Summer 2012

Things that happened in Summer 2012

The Queen of Versailles

"The Queen of Versailles" is a riches to rags (well... super duper riches to mere super riches?) story of David Siegel, who made his money (hundreds of millions, I think) off of the biggest timeshare company in the world, and his family. Versailles is their attempt to make the biggest house in America. Due to decreased liquidity in the market after the financial crash, he started having financial troubles (still leaving him easily in the 1%).

The Campaign

"The Campaign" is about a fictional congress campaign. The incumbent is Cam, a stereotypical, corrupt politician. He sleeps around, exchanges political favors for campaign donations, and often changes his message. The challenger is Marty, a modest, honest guy. He wasn't planning on running, but the Koch Brothers want to change laws so that they can make a sweatshop in America, so they encourage Marty to run so that they can buy him off.

Counterfactual and a Half

I don't like counterfactuals.

A counterfactual question is one that asks what would be happen if something that was false were true. What if the moon were made of cheese? What if Hitler never dropped out of art school? What if you had to give up either chocolate or cheese?

My Book Ratings

In case anyone was wondering what my numerical book ratings mean:
5: If this book has flaws, I'm not sure what they are. It is well written such that it is an engaging page turner, and reading it has given me insight into the human condition. I don't give out many 5 star reviews. Read these books.

My Social Screen

In the context of socially responsible investing, a social screen is a set of criteria that an investor evaluates companies against. If a company doesn't meet those criteria, they don't get investment.

I haven't found a fund that meets my ethical criteria, so I'll probably make my own investments. Thus, I need to figure out what my social screen is.

Boomerang for Gmail

I am an email power user. I would probably lose an hour every day if I couldn't use Gmail (and use it from my phone and use keyboard shortcuts and otherwise use it to its fullest extent). I am a paying customer of Gmail -- I use 18GB of storage right now. This is because I archive my emails (I don't delete them) and because I want to be able to search any of my emails from all time, so I can't just make a new account and exploit Google's free storage.

China Miéville - Perdido Street Station

Normally, the primary issue that I have with books is that they are well written but not interesting. "Perdido Street Station," on the other hand, was very interesting, but the writing got in the way of the story.

How to Determine What the World Needs

Someone on Quora asked the question "What is best way to determine what the world needs?" in response to a question about why Silicon Valley often seems to focus on irrelevant trivia. The following is my answer:

Sarah Kay - If I should have a daughter

Sarah Kay is an amazing spoken word artist. She begins with a beautiful poem (and also ends with one). In the middle, she has a description of her own reaction to spoken word, the importance of it, and how she teaches it. I highly recommend watching it (at least the poem at the start).

Joshua Unruh - Downfall: Saga of the Myth Reaver

I had never read a Viking-noir saga before "Downfall," but I think I like it.

The book features Finn Styrrsson, a Viking with the strength of thirty men [sic] in each hand who travels the world slaying monsters with the hope of a glorious death that will see him to Valhalla.


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