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Conversation with a Doctor

May 24th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
One of the more frustrating experiences I've had in a while... part of what makes the healthcare here feel pretty worthless.  Obviously not reflective of all doctors... just many my own experiences.
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Doctor: Here's a prescription drug that will relieve the symptom.  Just take it everyday from now on, and you won't feel it anymore.
Me: Is there a test or something we can do to check why it's happening? Or if it might be more serious?
Doctor: Like what?
Me: Maybe it's...[More]
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If People Talked About Internet Like They Do Blockchain

May 10th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
Person B: Have you heard of this thing called the Internet? It's the future. You should buy as many dial-up modems as you can before the price goes up.  Once the Internet becomes mainstream, we'll all be rich.
Person A: Why would the price go up?
Person B: Because adoption.  Everyone will start using the Internet.  You could use it to store information, transact, compute things... everything will be on the Internet.
Person A: Isn't that just computers in general?
Person B: No, unlike just your home computer, anything that is on the Internet stays there forever.  It's also decentralized, meaning no one can shut it down or control it.  And most importantly, it's global.  Everything has to be global nowadays.  That's the future.  Personal computing was the first revolution.  This is the next one.  Imagine if you could go back in time to the 80's before personal computing was mainstream.  This is that...[More]
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Racist Mentality

March 29th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
This is more or less a concise version of one of my points from the longer Three Tiers of Mind.  What bothers me lately is there seems to be a general shift away from why racism is bad in the first place and more towards just any mention of race is bad or that any difference in advantage is bad (aka "privilege").  What makes racism bad at its core is that you are ignoring a person's individuality and making an assumption about that person based on association to a category.  In other words, you are not seeing the person in front of you but treating that person as just one of many belonging to some arbitrary label.  That person is no longer a person with their own agency and ability to cause change in the world but just a thing, an object, something that is not you.  That's the real problem that leads to all other acts someone may commit, which everyone then reacts to as racism or other crimes.

You see this immediately in any situation you normally associate with racism.  The reason slavery was able to make sense in people's minds was the ability to ignore the individuality of any person branded under the slave label.  Removing race would have made the act no better if the hierarchy still existed (and it did/does even amongst populations of same ethnicity).  The reason there is conflict between the rich and poor is because each side uses the other as only a means to an end, treating the other as just that - an other.  Removing money or other material differences makes the situation no better if people still view each other in terms of what they have, their demographics, or other population-level traits - in terms of association and value instead of as individuals.  Objectifying, commoditizing, treating someone as merely a statistic... these are all different names and outcomes for what is essentially the same thinking process deep down.  They judge you on where you come from instead of why you came, what you represent instead of what you actually chose to do.  You're X because you're a Y, and Ys are X.  It's the act of being too lazy to think about the full context and just reacting on a trigger word, of trying to think in broad-brush rules and sweeping generalizations instead of being willing to look at each situation case-by-case.  The flaw is thinking the abstract grouping more real than the individual the abstract was created around.  

This same manner of thinking pretty much leads to any other social aspects we consider "bad." An unfulfilling job - being a cog in a machine, working under someone's thumb - happens when your individuality is disregarded and you are treated as just a faceless number amongst many.  A friend or relationship feels false when the other doesn't actually listen to you specifically but just says what could be said to anyone else.  Someone is patronizing if they give advice without knowing anything about the person they are lecturing and just assume advice is warranted.  Someone is pedantic if they are ignoring what you're trying to say and only caring about how you said it.  Even the murderous psychopath - the difference between him and a hero soldier is that he does not think about others as individuals, just objects, a kill count, again a number.

When taken...[More]
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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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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.

NYC
SF
LA
Money, status, and 9-5 life.
...[More]
551 unique view(s)

Data Does Not Equal Fact

January 24th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
"Data!=Fact: Inductive vs Deductive Reasoning"
ie Statistics vs Math
ie Engineering vs Physics

Part of my frustration with all the focus on big data, statistics, quant, and numbers in general is that these are all forms of inductive reasoning.  Amidst all the hype around being more data driven, many seem to have to forgotten that inductive reasoning only provides an estimate of world.  It does not and cannot prove anything.  Evidence alone does not provide truth.  Data does not equal fact.

There are...[More]
250 unique view(s)

Talking with an Ivy Leaguer on Wall Street

December 4th, 2017 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
Another memoirs of sorts, this time reflecting the Ivy League alumni I've been meeting in NYC, both in the startup community and on Wall Street.  I've been spending more time in NYC instead of SF for a change of location (and people), but ironically, I'm running into sort of the opposite situation to that I had in my short story, Talking with an Engineer in Silicon Valley.  Whereas many I met in Silicon Valley lacked empathy, considerateness, and other traits but at least wanted them (even if superficially), the circles I'm getting into in NYC seem to simply accept that these traits don't genuinely exist and are always superficial.  Maybe it's just my luck that I'm just somehow always meeting the most 1-dimensional people, but the frustrating part is they always start off seeming normal in the beginning.  As with my other short story, the conversations below are nearly cut-paste from my personal experience, besides obvious name changes and other details to keep individuals anonymous and the story somewhat coherent.  For those easily offended, this obviously doesn't reflect every person from Ivy League or in Wall Street and is just a likely biased, limited subset of the real world from my own experiences.

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Sam: Hi, I'm Sam.  Nice to meet you.
Ivy Leaguer:...[More]
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Three Tiers of Mind

November 11th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
This is a long piece but one I've been thinking through for a long time.  I've come gradually to see people as being in one of three Tiers when it comes to their motivations, mindset, and ability to make things happen.  Before I begin, I want to make clear that this is not the case of one group of people being better than another.  It is also not a relative scale or spectrum; the conditions for each group are explicit, discrete, and absolute, based solely on whether the person has or does not have the ability to direct not only his own fate but that of others.  There is no in between.  Lastly, it is important to understand that these are mindsets, not people.  It has nothing to do with social status, quality of character, or things like open-mindedness, political leaning, etc.  For sake of discussion, we will assume everyone is well-intentioned, honest, and overall good people.  This topic can be easily misconstrued as judgmental or arrogant,...[More]
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