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Double Tax Issue on Patreon

November 3rd, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
Would love to be shown wrong here, but as far as I've found, money on @Patreon is taxed for both patron and creator. In any other situation, only the giver or receiver is taxed, not both. Donations to non-profits are deductible, salaries of employees are deductible expense for the employer, even traditional non-Patreon patron/sponsorship arrangements are at least some form of write-off/expense for the sponsor.  But for Patreon, unless you go through the excessive effort of establishing yourself as a company with an elaborate case for how giving to artists is business-related or straight up start a non-profit organization yourself, the money you give on Patreon is going to be from income you paid taxes on, and then that creator also pays taxes on it as their income.

This is a simplification of the math but just to illustrate: If you made $100k this year and wanted to give away half to artists on Patreon, you literally can't because $50k is owed to taxes and you actually only...[More]
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The Mindset of Money

April 15th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
It seems I can't get a dinner anymore without overhearing talk about blockchain. One point I keep hearing that irks me though is that government wouldn't restrict the crypto industry because of how much money they could make by letting it flourish.  That is just wrong on so many levels.  Whether a law exists or not has nothing to do with making money.  It doesn't matter if everyone got paid or the government gets a cut.  Otherwise by that logic, you might as well say the government should let drug trafficking and black markets flourish because of "how much money they could make."  It's like if a cop let someone go for stealing because the cop got a share.  As long as everyone gets a piece, what's the harm? Unfortunately this kind of thinking seems to be the norm in crypto and really just finance in general, where right or wrong is decided solely by whether money is made.
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NYC vs SF vs LA

March 15th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
After splitting my time evenly between New York, San Francisco, and LA for about three years, a semi-humorous comparison of the three cities.

Make the world a “better” place.
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Political Correctness is 1984's Newspeak

July 30th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
I just saw an article about the University of New Hampshire's "Bias-Free Language Guide" this morning.  At first, I thought it was a joke or satirical post of some sort on political correctness, as it seemed like something straight out of Orwell's 1984, but it was on the college's official site as an actual resource.  It's since been taken down, but it's hard to "unpublish" webpages now, especially if it's been up for years. I managed to save a static HTML copy here: University of New Hampshire's Bias-Free Language Guide (as of Jul.29 2015)

I often say the peak of my last 10 years was in high school, that things just went downhill through college where so many seemed to get brainwashed into robots or beaten into conformity.  I don't know if it's college itself or just society in general.  I've literally had peers tell me they made some decision x because it was "socially validated" (data driven, has reviews, whatever); I didn't even know that phrase existed before.  Other times it would be that they do x because of how they label themselves (I code because I'm an engineer) or because of some vague catch phrases that say nothing about why they *personally* made the decision (I work in x because it's "disruptive," "innovative," and "makes the world a better place.").  Recently, I just came out of a presentation where someone proclaimed, "Let me paint you a picture," and then proceeded to say, "Imagine your name is Tom." What in the world does your name being Tom look like?? It adds absolutely nothing. The presenter was just blindly throwing together phrases with no conscious attempt to paint anything, no different than a machine simply doing pattern recognition or copy-pasting metaphors. It's as if people just speak in soundbites now because that's what they're *supposed* to say without actually thinking about what they're trying to say or why they're saying it.  Nothing has meaning anymore.  Nothing has intent. It's all the more ironic then when I come across a university actually spelling out for its students explicitly how to think and talk.

One novel that immediately comes to mind is Orwell's 1984.  When I first read it in high school, most my peers and I thought it very unrelatable, but now it's pretty scary how close we're getting to some of its themes.  Here are some comparisons to illustrate the point:

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The Perfect Storm for Silicon Valley

June 19th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
"Thoughts on Exuberance in Silicon Valley"

The last few years have been pretty incredible for the San Francisco Bay Area.  You really have to have lived here as I have to see how easily capital has flowed into the area, the effects of it trickling into nearly every industry even remotely tech related.  Just two years ago, there was San Francisco being more expensive than most cities but not quite at the level of New York or other top tier cities.  Now an apartment that once rented for $2500 can command mid-$3000s or higher.  A place the size of a walk-in closet at under 200 sqft can be found at $1700 or more.  When I first graduated college in 2013, the predominant attitude I saw in my peers was still that of caution and skepticism about the job market.  Now I have peers who have literally switched full time tech jobs every 4 months, some who would buy up an armful of snacks at a convenience store only to throw it all away...[More]
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Overemphasis on Numbers

January 21st, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
This is primarily a response to Erik McClure's blog post on age discrimination.

I'm of the same age, followed a roughly similar path through school, and also thought that young adults in general were fully capable if given the chance. I've since graduated and moved to the SF Bay Area though; you'd be surprised just how many new college grads actually cannot think freely and critically. I'm sure you must have seen at least a few headlines pointing out some of the absurdity in Silicon Valley now. (Having lived here for 6 years now, I'd say the media actually understates how nonsensical some of the thinking around here is, but that's for another discussion.) That's not to say we should box people up even more when they're younger, just that I can see where some of the prejudice is coming from (yet it can be argued that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy from treating people like drones in the first place).

Speaking on just my own experience in the SF Bay Area though, my thoughts are not so much that the issue is a prejudice against age as much as the issue is an overemphasis on credentials, test scores, and numbers in general. The problems with education today are what I personally see more as part of an overall lack of critical and creative thinking in society - too much data driven. People just want to look at some threshold, do an if-greater-then condition, and be done. If you look at some of the most talented programmers, as an example, many actually do not have a formal degree in Computer Science or are self taught; recruiting based on numbers like we do now would never find them and actually weed them out. On the other side of things, I've met engineers from Ivy League schools who can barely code but get the job nonetheless from great marks in school; some cannot build a program from scratch at all unless you give them the skeleton to fill in the details on, which is arguably the bulk of the work.  I've come across engineers from firms as prestigious as Google who would not even dare explore restaurants without some external confirmation of their decisions, justifying their decisions with "social validation" (their words, not mine); there's actual fear in their eyes at the thought of going somewhere that doesn't have enough Yelp reviews, fear of the uncertainty and making any decision not backed with numbers. Of course, this is flawed thinking, lots of appeal to majority, authority, and other fallacies, but the sad part is a lot of our peers who do this most likely are not even aware of what things like logical fallacies are (in a non-math context). If you've read books like "City and the Stars" or "Childhood's End", it is getting quite close to that at least in some pockets of the country.

I agree with...[More]
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Lack of Ambition in the Bay Area

May 29th, 2014 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
A year ago, I wrote of my frustrations in finding others who were hungry or wanting to take over the world.  I couldn't put my finger on why I was stuck in the situation (and still am).  I thought perhaps it was a generational gap, since my social circles mainly consisted of people who were often more than 8 years older than me when I was in middle and high school.  At other times, I thought it was perhaps society degrading overall and becoming more flakey, passive.

I'm starting to wonder if perhaps I just don't belong on the west coast though, or at least in the bay area.  I've been reading more about the east coast (and just other places in general); this article, for example, mentions how ambition is often shunned in the bay and that really hit home for me as that is the treatment I get from most my peers:

Likewise the herd mentality to do what's cool or trendy rather than find something...[More]
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