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Author: Schimmy

When should you itemize your federal deduction if you live in California?

When should you itemize your federal deduction if you live in California?

It’s tax time again, which means everyone I know has to put up with my complaining about Intuit’s (makers of TurboTax) lobbying for more complicated tax laws. In any case, if you’re doing your own taxes and you make enough to live in San Francisco at least semi-comfortably*, you should probably be itemizing your federal tax deduction. So California has fairly high taxes, which includes the CA SDI 1% for disability and paid family leave. Whether you’re happy about California being…

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Adolescent drug use over time

Adolescent drug use over time

I was talking about how different drugs had come into and out of fashion over the years with someone, and in the conversation I stated that “younger people have been using fewer and fewer illegal (and legal) drugs over time”. However I wasn’t sure that I had a reference for this, so I decided to dig a bit. Turns out that it wasn’t a myth, at least comparing to medium-term trends. Looking at drugabuse.gov (a hardly unbiased site), the news looks…

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Dear New York Entrepreneurs

Dear New York Entrepreneurs

If one of you opens up a real bagel shop in SF, you will be rich. Seriously. There’s a place called Katz which is only marginally better than Bruegger’s and is just raking it in, and is considered one of the best bagel places in the city. Just sayin. Not only would you be rich, but you would have the admiration of the entire city. Please, help save us from this bagel drought! Sincerely, Schimmy

A stupid article I probably shouldn’t respond to

A stupid article I probably shouldn’t respond to

Here’s the latest lament of a particular group of women in San Francisco. The gist of these stories are that there’s something wrong with the men of San Francisco, as compared to other cities (generally NYC), which is why the dating scene is so bad. They cite the lack of attractive men talking to them spontaneously in bars and coffee shops, even though the ratio of men to women is in favor of women in the city. *Sigh* Look, there…

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Some choice bits from Dan Geer’s RSA talk

Some choice bits from Dan Geer’s RSA talk

Somehow I came across this writeup of Dan Geer’s RSA conference talk. I was blown away by it, not by what information contained in the talk but instead by the questions he was able to ask which I hadn’t even though to ask. You should absolutely read it! I don’t have time for a proper writeup, but I’ll pull out some particularly good items I appreciated from the talk: On fragility: ‘The Gordian Knot of such tradeoffs — our tradeoffs…

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‘Braided Streets’- my proposal for how to organize traffic in SF

‘Braided Streets’- my proposal for how to organize traffic in SF

The fight over what our streets look like is perpetual in this city. Bicyclists love Valencia and Folsom, and want other streets to be just like them. Car-owners and taxis love Franklin, South Van Ness, Guerrero, etc. Transit (aka buses and streetcars) does well on Mission, Market, and Haight, amongst others. Pedestrians seem to like the streets that are optimized for bikes and transit. It seems that there is a showdown brewing between the newly powerful bike coalition, the Muni…

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Very simple algorithm for keeping track of doing something 50% of the time

Very simple algorithm for keeping track of doing something 50% of the time

So one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to eat meat less than 50% of days. However, I’ve been having trouble tracking it, and therefore have not been doing a good job of sticking with it. It’s hard to remember to update a calendar. You have to remember the days you did or did not eat meat that week, and there’s no easy way to see if you are doing better than 50%. Yet, there is a shortcut we can…

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Thoughts About Recent Books I’ve Read

Thoughts About Recent Books I’ve Read

Average is Over, by Tyler Cowen “Tyler Cowen may very well turn out to be this decade’s Thomas Friedman” was a quote on the back of the book. This quote is accurate. In a more serious vein, while I have a ton of problems with his conclusions and writing, his heuristic for how to choose a career is very valid: In your work, are you competing directly against something a slightly smarter machine could do (aka assembly line worker)? Yes? You’re…

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Thoughts about “Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital”

Thoughts about “Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital”

This is a totally eye-opening view of how capitalism and technology advances interact. This is going to be on my list of must-read books for anyone, especially anyone working in or investing in tech. In “Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital”, Carlota Perez argues that the technological advances and financial capital interact to create “surges”, what others generally call “long waves”. This surge encompasses the lifecycle of an entire “techno-economic paradigm”, a fancy word to describe how a society and its…

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Overcompensating racial ‘colorblindness’

Overcompensating racial ‘colorblindness’

Pretending that the world is a place where race doesn’t matter is pretty bad. You see this on the Daily Show, where some hapless (but who should know better) southern white congressman just doesn’t understand why everyone can’t agree racism is dead. You also see it in Silicon Valley, with those who proclaim it a meritocracy and claim that any racial imbalances are a problem with the education pipeline and not some issue with hiring or culture. I’m not here…

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Subvocalization – something that might be slowing you down as you read these words…

Subvocalization – something that might be slowing you down as you read these words…

Subvocalization is when, as you read, you speak the words in your head. Up until this week, I had no idea that Subvocalization existed beyond starting to learn a language. I thought that it was a part of proficiency in a language that you could read the words without ‘saying’ them in your head. Similarly, others who do subvocalize (at least those who were in the same room I was when I heard about it) had no idea you could read…

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Do you capitalize the [Ii]nternet?

Do you capitalize the [Ii]nternet?

The “Internet” officially should be capitalized. I certainly don’t capitalize it, however. This is just a theory, but I’ll bet that there is a clear difference in who capitalizes and who doesn’t. I’ll bet that those who were born after, say,1985 would just write “the internet” without capitalization. Why? Well, you don’t capitalize “the sky” or “the ocean” or “the highway system”. For our generation, our entire adult lives and some of our formative years has seen the internet as…

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A curmudgeonly view of words

A curmudgeonly view of words

Recently a few choice words have caught my ear. You see, I care more about words than someone who hasn’t ever thought about majoring in English probably should. There are two main ways I see people abusing the English language, and I’m not happy about it: Change the meaning of words to suit your purposes Use a word in an inappropriate context to appropriate some of the associations and meanings of that word for your own purposes The first is…

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How to keep the cold out of your freezing apartment

How to keep the cold out of your freezing apartment

It’s cold. Damn cold, at least here in San Francisco (although the weather maps show a lot of blue and purple shading in the rest of the country as well!). My apartment, while costing the equivalent of sending two kids to college for a year amongst the four of us, has neither heat nor window insulation. That means it’s super cold inside as well! Getting up in the morning is definitely tough… To fix this, we have some space heaters,…

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What went wrong in climate legislation in 2009/2010

What went wrong in climate legislation in 2009/2010

This week I came across a very interesting report. Theda Skocpol (a totally badass Political Science professor at Harvard) took a look at the reasons why liberals were successful in passing Obamacare but not with Cap & Trade for carbon emissions. It’s quite a read at 133 pages, and I figured my post this week could take a look. However, in my research for this post, I ended going down the rabbit hole of debates on Grist about this article- somehow I missed…

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Bret Victor’s ‘driving principle’: necessary but not sufficient

Bret Victor’s ‘driving principle’: necessary but not sufficient

A little while ago I finally got around to watching Bret Victor’s “Inventing on Principle”. Transcript here. The main realization that Brett is trying to get across is that the most successful and most satisfied humans are those who have devoted their life to a driving principle. An example of this is would be Richard Stallman with free software, Alan Kay with a goal to ‘amplify human reach, and bring new ways of thinking to a faltering civilization that desperately needed…

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Automated monitoring of web pages using Page2RSS, Feedly and IFTTT

Automated monitoring of web pages using Page2RSS, Feedly and IFTTT

So you are an activist trying to keep a pulse on the community you’re serving. Unfortunately, you have little time and a lot of web pages, groups, and updates to keep track of. Luckily, by using a few simple tools, you can automate away much of your busy work, leaving you more time to tackle the hard stuff. This post will show you how to use these tools to automatically monitor any web page to notify you when there are…

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Change the narrative: privacy should be considered as a type of property to protect it

Change the narrative: privacy should be considered as a type of property to protect it

Thinking about the recent Verizon/PRISM/Muscular releases, the StopWatchingUs protest, and seeing the same “I’ve got nothing to hide” argument come up again, I’ve been thinking that perhaps the way to solve this from a public image perspective is to change the narrative in society. Instead of fighting for privacy arguing about privacy’s intrinsic value, we can discuss privacy as a form of personal property and gain some of property’s protections for privacy. That idea may have some cons, but perhaps could…

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Is investing in Mosaic a smart move?

Is investing in Mosaic a smart move?

Note: I am not a financial expert, and while I have invested using the Mosaic platform, I do not get commissions of any kind for blogging about it I was recently telling a friend that he should consider investing via the Mosaic platform, a sort of crowdfunding platform for solar installations. Similar to Lendingtree or Prosper, investors see vetted projects with varying rates of return based on the riskiness of the loan, as determined by Mosaic. Mosaic takes a 1% cut, as…

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See the template a spam commenter uses for comments

See the template a spam commenter uses for comments

I was looking at the comments section (yes, I’ll sign up for Akismet now- I am sick of dealing with it) and saw that one spammer had miscoded their bot. The bot posts an entire wall of text which appears to be their templates for all comments! I picked out one that I received a spam comment from the day before. Check it out, below, and hope that it doesn’t ruin my SEO to have it here… {Hοwԁу|Ηi theгe|Heу thеre|Hello|Hey}…

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