, and teams in smaller markets and/or with smaller budgets that do fine like the Rays and the Angels. The fact that the Yankees or Red Sox haven’t won every world series and the fact that teams like the Royals and A’s have won it tell us that it isn’t just budget that determines success. It helps to be sure, but a well run team is far important than the amount of money they have.

To me, 162 games should mean something. Playing 162 games just to possibly be bounced out by a 4th place team in a best of 5 series just doesn’t seem right. If they are going to change the playoffs, there should be fewer rounds, not more.