The Economics of “Too Old”

At what point in life do we start to acknowledge that we are too old for something? When I was in my early teens (the 90’s if you couldn’t guess by my writing style and subjects) I would watch skateboarding videos and think “yeah, if I keep at it I’ll be able to do that someday.” Now I watch skate videos on YouTube and I’m like “fuck, I wouldn’t even jump off that if someone was chasing me with a knife.”

This goes deeper than the simple denial of “you can do anything you put your mind to” (thanks mom). The decision to not even attempt grinding a handrail is perfectly rational.  The risk of hurting myself and missing work and paying hospital bills is too great to justify taking a chance at the thrill and glory of riding a railing down a flight of stairs on a skateboard. Same deal with tattoos. I think they’re cool, but the value of having another one is too small to justify paying a few hundred bucks to sit in a chair getting jabbed by a needle for several hours.

This is the economics of “too old.”

I mean, who cares, right? What difference does it make in my life or anyone else’s if I never become a heavily tattooed sick skateboarder?  But, the economics of too old applies in every area of life and becomes a lot scarier in other contexts. I’m starting to worry about getting too old to realistically consider a 30 year mortgage; too old to start saving money;  too old to retire; too old to die.

More than just for myself, I’m worried about society. I’m “lucky” to have 30 years of working life left, so I’m not too old for those important things yet. But a lot of people are.  Not just people in their 60’s but people in their 40’s who don’t have savings. It’s almost irrational for them to start now. If you know you’re going to be working until your death anyway, why not spend your money now and enjoy it? If too many people do this (and a lot of them already are) then we are going to have a massive social problem that the government has never proven it can solve.

(and, I guess, FWIW, when I was 24 I realized that eating like I was still going through puberty wasn’t yet a problem, but would be if I kept it up. For those who didn’t realize it, watch out).

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Strange Call

On Friday I was on a call. It was 4 hours long and at one point it cut out for a few minutes.  When it picked back up “… No,  were not doctors but the point is that my father had an inoperable brain aneurysm a few years ago and the question was whether he could get on a plane…”

I have no context for that statement and am uncertain of its relevance.

Wasted vs. Valuable Time

One day I took a 2 hour train ride for an event. I worked on the train and from a library at my destination. The event was almost a bust. The one useful piece of information I learned was preceded by the admonition “if you tell anybody about this I’ll break your kneecaps.” After lunch and train tickets, the day cost me about $70, with no loss in productivity. If I had a cheaper lunch I’d say I got good value.

The Sustainability Scam

I received an e mail this morning about how to make the holidays more sustainable in the workplace.  It seems to me that every time I hear about sustainability the idea is not thought through all the way. My responses to the suggestions follow.

1. Consider alternatives to buying “stuff” for people.  Initially this sounds like a great idea,  but it falls apart at the “alternatives.” The recommended alternatives include making something or making dinner. Well, if I make something I either have to buy the supplies or have bought them in the past. In sustainability terms it’s no different from buying a gift, except that it arguably takes more time. On the idea of making dinner, no one who received this e-mail eats sustainably; it’s impossible in middle-class western society. That’s why no one subsistence farms. Adding a guest for dinner surely increases waste.

2. Work from home days. This suggestion is intended to reduce your carbon footprint because the power stays off at the office and cars stay off the road. But then every household that would have the power off during the day is now running lights, heat, laptops, etc. Is it more sustainable to run one small office filled with people, or several households with relatively few people?  This isn’t sustainable, it just shifts the cost burden from employer to employee.

3. Close the office for a day so that the team can volunteer. I’m mostly ok with this one,  but it’s still questionable. What about the clients/customers who have paid for a timely result? What about the paychecks that the company needs to write regardless of whether productive work gets done? Volunteering on a work day accomplishes neither requirement.

4. Make a new year’s resolution to use green energy.  I’m skeptical about the premise of green energy,  but that’s a subject for another entry.  Given how few resolutions are kept,  how tight cash usually is in January, and that the suggestion said nothing about how green energy will save money, I think I’ll pass.

5. Fundraise for the environment. This sounds basically the same as #3 and doesn’t necessarily accomplish anything sustainable.

Bad Dreams

I had a bad dream last night. I was celebrating my birthday at a vineyard (which is odd in itself because my birthday is in the winter and I’m not really in to wine). During the celebration I got a call from my bank telling me that the SEC had frozen my accounts (which is also odd because they don’t/can’t do that without a court order and my account is too small to be worthwhile).

Bad dreams, some might say all dreams, require some examination. I have often believed that my dreams are symbolically prophetic, but I’ve never bothered to keep detailed records and I think the existing research contradicts me.  Analyzing my dream under my theory suggests that my cash flow will become restricted sometime soon. It could be that just means the typical,  if excessive,  holiday spending,  but in any case it’s worth watching the accounts more carefully for the next few months.

On a related note, this dream at least proves that I’ve been falling back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night these past few weeks. I’m not sure if I prefer a stressful sleep over being awake, but my body may appreciate it.

And,  of course, there’s always the possibility that it’s just a stupid dream that I could have easily forgotten like most of my other dreams and shouldn’t give it a second thought.  Something about a bad dream punctuating a couple weeks of bad sleep though makes me think I need to adjust the way I’m living.

Fake News

“Your father-in-law told me that the fact I’m hot and sweaty all the time means I probably have high blood pressure.” My father-In-law is so overweight that he has sleep apnea and diabetes, and he can’t lose the weight because his knee is fucked up, which is also related to his weight problems. Why would you take health advice from someone who is clearly out of shape and has a long list of self –  inflicted health problems? You could ignore that advice before the words were even spoken on a completely irrational basis and still be 100% correct. But, second, why even store the information?  Getting your own blood pressure checked is as easy as going to the grocery store or pharmacy. Literally. That’s where you can get your blood pressure checked. Why fret about something somebody told you when getting the real info is so easy?

A couple folks signed up for a computer monitoring service called iYogi, and now they are getting telemarketing calls from the company several times a day. Come to find out that iYogi has been sued by several state attorney generals for deceptive trade practices.  So I told them to write to the AG in their state.  Luckily, they were able to get help from “a guy” they knew to uninstall the software and as a result hadn’t paid any more money to iYogi.

So here’s the thing. First, why would anyone ever purchase anything from a company called iYogi for Christ’s sake? I mean, I get it that you trust your anti virus provider, but is the impulse to reach for your credit card so strong that there is no time to pause and think? Second, these people have a “guy” for their computer. Why not call and ask him first? And third, if they are getting calls after uninstalling the software, why are they picking up the phone? Just block the number.

I started a show on Netflix last night.  Can’t remember the name,  but it’s narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal and it’s supposed to be a documentary about modern restrictions on liberty in the U.S..  government spying,  arresting protesters, hacking,  that type of thing. In the opening credits they mis quote the first amendment,  substituting the word “pass” for the word “make.” Right there you know this show is crap because if they can’t get the most simple and obvious thing right then the rest of their research is going to be just as sloppy, or worse. The first page of a Google search will yield a full list of credible sources including constitution.org, the government printing office,  and Cornell law school. Moreover, I’m pretty sure every show on Netflix is reviewed by a first amendment lawyer before it airs, so it’s not just the production team that sucks.  And finally, a show about the U.S. government would have to have at least some filming done in Washington DC, which means they could have walked to the library of Congress and copied the O.G. constitution for the quote. I turned that shit off before the opening credits were done.

I suppose all of this is particularly relevant in light of the recent “fake news” “controversy.” The first thing to understand is that all news is fake news to some degree. So, presume fakeness. Better yet, forget about the news.  Some people say “how are you going to know what’s going on in the world?” But, if all news is fake news, then news can’t be the answer to that question. At best, consuming news is a completely passive activity designed to minimize the guilt you feel for sitting around doing nothing. Even the fake news story itself is partially fake,  which makes it neither real nor fake; just another story and a boring one at that.  Seek your own truth. Actively.

Thanksgiving Recap

Good family time as always. In keeping with a recent tend of ‘how to deal with your… this thanksgiving’ I would like to offer a radical proposal: 1. Embrace the fact that you disagree. 2. Listen to their points and make yours. 3. Chill your ads out and enjoy yourself because it’s not that big a deal.

By applying this formula I had a great chat with a relative today.  Not only that,  but everybody else was happy that I took him on so that they didn’t have to engage.  Our conversation didn’t veer into chem trail territory, but according to my sources he’s a believer.  In addition to a lively conversation, I got to rattle his cage a bit,  which is a particularly find pastime for me.

But putting aside my penchant for messing with people, I think we may have had a productive discussion. It started with an anecdote about flu shots. I have no doubt about the efficacy of flu shots,  but I don’t personally believe in them for myself. I prefer to fight the flu on my own on the theory that strengthening my immune system is better for me in the long run.  When I told someone in the office about this theory she challenged me by asking if I had ever truly had the flu. I joked that I had never had the flu precisely because I strengthened my immune system by not taking flu shots.

Common ground!  My relative doesn’t believe in flu shots either. He noted that the way ‘they’ make a flu shot every year is by taking 3-4 strains of the virus to give to you to make you immune to those strains. “If you catch a different strain of the virus,” he said, “then the flu shot is useless.”

“Exactly!” I agreed. I went on to point out that the viruses that don’t fall prey to the antibodies made in response to the flu shot survive and propagate. “In essence,  your witnessing evolution of the virus on a very fast time scale.”

“Well you’re wrong there,” my relative challenged “because evolution isn’t true.” Okay, fine. Some people aren’t comfortable with evolution as a principle that explains why things are the way they are. I clarified that you don’t need to see evolution as the Truth in a philosophical sense to accept it as a technological tool that informs modern medicine. “What’s happening when you take a flu shot is that the viruses best suited to the new environment survive.  That’s natural selection in action.”

His rebuttal began with “Let me prove something to you…” and then started to become incoherent.  Putting aside the reality that you can’t prove anything unless the evidence readily available, according to my relative evolution is false because Charles Darwin had 8 kids and some of them were fucked up.  Look,  if the guy’s logic is that fucked up kids discredits a theory then I’m not sure I’m going to be able to reason with him.

Among the other ridiculous things I heard him say were:

– i could fix the problems in this country with one law:  if you lie,  you die.
–  the penalty for speeding should be a $5,000 fine;  the third speeding ticket should be a jail sentence (apparently the impracticality of this proposal is not the fact that there aren’t enough jail cells to hold all the traffic violators,  but “too many liberals”).
-i know the higher law
–  the three wise men knew where Jesus was because good spoke to Daniel in a dream,  who  told them where to go (I don’t have enough backgrounds knowledge to evaluate this claim but he acknowledged it was his own theory,  not something he heard from an expert)
– holistic photon therapy kills cancer.  By the logic that one person went to Sweden to get treatment and came back cured.

I realize it’s kind of jarring to read it in point form like that,  but that’s really how the conversation went.  It was as if the secret cure for cancer was somehow germane to the issue of the best way to run the government. And,  just to re iterate (reiterate is kind of a stupid word;  if it’s already an iteration there’s no need to “re” it) I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation.  Lively debates make me tick, and if I can get someone else wound up,  all the better.  Of course, I wouldn’t want to go through this every weekend.

Shameless

There’s a show on Netflix right now called Shameless and I think it’s dumb. I can’t tell for sure but I think it’s supposed to be funny.  If you’ve ever watched Jerry Springer and thought ‘I’d like to see a show based on the guests everyday lives’ then I guess there’s some humor in Shameless. But that’s just laughing at people because you think you’re better than them, which begs the question: are you really?

Fungus Removal

Yesterday I overheard an infomercial for treatment to remove nail fungus. I was waiting in the same room as the people watching it on a phone.  According to the ad, big pharma is fighting “tooth and nail” (pun intended?) to keep this stuff off the shelf. The suggested price was $299; $99 if you order in the next 30 minutes,  and some other pressure tactic that lowered it to $69. That’s still a lot for a few grams of something supposedly legal.

For me, the fact that it’s advertised on YouTube is reason enough to call bullshit. But, maybe there is good reason to challenge my thinking on this. I don’t mean challenging the conclusion that this stuff is bullshit. Obviously it is. I mean using reasoning to get there without resorting to looking stuff up.

Start with something everyone knows:  mushrooms are a type of fungus. Mushrooms thrive in dank environments, often surrounded by manure. If fungus is growing on your nails then you have created an environment where fungus can thrive. As long as that environment is sustained no product can help.

Someone once told me that peeing on your feet cites athlete’s foot, which is also a type of fungus. I’m not sure if this works or why it would, but it’s at least worth a try before spending 70 bucks on infomercial garbage.

And lastly, I don’t know, maybe try going to the doctor.  Of course,  the infomercial has tried to brainwash you into thinking your doctor brainwashed you,  but in light of everything that medical science has accomplished,  maybe a visit to a walk -in clinic is cheaper and more effective?