On Why SF is So Crazy Expensive & DC/NY Are Better

The gap between the cost of land+materials and the cost of housing in SF is the result of demand, not regulation. It is definitely more expensive to build in SF, but the main reason a one-bedroom costs $3500/month is not that the housing inspector required really fancy wiring or the construction permits were pricey, it's that there are a bunch of people around willing and able to pay $3500/month for a one-bedroom apartment. CAPITALISM!

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 2:52 pm 1

On How the Other Half Lives

@Josh Michtom@facebook I still totally thought it sounded like a robot

Posted on July 31, 2014 at 12:33 am 1

On Concerning the Moral Obligations of the Wealthy

@Josh Michtom@facebook Yup, there is an income level where morality demands charity. I'm just not sure what it is, or what charity means in the context of a universal morality. Tithing as practiced by, say, modern Mormons responds to this same kind of ethical conundrum between wealth and righteousness, but the morality of sincere religious belief is too tied in to specific old texts to apply universally. I do think it's interesting that so many religions and belief systems have struggled with this problem - Islam traditionally forbids interest on loans and demands that a portion of income (variously interpreted) is given to help the poor, buddhism is more or less based on a renunciation of material wealth and goods, modern liberal humanism involves a lot of online discussions a la this one right here. Really not sure where I'm going with this, but yes: unless you limit your moral universe to some subset of humanity (family, religion, country, etc) that does not include any poor people, there is a moral obligation to donate to charity. Defining the boundaries of the group, and what exactly constitutes charity though... difficult.

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 7:21 pm 1

On Concerning the Moral Obligations of the Wealthy

Well, that was lovely. Morality and value get mixed up when you remember that we're all individual people though. Curing a sick kid in rural India is worth X; curing your own sick kid is worth infinity plus all of your money. Is it immoral to be self-interested in this kind of basic hereditary sense (ie to value your own progeny more highly than anyone else)? Honestly I'm not sure, but I want to say no. For the broader point about donating the money you don't "need": sure, but where, collected by whom, at what level, implemented how? You can have progressive taxation and argue about relative rates and geographic cutoffs (to which: if you live in Hawaii you shouldn't get a higher cutoff than people living in Mississippi. Hawaii is better than Mississippi and you pay more to live there. If I lease a BMW for hella $$$ I'm not poorer than I would be if I leased a Hyundai for only $.) or we could live in a Marxist society, but so far no one has figured out how to build one of those that works.

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 2:37 pm 0

On The Year I Saved $10,000

GF and I saved 10k each on salaries ~35k. It was the first year out of college, we didn't have a ton of loans to pay off, etc. Mostly we just lived on the wrong side of MLK, so the rent was cheap. Just the gap between our Oakland rent and any place we could get in SF accounted for about 5k of savings for each of us. We ended up traveling around California and then South America for 6 months. Hella worth it.

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 7:11 pm 4

On Concerning Eschewing Ivies and Raising Working-Class Heroes

My girlfriend and I met at UC Berkeley, which is about as ivy as a state school can get, but still the other day when we met up with one of her high school friends and their small tribe of friends from Princeton it felt like we were watching a sketch comedy performance in which everyone acts and dresses (ALL J-CREW ALL THE TIME: AJATT) like a young Jack Donaghy/Sheryl Sandberg. The bottom line is that if you send your kid to Princeton they'll come out of it thinking that wearing pink khaki shorts and tasseled loafers while day-drinking on the west coast is a non-ridiculous thing to do, and that is incorrect. Life skills, people.

Posted on July 23, 2014 at 4:42 pm 2

On How to Cold Email a Complete Stranger

The use of "ask" as a noun is a monstrosity that must be stopped before it consumes us all. I don't know if the users of noun-ask really think it means something other than "request", or if they're unfamiliar with the word "request", or if they know all about "request" but are code-switching to match the apparent stupidity levels of their corporate superiors and avoid sounding like a SNOOT, but something has to be done to quash this. It makes you sound like a poorly programmed office robot, and it's just grammatically wrong in a way that if you heard a first-grader say it you'd correct them without even thinking about it just so they don't sound stupid their whole lives. END OF RANT. PS these were all good suggestions, especially, ironically, having a specific question in your email.

Posted on July 21, 2014 at 7:00 pm 0

On Weed Sells Like Hotcakes! Who Knew?

Live in Seattle, still waiting for a weed store to open up in my part of town. For now I call some people with a nice website and they dispatch a car full of weed to my house. The drivers are always super chill in the way you'd expect of weed dealers that used to equate their business with The Wire and now see it as something more like selling individual cigarettes on the street in NY - illegal, but only in a not-paying-the-right-taxes/not-having-the-right-permits kind of way. I'll absolutely switch to a store once they open up, unless the prices are just crazy.

Posted on July 14, 2014 at 1:37 pm 0

On Why I Didn't Study STEM

Learning the equipment-intensive parts of science is what college is for. Also, everyone had to buy their own graphing calculator at my school. Also graphing calculators are not necessary to learn calculus (though a good teacher definitely is, and it sounds like you didn't have that). Seems like you didn't study a STEM subject (let's remember that there is no STEM - there's physics and biology and a bunch of other ologies) because you wanted to study something else more, or just didn't want to study STEM, or because of a constellation of social forces suggesting that it would be hard and that you wouldn't be good at it because of the boobs, but lack of equipment can't be that high on the list of reasons. Maybe you would have been more passionate if you got to look through a microscope in high school, but all the english classes had was books and that seemed to work ok. Anyways, don't blame the equipment.

Posted on June 12, 2014 at 11:03 am 1

On Does Biking To Work Take All The Joy Out of Biking?

@Liz the Lemur Agreed. The problem is that if you hate your job then going to work sucks however you get there. Trying to separate the spheres of your life completely so you have this job where you work most of the day in the capitalist machine that crushes your soul and then you come home and take a bike ride and feel free and beautiful and whatever: that's a bad strategy, but even there you'll feel better about reality if you bike to work because endorphins (and/or adrenaline, depending on the biking infrastructure on your route).

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 12:12 pm 0