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Proof in the pudding (phone)

I always say you get out what you put in. I believe this holds true for just about everything in life. I put in a lot at my job, and on Friday my job gave me the phone I wanted and have been waiting for. I will say it again, YOU GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN.

(this is just one example, it really does apply to just about everything in life)

The Only True Fortune Cookie I’ve Seen

I went to lunch with my Mom today, we went to Pei Wei. After we finished eating, I had Dan Dan Noodles (so good), we opened our fortune cookies. I cannot remember what my Moms was because it was boring, lame, and entirely untrue as most fortune cookies are. I say most because the fortune in my cookie, although not a fortune, was very poignant. It read “Don’t pursue happiness – create it” which was a funny fortune cookie for me to get. This is something I have realized since I was a little kid and once I reached the age of 18 I really had a grasp of this concept. No one or nothing can make you happy except yourself. So many people look to the future, another person, material items, God, or “waiting it out” to be happy. True happiness can only come from within when you are happy not only with yourself but where you are in your life. The “next step”, a significant other, money, or fate cannot make anyone happy, those things can be a catalyst to happiness but only when the term content is too mediocre a word to describe your state of being. Even though I have a firm grasp on this concept I can lapse, life is tough at times. Let this be a reminder to both me and you, Don’t pursue happiness – create it.

Who is that guy anyway?

This is my plea. It is quite possibly the most important plea I will make all year.

Friday night I went to go see Saosin, my favorite band, perform at the Filmore in Denver. And when I say I went to see them perform it is because they play their music flawlessly while being extremely entertaining. While this time around wasn’t their best it is still better than many and most other bands around. While at the show I had the opportunity to see The Devil Wears Prada and Underoath as well. First time seeing TDWP while I’ve seen Underoath a half dozen times, or so. It was seeing these two bands in combination that made me realize I had to make this plea:

FIRE THE SYNTH PLAYER!

That’s right, the band member that plays around on that Casio or Korg has got to go. Don’t mistake this for me saying I don’t want the synth in the music, without it I think both those bands (and many others) would not be as cohesive. Bands like Enter Shikari, Underoath, The Devil Wear Prada, and other have a presence on CD that is amplified by the differentiation in tone that the synth offers compared to the rest of the instrumentation. Formulaic bands with guitars, bass, and a drummer can be transformed into something more exciting with a synth. However, the live show has never and will never benefit from the chubby band mate that presses a key or two every 2 minutes. The band is better off with an iPOD and the extra cash in their pockets at the end of the night. Allow me for a moment to describe the stage presence of the synth player and then perhaps you will agree with my plea.

As the band walks out onto the stage (probably dimly lit) he is the one with both hands raised high in the air begging the crowd to praise him. He walks up to his rig (because he has multiple keyboards and a laptop out it is officially a rig) and presses a key on the Korg, doesn’t matter what key since it is programmed to play once any key it pressed. He scrolls the laptop pad and makes a few clicks on the laptop but there is no real change in the sound, still the Korg plays on. Then the rest of the band begins to play and the synth player takes two minutes to frantically headband out of rhythm and shake his arms around about his head. Finally he presses another key and goes on to rock out again. For the bands not big enough to have the laptop yet fear not he is have a break from rocking out so hard by being the dude to grab a water bottle and throw it on the crowd, that’s always sure to entrance the moshing 16 year olds. Finally as the show is coming to an end he is the one to press his last key on the rig and head off stage, a full 3 minutes before the song is even over.

To the bands, if you have any sense of showmanship left in you please heed my plea and FIRE THE SYNTH PLAYER!

TOYS!

So my homies at Joy Engine/Cypher 13 began this project called Soft & Furry months ago. They handmade some 100 or so toys and them sent them around the world (and locally) to be modified, designed, and birthed into full fledged characters. On September 13 they hosted a show at the Plastic Chapel in Denver to reveal what the artists from across the globe had created out of their molds. No one could have expected some of the toys that had been created. My favorite, was purchased by my boss Randall and is currently hiding out in his office. It is a modification of the Groond mold by Kristian Kluver and looks like this:
Which is incredible seeing as how the toy started as something like this:

I ended up purchasing a sibling set that was designed by a design firm in Australia called TOKO, here are the toys:


And I love them. I love them so much so that I made them little houses to hangout it on my wall. Not a ton of effort was put into the homes, or the picture taking but you can have a peak below. I figured building them a display was the least I could do since they had another sibling that was killed by a laser! Its a long but totally true story that is too heart wrenching to tell on a blog. The homes:


Voting, is it pointless, altrusitic, or something else?

Here is a great video from PBS that describes the economics of voting in laymen terms. It features one of the worlds most respected economists, Gordon Tullock.

Here is one of my favorite economists, Tyler Cowen, on voting:

Most of what you do is for expressive value anyway, so you shouldn’t feel guilty about voting, if indeed you vote. The people who think they are being instrumentally rational by not voting are probably deceiving themselves more. They are actually engaged in an even less transparent form of expressive behavior (protest against the voting system) and yet cloaking that behavior under the guise of instrumental rationality. The best arguments against voting are simply if you either don’t like voting or if you don’t know which candidate is better. High-status people hardly ever offer the latter justification, even though the split of opinions among high-status people suggests that not all high-status people can in fact know which candidate is better.

In other words, both voting and not voting are motivated by the thought that you are better than other people. I am glad that we have an entire day devoted to this very important concept.

And here is an abstract of a paper by Julio Rotemberg on voting altruism:

This paper presents a goal-oriented model of political participation based on two psychological assumptions. The first is that people are more altruistic towards individuals that agree with them and the second is that people’s well-being rises when other people share their personal opinions. The act of voting is then a source of vicarious utility because it raises the well-being of individuals that agree with the voter. Substantial equilibrium turnout emerges with nontrivial voting costs and modest altruism. The model can explain higher turnout in close elections as well as votes for third-party candidates with no prospect of victory. For certain parameters, these third party candidates lose votes to more popular candidates, a phenomenon often called strategic voting. For other parameters, the model predicts “vote-stealing” where the addition of a third candidate robs a viable major candidate of electoral support.

Here is the paper.

Here is another article on the altruistic nature of voting.

Are people really this altruistic? And if so what is their behavior like the other 364 days of the year? When going to the polls think about this and if you are that altruistic maybe it is time you act like it in other ways as well.

In American politics where every single voter is marginalized not only by the scope of the system but the tyrannical two-parties that run it, one can argue that a vocalized political stance against involvement in such a system would be more effective in truly changing the political schema. Voting because someone tells you to, or calls you names if you don’t, is truly indicative of the level of American politics. This is why for 220 plus years there has been two dominate parties. And it is that same mindset that will perpetuate those two same major parties controlling American politics well into the future. True change comes from the people, not the parties or candidates they vote for.

Concerts

When I was in high school music was my life. Music was literally the only important thing to me and it consumed everything about me. Then I met my friends and they were the most important thing. Now I have a better balance of the elements that make up my life. However, when music was my reason for existence I went to shows all the time. I remember 2 week stints where I would go to a show every night, take a night off, and then do another 2 weeks. Good times.

On Thursday I went and saw The Faint, still one of the most crisp sounding bands in a live setting. They can replicate the sounds, tones, rhythm, and feel that is on their CD, but with a few hundred other folks to dance with.

Last night, Halloween, I went to a house show and it brought me back to booking house shows and warehouse shows for my friends bands. I remember making connections around town and meeting all kinds of people who felt the same way I did, DIY!

Tonight I prepare to go to see my friends performing once again, although this time it is a little different. They are playing at a legitimate venue and have support from large companies to make their music their lives.

It is interesting to me that after all the years of being around and working hard and standing for something, that I may have moved out of music being my life. And other people I know have moved into it. I would not change anything that has happened and love my life and where things have taken me. I love that my friends are successful at what they are doing and even if it wasn’t music, I want them to do well. I guess I am just being nostalgic for the years when music reigned. Also, I’m super excited to revert back to my 16 year old ways since I feel more like a 46 year old these days.

State of the economy

Everytime I tell someone now what my major was in college the common response is “well, with the state of the economy, what is your opinion? what do you think we should do?” This is an extremely tough question to answer for two reasons. One is that although economics is my major and I was great at it, the economy is tremendous that economics uses simplified models to make sense of it all, one person spending an entire lifetime can’t get very far (unless your Becker). What I know about the state of the economy is a collaboration of many other collaborations to try and make sense of it all. The second reason that is a tough question is because nothing about our economic state is defined. We are still dancing around the R word (thats recession for non-dorks), the Dow jumped almost 1k yesterday (a dramatic turn), and many of the key elements to a textbook recession just aren’t there (what does a credit crunch really look like then?).

My opinion on the state of the economy is that it is down… duh! Who cares about a text book recession, or a bank crisis, or what the fed is going to do tomorrow. If you are feeling the hit in your wallet and your emotional state then the economy is down. Ready for the shocker? Who cares about that either. We know that the economy is cyclical and Keynes showed that there are actions that can smooth it out, even if you can’t name what will do it in jargon you have been taught it through common sense and general money management (I hesitate to say money management since in America we spend 101% of all the money we make, not including government debt, we should call it debt management). Keynes thought we need government to get us out of a downturn but I just think we need smarter consumers. Government is an option but not the only one.

In a downturn if people pull their money out of the economy and out of investment the economy will have nothing to recover, think of it like a complex game of marbles. If no one is bringing any marbles to the table it wont draw anyone else to bring their marbles, everyone is standing around holding their marbles which are now worth nothing since you can’t even use them. Put your money into the economy to make it worth something, but do it in a smart way. Only invest when the interest rate is good, interest rates although set by the Fed are a market and you can get a better deal than what is first offered to you, play the market. If investing isn’t your style then spend the disposable income you have, people like to save in a downturn “for a rainy day”, but this is the rainy day and if you don’t spend it could become a hurricane. Make sure you are smart and cover your needs but then go out and buy tangible goods that will be of good use to you for the future (like a bike!).

And lastly, although it is extremely difficult don’t let it ruin your life. It is temporary, it will pass. Luckily we have many smart people who are brave enough to stay out of government and make their impact from elsewhere, maybe Helicopter Ben will read their books and blogs and make some good moves to pull us out quicker.

P.S. Please don’t read this and take it all to heart. Hopefully it sparked some interest and you read up more on the economy. I am not the only say and there are a lot of people who are smarter than I am that would disagree with me (and a lot that would agree).

So thats why they started the saloon….

So the last few days I have been going out with different people every night. Between the friends and co-workers, new friends and even the people I’ve never met before, I have come to realize a few things.

  1. I still have the best friends in the world. My friends are better in every sense than most of the people out there.
  2. Age doesn’t matter much, I have been the 22 year old approaching the 40 year olds, and then some of the people I have been with were the 42 year old approaching the 20 year old.
  3. Age matters a little, I hope I can rock it like Max D when I’m in my 40s.
  4. Going out is great to break up monotony. I could easily get bogged down in work and find an excuse to not go out but when the opportunity arises I find myself saying YES! and really enjoying myself.
  5. So much more can happen when you go out rather than staying in. Both good and bad, but at least something is happening. After all isn’t change good? (Real change, not Obama change)
  6. There is always the drunk KSU fans or girls in wigs a week before Halloween to make fun of and who doesn’t feel better about themselves after a good senseless verbal bashing from a safe distance
  7. I LOVE my friends. (See #1)