FUN Science time

Did you know science could be fun?  Yes, science.

Fun for everyone!

Archimedes did it.  Einstein did it.  Now we can do it, too.

I’m talking about doing a thought experiment.

In fact, not only a thought experiment, but a thought present for YOU.

Let’s make you rich.  Really really rich.

No, not as rich as Gates, or Buffet.  Richer.

Not as rich as Bezos or Zuckerberg.  Richer.

Not even as rich as the entire USA.  Richer.

This is a thought experiment.  We can go where it’s impossible to go.  We can go to the very extremes of possibilities.

YOU

OWN

EVERYTHING.

As of this moment, there is no income, no particle of wealth, absolutely nothing of value that you don’t own.  The queen’s jewels?  Yours.  The queens toilet and toilet paper?  Yours.

That donkey raised from a pup by that Himalayan monk no one has seen for several decades?

Yours.

The question for us behavioral scientists is this.  What happens next?

If economists were any good at what they did, they could answer this.  But they can’t.

In reality, you’re going to spread the wealth.  After all, you’re going to want to eat.  You might even want a companion.  All of that costs something.

People who have “your stuff” might feel that you are far enough away that they don’t have to pay you for it.  That Himalayan monk?  Chances are you’re never going to meet him.  Good luck getting that donkey back.

Of course, the incentive for anyone else to work will be diminished.  But they have to eat as well, so there’s a chance that a shadow economy will emerge, based on bartering and some other items considered valuable.  Your items of course, but how will you know?

Slowly, surely, your own wealth will be spread around, so that some kind of work will begin again.  But how quickly?

The problem is that you also own everyone’s assets.  So even if someone works in a restaurant to feed you and others, you will receive the profits.  Which means, ultimately, you get even richer.

Enough fun.  How about comparing our experiment to today?

Today’s world does have a Gates, Buffet, Bezos and Zuckerberg.  These people do have incredible levels of wealth and income compared to select individuals of the past.

How does this impact the rest of society?  Is it a good thing?

There are those who tell me that rich people are good for the rest of us.  But in the beginning there were no “rich” people.  What does that mean?

It means we need to think about this, more, better, and deeper.  And it means we need to do more thought experiments.

Careful though.  They can be too much fun!

 

Business Lessons

There are many things you need to have your own successful business.

Yes, but avoid potholes.

Money is a good start.

You also need enthusiasm, your own and that of your friends and relatives.

You’ll need optimism, and perseverance for when things get tough.

 

I’ve been blessed in that my family had all these things, and more.  I’m going to touch upon little things here and there that you’ll also need to think about, that aren’t normally covered.  In our case, many of these things were mistakes.

We can learn a lot from the mistakes of others, but for some reason, most business people don’t like to admit them.  They think it makes them look weak.

Since I’m more of a teacher than a business person, I don’t mind.  Here’s the mistake.

Remote working locations.

Not remote as in someone telecommuting from their home.  No, this remote has to do with how our offices were set up, or not set up as the case may be.

As a young growing manufacturing company, we occupied rental units.  Each rental unit was about 1000 square feet (about 100 square meters).  Each rental unit had a front door, a back door, a bathroom, a garage door in back, and some office space in front.

Our little business grew, and we started in one rental unit.  The next year we needed two units.  Over the next few years we needed four units, and a few years after that we had five unit.s

Here’s the problem.  Only a few people could work in the office space of the first unit.  As we hired more people we had to put them in offices in some of the other units.

It’s taken me twenty years to figure this out, but the further away people were from everyone else, the more likely it was for them to “go rogue” and do something harmful to the company.  It was also more likely that they would goof off and try to get away with being lazy.  We put lots of other measures in place to catch them, but the fundamental truth was this.

We were spread too thin.  Many people like being secluded, closing their door, and doing what they want to do at the expense of the company, their coworkers, and the customers.

So, next company I start, everyone works in the same space, whether they like it or not.

Everyone watches everyone else, because we are all in this together, whether they like it or not.

I hope this helps you, too, you budding entrepreneur.

Good luck.

 

Killing Assumptions: Billionaires Create Jobs

A friend wants me to read his favorite book, part of a series that has to do with “Killing” the character of both people and countries.  This one is entitled Killing England.

I’m not looking forward to reading it, because the supposed writer (probably a true background writer) isn’t known for rigor.  I’ll review it here, soon enough.  But it got me to thinking.  We should focus on killing other things besides someone’s character.

For instance, we should reveal “economics” for what it truly is, economombo.  Mumbo jumbo.  Statements and constructs that are invalid, irrelevant, and counter-productive to society and science.

Let’s start with something very simple.  It’s a statement I’ve heard many times, even repeated by my Aunt as a fundamental truth.  And she’s as far from being an academic as you can imagine.  Here it is:

Billionaires create jobs.

Her logic follows this path.  A billionaire buys a business or industry.  The value goes up.  Everyone gets richer.  Therefore all the employees and shareholders are better off.  Profits go up.  So there’s more investment, and this creates new businesses, new industries, and therefore … MORE JOBS.

First off, why would my aunt say something like this to begin with?  I may have observed that some billionaire was trying to consolidate an industry (there are many examples, here’s one), and she retorted with her statement, essentially justifying why government shouldn’t stand in the way.

Of course, she’s forgetting why anti-trust laws were put into place way back when.  She’s also very enamored of wealth in general, even though she doesn’t personally benefit.  But let’s focus on her stated assumption.

First of all, the “value” of a company is usually given in terms of the market value.  In theory, the people trading stocks do so perfectly, only looking at the long term profitability of the company.  In reality, there are a lot of people trying to make money on stocks, willing to sell them if they need the money.  So the stock market value is a good measure of people’s willingness to bet on something.

Secondly, just because the value goes up doesn’t mean there are more jobs.  In fact, one of the reasons a company’s stock price goes up is because they eliminated jobs.  This is particularly easy when you consolidate an industry.  If you buy four companies, each of which has a president, an accounting department, R&D, and a factory floor, how can you save money?  Eliminate 3 presidents, 3 accounting departments, all four R&D departments, and think about consolidating those 4 factories into less space.

Third, what about that billionaire’s willingness to take on new investment?  Certainly that creates jobs.  Except for one small thing.  Billionaires are famously averse to risk.  They like betting their billions on sure things.  That’s why they buy companies, and don’t invest in R&D.  That’s one of the reasons they stay billionaires.

Next time you meet an economist, see what she says.  And have fun.

 

Shivanomics

The time has come, as it must for all things weak and unproductive.

The old tree becomes dry, hollow, and falls to the ground, fertilizing the next generation of flowers.

Taking out the old, bringing in the new.

The old man leaves his home feet first, enabling a young couple to move in.

Who is at the bottom of all this change?

The pantheon of Hinduism has a great character for this, the god Shiva…

the destroyer.

For you must destroy in order to create anew.  Get rid of the old, bring in the young.

The time has come for that to happen to one of the oldest behavioral studies we have:

Economics.

Economists have failed us in so many ways that it’s difficult to describe.  In simplest form, consider these damning accusations:

  1. No economic model has any predictive value.
  2. After so many years and dollars of investment, there is yet to be a single (actual) statement that can be considered a LAW of economics.  Not one.

It’s best if we leave this simple.  And here’s the simple solution.

Shiva.

Yes, the destroyer must come and eliminate all things economic.  All tenured positions, all funded chairs, all areas of grant funding.

Shiva must visit the Nobel committee and get them to rescind the award, saving it for something more meaningful.

Shiva must erase every professional in government, banking, and finance house that carries the title of economist.  Shiva must come with her large eraser and make every journalist, every commentator, and every column that refers to economics go away.

That is what must happen for the situation to improve.  For now we spend so much time, energy, and money asking experts for their insights, and they have none.  For this they are never punished.

And for that, we must plead to Shiva.

It’s time to study Shivanomics.

 

 

George Gold Nugget Carlin

It doesn’t get better than this.

A true artist and political commentator.  As the author of this general post says, it should be repeated as much as possible.  As usual, all copyrights and other marks belong to their rightful owners, an interesting ironic note considering the content.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. George Carlin.

========== APPLAUSE =============

But there’s a reason. There’s a reason. There’s a reason for this, there’s a reason education SUCKS, and it’s the same reason it will never, ever,  EVER be fixed.

It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you’ve got.

Because the owners, the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now, the BIG owners! The Wealthy… the REAL owners! The big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions.

Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice! You have OWNERS! They OWN YOU. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying,  lobbying, to get what they want.  Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want:

They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. Thats against their interests.

Thats right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. They don’t want that!

You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shitty jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fucking place! It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it!  You, and I, are not in the big club.

By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care! Good honest hard-working people; white collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means, continue to elect these rich cock suckers who don’t give a fuck about you….they don’t give a fuck about you… they don’t give a FUCK about you.

They don’t care about you at all… at all… AT ALL.  And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth.

It’s called the American Dream,because you have to be asleep to believe it.

 

FUN Science, Art Gallery Time Machine

Did you know science could be fun?  Yes, science.

Seems a bit spotty, doesn't it?

Archimedes did it.  Einstein did it.  Now it’s our turn.  Lets do a thought experiment.

In this experiment, we’re going to transport one of the best paintings from the impressionist era back a hundred years (give or take) so that it lands smack dab in the middle of one of the best art galleries of the romantic era.

 

See what we’re doing there?  We’re sticking a little bit of the future into the past, and then figuring out what would happen.

What do YOU think will happen?  Go ahead, write down your answer.  I’ll wait.

(Insert girl from Ipanema here.)

Finished?  Great.  Now, here’s my take.

It won’t sell.  No one’s going to buy it.  Everyone will think a deranged teenager did it, and will tell the dealer to throw it away.  Since it appeared mysteriously from the future, he won’t know who to give it to.  Being a profit-minded guy, he’ll probably paint it over with gesso and sell the canvas to some poor artist who will put a proper painting over it.

Crazy?  Not really.  Consider going to an art gallery today.  What do you see?  Are there crazy pieces in there that drive you bonkers?  Could it be that one of those will sell for millions of dollars in a hundred years?

How can we know?

Right now, we can’t.  There’s this whole thing about fads and fashions that seems to be beyond anything reason will fathom, ever.  Why do women prefer certain hairstyles through the ages.  What about men and their beards, or hats?  What about architecture, writing styles, music, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Until the day comes when we can at least start to describe a fashion and do it in an organized, scientific manner, there will be no hope of understanding, let alone predicting.

Until the day comes when we have a theory of behavior that contains fads and fashions within it, then even with the best descriptions in the world, we still aren’t going to make any progress.

Until then, hang onto that ridiculous object of art your Aunt Sally got you from that yard sale.  It could be worth something.  Someday.

 

Non-Urban Design

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There’s this kind-of discipline that exists at the intersection of architecture, geography, economics, politics, and civil engineering.  I know almost nothing about it, so that qualifies me to sound off.

This discipline is another aspect of behavior.  The better their theories about behavior in general, and specifically regarding living conditions, the better their work.

So here’s a fun project for our unsung planners.  Consider this scenario.  You have a planet, much like Earth, and a good distribution of resources.  Nothing is infinite, but let’s not go too crazy.  Speaking of crazy, let’s limit the area to 100,000 square kilometers.

What’s the smallest city-size you can make for a city-state containing 10 million people?

What’s a city?  Let’s say it’s a concentration of people more than 1,000 per square kilometer, OR the same area containing two or more buildings taller than three stories.

Yes, my conditions are a bit arbitrary, but it’s a start.  With today’s technologies, why do we even need cities?  Let the planners chew on this.  And who knows?  They might come up with some pretty cool ideas that we can use to eventually get rid of cities entirely.

Now THAT’S planning.

 

Jeweler Screws

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As a student of behavior, it’s great to make sweeping generalizations inspiring others.

On the other hand, it’s impossible to ignore details that muddy up one’s life.

This is one of those diddly details.  I’m trying to make the best of it, and use it as a lesson for staying on track and being a good STUDENT of behavior, instead of a VICTIM.

For our 25th anniversary, and for Valentines, and for her 50th birthday, and for recognizing neutron stars, I wanted to do something very special for my wife in solid gold.  That’s total gold.  24 carat.  No extra ingredients.

Jewelers don’t like pure gold because it’s very soft.  But I wanted pure gold in a very special shape.  Not only because it was a special occasion with special math involved (halves and all that), but also because physicists and chemists had figured out where gold comes from.

Colliding neutron stars.  Cool, huh?  So all the gold on Earth started out as space dust spewed out from a couple of neutron stars that couldn’t keep their hands off each other.

Now, four years ago when I did this, it was only a partial theory than generally accepted physics, because there was no evidence.  Then, only last year, we got evidence.  Three huge telescopes that are set up to measure gravity waves recorded the collision of two neutron stars.  Bang.  Gold!  And a whole lot of other heavy elements.

Back to me and the jeweler.  I asked them to make this.  They were local, they were nice, and they did it.  Cost a lot.  My bride was very happy.  She always is.  Heck I could have made it out of steel and she would have been just as happy.

Fast forward four years.  The jeweler has moved.  My wife is taking out the jewelry, and guess what?  It’s tarnished.  What?  She tries to remove the tarnish, and it doesn’t come off.

Gold doesn’t tarnish.  I’m feeling, angry, anguished, cheated, vengeful, disappointed, angry again, depressed, and trapped.  Angry with them, angry with myself.  How could I have allowed this to happen?

I’ll go to another jeweler and get it checked.  I’ll go to a lawyer and see what my options are.  But my guess is that the money is gone, along with my friendly jeweler.

What’s the lesson?  I’ll let you help me figure it out.  The bigger point is that I can’t let it get to me.  My wife is still happy, she always will be.  The money is still gone, and it’s unlikely to come back.

At least this life’s lesson, this life event, can live on the internets so that others may be able to learn from it before it happens to them.

Learning.  That’s what being a student is all about.  I just wish it didn’t have to be so darn expensive.

Or painful.

 

Business Behavior Lessons

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This is something I’ve wanted to do for some time.  It’s also something that I’ve been dreading to do for some time.

So is business. Learn while you can.

I’m sure many of you know what that feels like.

The time has come, however.

I’ve been a committed student of behavior since I turned 17.  It was one of those fooling youthful purpose things filled with idealism and belief in the future.

What a dork!

Not being smart enough to jump on the internet bubble, I’ve stuck to my ideals.  That’s why I’m still doing this today.

One of the very first choices I had to make was which discipline was the most advanced.  Psychology Science sounded good, but was less than a hundred years old.  Remember, I was 17 at the time, and that was over 40 years ago!

Religion has been around for thousands of years, but it’s not exactly very rigorous.  Economics was possible, but their track record was poor, even back then.  I wanted a discipline that had to know what it was doing, or it would fail.

That discipline turned out to be business.

Yes, business as a discipline for learning about behavior is a good start.  But there are some problems.

For one thing, it’s not very rigorous.  You only have to be “sufficiently” accurate in business to beat the competition.  There’s no real incentive to record your learning beyond one generation, because there is no respect for communal knowledge.

And the whole idea about sharing information with others?  Forget it.  Everything becomes competitive secrets.  So when you do develop a tool or model that beats the other guys, the last thing you do is share it.  You use it to make lots of money, eat up their market share, and then sell out for a massive profit after your IPO becomes part of your exit strategy.

That’s why I studied business, and then a lot of other disciplines.  No one discipline of study was the best, each had its benefits.

That said, I went into business.  I learned some things.  And one thing I learned is that business people are bad at sharing.  That’s why business schools make money.

Well, here’s a series of posts that are going to be all about an important business lesson that I’ve learned.  It has to deal with using commissioned salespeople in the state of Michigan.  Our company lost a lawsuit, and it’s going to cost us about a quarter million before it’s all over.

One of the many things that hurts is that this is a booby-trap that the state created, ready to be sprung on unsuspecting manufacturers by disgruntled salesmen.  Everything is biased towards the “little guy” against the big guy manufacturer.

But the law overlooks ethics.  It assumes everyone knows the law ahead of time.  And it assumes that decency and politeness count for absolutely nothing.

That’s the law.  It’s how it works.  This is my attempt at helping someone else out there who may be using “reps” (short for manufacturer’s representatives) in the state of Michigan.  If you’re interested in this specifically, follow this thread.

If you’re into business, or law, or ethics, you may also be interested.  I’m going to break this up into as many “fun” little bits that I can so it’s not too boring.

For the rest of you, please bear with me.  It’s one of those things I have to do, even though I dread it.