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Comment: From a non-driver perspective (Score 4, Insightful) 218

by dada21 (#47589001) Attached to: The Great Taxi Upheaval

I stopped driving 2 years ago, voluntarily. My SUV cost me around $800 a month in replacement costs. Another $200 in maintenance. I was burning through $12,000 a year in gas. I spent an average of 1000 hours a year in the car, for work, for groceries, for fun. 999 of those hours were spent focused on the road. I hate talking on the phone while driving.

Consider my annual total: about $25,000 + 1000 hours of my time. For the "privilege" to sit in Chicago traffic.

I'm a consultant. I now use UberX every day. I also use public transportation when I'm not in a rush or when someone isn't paying me to swing by.

I spent about $5000 a year on UberX. $100 a week. While I am being driven around, I can respond to emails, make phone calls. I bill for that time. When a customer wants me to visit them, I pass the UberX fee on to them plus 50%. No one scoffs at it. Some customers will realize the cost of me visiting them is more expensive than just consulting over the phone.

I figure I'm $20,000 ahead in vehicle costs, plus I've literally gained another 600-700 hours of phone and email consulting time a year. Call it $40,000 ahead.

I don't take cabs, because they don't like to come to where my HQ is (ghetto neighborhood). UberX comes 24/7, within minutes.

My little sister had an emergency surgery a few months ago. I immediately hired an UberX driver, who took me from the office, to the hospital. He waited. We then took my sister to her apartment to get her cats and clothes, then he took us to the pharmacy. After, he drove us to our dad's house to drop her off, in the suburbs of Chicago. Then he drove me back to work. 3 hours, $90. I can't get a cab to wait even 10 minutes while I drop off a package at UPS. Forget about them taking credit cards.

UberX charges my Paypal account and they're off. If they're busy, they charge a surcharge. I can pick it or take public transportation.

I know why the Chicago Taxi authorities want Uber gone. But a guy like me is their best customer. Next year I'll budget $10,000 a year for UberX, and it will make my life so much more enjoyable and profitable.

Driving yourself around is dead. It's inefficient. Ridesharing is "libertarian" because it is truly freeing.

Comment: Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 1) 701

by Bob_Robertson (#43968329) Attached to: The Free State Project, One Decade Later

"where segregated lunch counters don't exist"

Segregated by law. Look it up.

"than some kkk asshat being able to tell me to move to some other city where my "kind" is tolerated"

Like sheriffs and politicians do?

"to the days where I could be pushed out of a store with a shotgun just for being the wrong skin color."

You really, really need to read some history. You would learn that the bus companies did not want to discriminate, discrimination was the law. You would learn that the US was the only country in the world to eliminate chattel slavery through war, which left some bad feelings. You would learn that the poverty rate was dropping continuously until the Great Society enshrined poverty and ensured that there would always be poor to "care for".

Maybe, just maybe, you've been blaming the wrong people all your life. But don't let facts get in the way of a good "Oh Woe Is Me, Give Me More Money" sob story.

Comment: Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 1) 701

by Bob_Robertson (#43968297) Attached to: The Free State Project, One Decade Later

For someone who then talks about enslaved Oompa Loompas, you seem to have a very insincere grasp of Liberty.

If the hippies want to set up a socialist utopia, they are welcome to do so, on their own time and land. Some have.

If the libertarians don't want to pay taxes, then again they are welcome to pay the FULL COSTS of their decisions, no externalizing costs through taxes and regulations.

After all, if the Oompa Loompas can be can be said to be enslaved, then taxation must be recognized as armed robbery.

Comment: Don't be an idiot (like I was) - max-out on math! (Score 1) 656

Early 30s, undereducated, curmudgeonly, senior software developer here.

Not only is math my weakest area, but that weakness was probably partly due to my self-defeating and self-fulfilling belief that I didn't *need* much math, so I got my CS degree from a shitty university with just through Calc 2 and a couple non-calculus-based stats classes. No linear algebra, no dynamics, no quantum-anything, no Fourier analysis, no algebraic topology, no number theory, no discrete math, etc..

And so I've spent the last decade writing stupid CRUD-and-forms apps. It's boring shit that only pays high-5-figures (in my top-3-by-population U.S. city as I work in university research, though I am repeatedly sought by some of the biggest names among tech employers. But I choose my current employer for the work-life balance).

But to go anywhere more-interesting -- say, working on self-driving cars, or data-mining stocks or health data, or building robots -- I need more math. Shit.

I have taught myself some linear algebra from a LA book, at least, as well as learned some slightly less-basic stats (e.g. Markov models) and taken a couple graduate-level CS courses in AI and ML. But it's definitely not enough to break-free of my self-imposed intellectual chains.

So, get as much math as you can -- not because you'll definitely use it (maybe, maybe not), not because it's fun (but if it is for you, great; it is for me, when I understand it), and not because it's important for its own sake (by definition, anything that isn't eventually useful is useless), but because it gives you FLEXIBILITY later in life. And you have no way of knowing, a priori, whether you will need that flexibility.

I'm not original in this thinking. Learning more math is what Nassim Taleb would consider an example of "robustification" -- becoming robust against unknown undesirable future "bad" events or scenarios.

My strong advice: Don't be so damned efficient - or arrogant/overconfident - in your learning that you fail to robustify yourself against a future you that is smarter and wiser than the current you.

Comment: Re:I sell actual things in Bitcoin (Score 1, Interesting) 293

by dada21 (#43493797) Attached to: Drug Site Silk Road Says It Will Survive Bitcoin's Volatility

Since my financial stability for the future doesn't correlate with income nor even profit, I think my risk is pretty low. Even if volatility continues, and even if my businesses took in 50% of their revenues in BTC, I still wouldn't see any actual harm. The businesses have been around for decades, and they're self-sufficient and stable.

Converting BTC to fiat currency puts a sell-pressure on BTC. Holding BTC would reduce the selling supply, thereby reducing volatility from the sell side. It's the same with dollars: I hoard my dollars in cash "under the mattress" rather than put it in a bank to get loaned out as debt (money multiplier effect).

The "market forces" in BTC right now are pretty unique because only a small number of BTC holders are actually transacting. Most people are "long game speculators", and are neither buying things with BTC nor selling it to liquidate for fiat currency. As the number of BTC users goes up (which will likely happen when volatility is reduced), I believe we'll see a more stable platform.

Comment: Re:I sell actual things in Bitcoin (Score 1, Insightful) 293

by dada21 (#43493765) Attached to: Drug Site Silk Road Says It Will Survive Bitcoin's Volatility

I'd be happy to throw back just to the 1800s or so -- when poor people could actually save their way to wealth, where credit addiction didn't lead to thrill-seeking behavior addiction, and where the money supply wasn't a medium to fund warfare and welfare entitlements benefiting the rich and powerful.

Business regulations, money regulations and savings dilution aren't modern in any way, but they've become the norm. I'd rather see all 3 go away, or at least just become part of the nanny-state economy, not my economies.

Comment: Re:I sell actual things in Bitcoin (Score 2) 293

by dada21 (#43493671) Attached to: Drug Site Silk Road Says It Will Survive Bitcoin's Volatility

Bingo. I may be aligned with the anarcho-capitalists, but I also have no issue with government regulating the people who want government.

I don't care for money stability, I just want a bartering medium that is freed from the pressures associated with money. Bitcoin is unlikely to fund government programs -- and if the day comes that a commodity currency becomes official, it will certainly restrict government to acting within their means.

I also appreciate that Bitcoin doesn't have the money multiplier effect of credit (cards, loans, etc). People have to live within their means with Bitcoin.

Comment: I sell actual things in Bitcoin (Score 2, Interesting) 293

by dada21 (#43493353) Attached to: Drug Site Silk Road Says It Will Survive Bitcoin's Volatility

I sell physical goods and accept Bitcoin as a payment method. The volatility doesn't bug me at all. While it's only a tiny percentage of overall sales, it's still exciting to see a currency that can actually become a true bartering agent that is freed of non-market forces.

If a seller is concerned with volatility, they should consider not selling their received BTC for fiat currency. It's the number of "we accept bitcoin" sites that accept currency and then immediately convert it to fiat that is one reason for the downward pressure.

I blogged about it the other day, in how I wish governments would just make BTC to fiat currency transactions illegal. It would be a great step in reducing volatility and decoupling BTC from the regulated markets.

Comment: Re:How about a Monster.com for the non-degreed? (Score 1) 728

by dada21 (#42986217) Attached to: For Businesses, the College Degree Is the New High School Diploma

It sounds like you're projecting your own insecurities about your inability to interact with whom you want to interact with. That's too bad.

The straw man argument about "giving up" roads, postal, internet etc is irrelevant to me. I'm not political. I believe in the feudalism that has existed since the dawn of agriculture. 80% of people are serfs, 20% are lords. I'll take advantage of the system that you serfs have created, be it political, corporate, even sexual markets.

I don't support the systems, and in a truly free market guys like me would be knocked down a notch.

But we aren't. I'm still making good enough money to vacation every week or two. I have great friends who either really like me, or like the things I have access to. I sleep with great women who also take care of my domestic needs. I don't work in a cubicle or in a "team environment" and I work with the customers I want to work with -- and ones who want to work with me.

And I work when I want to work. My employees have that same freedom: if they don't need the income, they don't have to come in and field new jobs. It's pretty basic, it's how humans seem designed to operate.

Or, you can be a serf in a 9-5 job paying off a mortgage for 42 years, college debt for 20+ years, and hope you'll die being able to leave your children something of value.

You can have your society, I don't want a part of it.

Comment: Re:How about a Monster.com for the non-degreed? (Score 1) 728

by dada21 (#42985701) Attached to: For Businesses, the College Degree Is the New High School Diploma

The entire world has attempted this one-size-fits-all mentality, and it's a failure. People are unhappy with it.

I want to be with happy people in my life. I don't need the money from any one unhappy person, so I'd rather not have them in my life.

The idea that all businesses should accept all customers is insane. Should all men accept all women as possible sex partners? Should you accept any platonic friend who comes into your life?

No. We form relationships based on compatibility, and my businesses do BETTER because my clients are generally compatible with my viewpoints.

Comment: Re:Misplaced arrogance (Score 1) 728

by dada21 (#42985469) Attached to: For Businesses, the College Degree Is the New High School Diploma

"Being a self starter has nothing to do with whether or not you went to college."

Really? I don't meet too many college graduates who I would consider self-starters. Very rare, actually.

"Having a college degree isn't the only thing that matters but it can be a very useful indicator of what the person standing in front of me is capable of."

"I have several college degrees including masters in both engineering and business. I've started 5 businesses, am a certified accountant, run a manufacturing company and am on the board of a non-profit. My wife has a doctorate and does even better than I do. If you think our college degrees have held either of us back in any way you are delusional."

I'm sure they haven't held you back, but I also don't see the purpose of those degrees connecting with your 5 businesses. Sounds like you wasted a lot of time chasing degrees. I wouldn't hire you.

"So you want to hire people who have no respect for others? Nice. I'll be sure to avoid you and the people you hire."

Feminists have respect for others? Please. Progressives have respect for others? Yeah, sure, tell me another one.

"You know a lot of engineers or doctors who picked up their profession "on the streets"?"

I own an engineering company and I have no degree. Two of my consultants who work with me also don't have degrees.

And I did mention in my OP that STEM degrees can make sense -- but they aren't the end off for confirming someone's ability to engineer.

The greatest engineer I ever met, in Chicago, who has been retired just 5 years, did not have an engineer degree. And he was the #1 guy in a certain engineering field in the Midwest. My mentor, of sorts. Never went to college.

Comment: Re:How about a Monster.com for the non-degreed? (Score 1) 728

by dada21 (#42985279) Attached to: For Businesses, the College Degree Is the New High School Diploma

I refuse to subsidize bad ideology.

The idea of freedom is that we can congregate with people we like, and refuse to congregate with people we don't like.

For me, all relationships I have include an economic metric. Not a FINANCIAL metric, but economic -- both parties should gain, and both parties should invest in the relationship. It's that way with love, with sex, with family, with platonic friends, and with business.

I don't want to invest in people with shitty entitled attitudes. I tell feminists that I am anti-feminism, but they still shop from me. Some of them date me, which is insane because I am THE anti-feminist. Figure that one out.

A few years ago, I purposefully told state employees that I'd rather not do business with them. Some of them came to me and discussed it. Cops, public school teachers, even the local postal employee. I told them why I didn't want to do business with them, and they basically agreed with me. They agreed with my opinion, even though I was trying to fire them as customers.

I'm very open about my prejudices. If people want to do business with me, they either accept it, or they don't. Isn't it better to KNOW what another person believes, so you can make the decision to congregate with them, or not?

Comment: Re:How about a Monster.com for the non-degreed? (Score 1) 728

by dada21 (#42984843) Attached to: For Businesses, the College Degree Is the New High School Diploma

That's an imbecilic response.

All my companies have an open books policy. That means that even the lowliest employee can look at our accounting books, our bank statements, even my tax returns (personal identity information redacted).

I generally earn the LEAST of any business I own. If I am not at the bottom, I am pretty close to it.

If I was a capitalist overlord, I'd be earning the most.

Why do I have an open book policy? To teach my employees how to be entrepreneurs. To teach them that the $1500 job they're working on doesn't create $1500 in wealth for us, but for many suppliers, contract workers, waged workers, and sales persons.

People learn from me. I have many competitors in my field who worked for me a decade ago (or even 1 year ago). They move on to doing things themselves, or partnering up with someone else. I encourage this. Competition doesn't hurt me, it helps grow the markets I am in.

Showing my staff the books doesn't hurt me, it encourages them to work harder knowing that the wealth is shared.

The amount of weight an evangelist carries with the almighty is measured in billigrahams.

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