Monday, October 11, 2010

Gay marriage.

I am always irritated by the debate about gay marriage. I think that the government shouldn't be involved with marriage at all, so as far as I'm concerned it's a moot point. If some people, gay or straight, want to say that they're married, then go for it. As for tax breaks, I think everyone should have to pay the same amount of tax with no reductions for children, so that (in my opinion) is also inconsequential.
I don't know much about this so there's a good chance I missed some important aspects of it. Anyone who disagrees with me, go ahead and let me know what those are.

Work that doesn't require college

I really don't like college (or school), and want to just get a job instead. I'm not sure where to go, since I don't want to work a minimum wage job with no room for improvement. I want something that uses some of my abilities (math, science, writing, and potential for computer ability). Don't know how to find that at all. Does anyone have suggestions for jobs like that? 
I don't really care how much I make right now as long as it can eventually improve pretty well. So a job that only pays min wage now, as long as it gets a lot better, would be fine with me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This probably won't be revolutionary, but it's really interesting. 

If it were to be revolutionary, I would be very pleased.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

College costs

I've been thinking about the ridiculous price of a college education in the U.S., and why it's so high.

Here's what you're paying for:
Other students' scholarships (ha)
College funded social events.
The only ones of these that I want to have or pay for are teachers, admins, staff, and facilities. I'm not interested in funding sports teams, social events, or other people's college. If I want to get involved in sports, I'll form a club team or go watch a pro team. If I want to go to social events, I'll host them myself or do them with friends. If I want to pay for other people's college, I'll directly fund a scholarship.

The stuff I actually want to pay for is still more than I want. That is, the administration of the college I attend is very inefficient. A lot of money is wasted, some through pure carelessness, some through overpaid employees. The president earns roughly five times as much as the average faculty member, plus benefits.

Buildings are nicer than they need to be. The college I attend recently spent millions of dollars on a new student union which performs almost exactly the same functions as the old student union, and is only substantially different in its architecture and quality.

The staff at the college I attend works inefficiently. One department is estimated to spend around three times as much money on student labor as is necessary. Shift managers and supervisors often tell workers to just go take a break on the clock if there isn't any work ready. Other employers tell workers to work slowly so that work lasts as long as possible. Inefficiency is extremely common.

The teachers are paid the market rate, so I can't say they are overpaid. However, they are often bad at teaching, which I would say qualifies their salaries as wastes of money in some cases.

I don't have access to most of the financial information about the college I attend, but I would estimate that if it was run efficiently and only spent money on minimal things (that is, no student union or a minimal one, et cetera) it would cost less than half as much as it does now. Only around $10,000,000 per year goes to faculty salaries. The rest of the $26,000,000 of tuition that comes in each year is spent on other functions, most of them peripheral.

Many students, I'm sure, think that it is worth it to spend over half of their tuition to cover things other than their learning. I would rather not spend my money that way.

Solutions for this could include more minimal, education focused colleges, and also online education, which is already growing very fast. I expect that the situation will be better in the next twenty or so years, but regret that it will be after I have already wasted tens of thousands of dollars on services and facilities that I don't want.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

overpriced college board plan

So, I am forced to buy a meal plan. It lets me eat at a cafeteria. The food is lower quality than fast food. Guess how much I pay for each meal?


Even if I only eat some salad. What the fuck.

Outside restaurants and other food providers are not allowed on the college campus because of a contract with the cafeteria company.

There's a large building dedicated to the cafeteria.

What I think they should do, instead, is open up the cafeteria space to private bidders who run restaurants. There is room for about 8 fast food size restaurants there already. The competition would drive prices to a decent level, and there would be much more variety. A food court would be superior in every way to the current cafeteria.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Halo Reach

Though I'm not a huge gamer in general, about 30% of my waking time since Reach came out has been spent playing it.

Major changes:

Firstly, loadouts are available in multiplayer. You can now choose to play with one of five special powerups that you can activate every once in a while: Sprint, jet pack, armor lock, active camo/radar jammer, and hologram. The only one I really like using (or playing against) is Sprint; however, quite a few people like the others.

The battle rifle is now the DMR, and has longer range and an expanding reticle-if you fire too fast you lose accuracy.

Duals are not duals anymore. My least favorite change.

No more spike grenades. This was because, according to bungie, it was too much of a pain to switch between spike and plasma when they do roughly the same thing.

Health and shields now exist. Shields always regenerate; health only does if you're an elite, but there are healthpacks for spartans.

My favorite addition in Reach? Elite slayer. It includes the ability "evade" which allows you to dodge around 5 meters in whatever direction you want, and a few others, but evade is my favorite by far.

The maps are all very large, sadly. I'd say that there are about three Halo 3 maps smaller than the smallest Reach map. Playing with three or two people is a pain, even on the smallest maps.

Despite the few things I disliked, it's a great game overall, a lot of fun to play, and different enough from Halo 3 that it seems like a whole new game.

You can pick it up here: Halo Reach

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is the government responsible for all financial problems?

So, each president is criticised and applauded for how the economy does during their term, and after it.
Each is also praised for what they've done to fix the country.
Really well written arguments as well. Anyway, all of these people are convinced that some president or the other had a really large role on helping or hurting the economy.

That's wrong. There are so many other factors that make such a claim incorrect. The most basic one is that the president is less powerful than Congress, so they have more power about laws than he does. They arguably also have a comparable amount of power in the executive, simply because the senate approves executive nominations. So, a president will likely do less to affect the economy during his term than his congress.

Secondly, the global market is so large, complex, and powerful that our economy can be hurt or helped dramatically in a short time by conditions completely outside America's and Americans' control. For instance, if China were to have a revolution, we would have severe economic problems since we would lose a source of cheap consumer goods. If somewhere in the middle east has a civil war about their religion or culture, and blows up our oil pipelines, then we suddenly lose a source of transportation and also many consumer goods and much of our electricity. If the euro goes up dramatically, the dollar will be hurt badly (i think). The president can't control these things, and in addition, there are many subtler changes than the ones I described above that can't even be understood very well and that are also outside the president's control.

Thirdly, people (Americans) are very complex. Modern science hasn't done much to improve people's morals or work ethics, in contrast to the immense progress in physical sciences. Whether this is because people are just more complex than other organisms and objects, or because they have souls, free will, or something like that, they can't be understood or manipulated very well. So, if most americans are lazy and incompetent, no amount of government intervention can save the problems that will be caused by their laziness and incompetence. For instance, let's say that everyone manufacturing cars in the U.S wastes 99% of the resources that go into their cars. The auto industry and also most people's daily lives (at least those who rely on cars) would be damaged seriously. The government can't do much to fix that, at least in the short term. A good economy relies on competent, motivated people and there is no effective social science that can create people like that.

Fourthly, the current state of the economy depends on things that happened five, ten and twenty years ago. A recession now doesn't necessarily implicate the current president in whatever happened. If political figures can be blamed for a current recession, we must remember that previous leaders are partly responsible as well.

The economy is very flexible and responds quickly and dynamically to events in America. For instance, the september 11th attacks destabilised the economy badly, and caused a recession. Yet some people blamed Bush for how bad the economy was during his first term.

Of course, we can still talk a little about presidents' affect on the economy. If a president does something that obviously has a specific and observed result, then it's clearly reasonable to say that he caused that result. However, we shouldn't blame presidents for everything that happens in the economy during their term, the way some of the partisan writers above have done.