Friday, July 30, 2010

My overly simplistic solution for solving unemployment and public health

30 Hour Work Weeks. Everyone works 3/4 time.

Instead of hiring six employees to work 240 hours per week, an employer could hire eight employees to work 240 hours per week. All those extra jobs will put a huge dent in unemployment.

Those eight employees have the equivalent of an extra day off and 30 extra minutes per day to exercise, cook dinner and spend time with family and friends, thereby making our society healthier and happier.


Edit: Forgot to mention that productivity generally rises as hours decrease.

I knew I wasn't the first one to think of this, but here's an article discussing it much more eloquently.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Am I wrong or was this guy a flaming douchebag?

So I was meeting Rachel at a corner in San Francisco the other evening and my phone died mid-conversation just as she was telling me how far away she was and how soon she would get there. This was in Hayes Valley, which is a pretty affluent and low-crime area.

I needed to call Rachel to confirm where she was to see if she needed a ride, so I asked the first person I saw walking on my side of the sidewalk if I could borrow a phone for 30 seconds because I was meeting someone and my phone had died mid-call. He looked to be in about his late 20s, was moderately chubby, dressed somewhat hipsterish, and had a Blackberry in his hand which he had clearly just finished using.

Our friend looked at me for a second and kind of threw back his head and said in what to me was an extremely whiny voice, "MAN.....are you serious?" Basically he implied that I had just asked for a piece of his liver, or definitely one of his kidneys.

Let me preface this by saying that I have let somebody on the street borrow my phone probably a dozen times. I normally have plenty of minutes, but even if I didn't, I consider it a matter of common courtesy to help somebody out when it costs me very little.

So anyway, taken aback because I thought I had made an imminently reasonable request, I simply said, "Well, yeah, but I guess you really don't have to if you don't want to."

He looked at me again, all huffy-puffy, an extremely put-out expression on his face, dropped the phone in his pocket, and said, "No, sorry. I really have to be someplace." Mind you, I was walking in the same direction as him, had my dead phone in my hand, and looked respectable because I had just come from work.

I was walking side-by-side with him for a while and he wouldn't even look in my direction to see the stunned look on my face. After a few seconds, I stopped and said, "Well, thanks. Thanks a lot, buddy. you really helped me out."

He acted like I hadn't said anything and didn't even flinch, so I yelled, "You know what? That was really shitty." Again no response, which served the dual purpose of pissing me off more and assuring me this guy was a giant pussy, so I added a final. "Yeah, that's right! Don't turn around! Thanks a lot for helping your fellow man! Dick!!"

I think it would have been pretty funny if he did turn around and try to fight me because that would have been an epic throwdown, the Ali-Frasier of chubby sissy-hipster slap fights, the pillow fight of the week as it were. But he didn't, so I guess I came out on top (if "coming out on top" means I had a crappy, dead cell phone in my hand and had just lowered myself to name-calling and half-threatening a weakling who was probably scared of my patchy beard and proto-mullet.

At this point, the interaction is merely an amusing anecdote and not really worthy of a blog post, but the next guy I asked who actually did let me borrow his iPhone told me one of the only reasons he let me borrow his phone was that he turned down the last guy who asked him to borrow his phone and the guy straight-up punched him in the face. Granted, he also said the reason he said refused the previous guy was because the guy had come off like an, in his words, asshole* when he asked to borrow it, but it still got me thinking.

What the hell is the big deal with lending someone a phone? Isn't that the most basic of common courtesies? Am I reaching when I say this is further proof that civility in this society is all but completed evaporated?

As usual, I will overreact and use this completely isolated incident to generalize about a whole group of people . What I'm going to take away from this is that the Me Generation has pretty much run amok in San Francisco, turning a charming destination for outlaws and immigrants into a yuppie wasteland.

Yep, I'm convinced. This would never happen in Oakland.


*Which was proof he didn't witness my altercation with the chubby hipster.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A few messages regarding The Riot That Wasn't

Holy shit. "The Riot" was as badly over-hyped as "The Decision."

1. To the protesters: Excellent job. You managed to keep your cool when the media, outside residents, and those who seek violent confrontation did everything in their power to turn the situation as ugly as possible.

2. To the police: Excellent job, which is something I never thought I would say. You said all the right things going into the day and you followed through on your promises. You allowed the passionate residents to say their piece and express their First Amendment rights. When things started to turn ugly when a bunch of the same shit-starters came in from out of town, you immediately responded and kept the city safe without escalating it.

3. To the media and especially KRON: God, you fucking suck. What ended up being less violent and disorderly than a sports championship celebration has been turned by you into the second coming of Rodney King.

You wanted there to be a riot so bad before the day even started. You kept adding fuel to the fire with your questions throughout the day. You started reporting there was a riot even when there wasn't one.

The one exception I saw was Yobie Benjamin, blogger for The Chronicle. He kept his cool and managed to keep everything in perspective. You can read his live blog from last night here.

Epilogue: Yes, there was violence and arrests but try to look at the good side. The cops exercised maximum restraint and 99% of the actual protesters were peaceful. There were maybe a dozen crazies in a group of 1,500 or so. Most arrested did so within principles of passive resistance - quiet yet defiant. Damage was minimal considering what could have been. I sympathize with the victims of vandalism.

If one asks me what I think? The protest was largely peaceful and was a legitimate exercise of the First Amendment. The cops performed very well under very difficult circumstances and the Oakland community was commendable.

No, it was not perfect but it is a picture of America today... divided and imperfect but still able to rise to tomorrow's challenges.

4. To the anarchists or trouble-makers or whoever come in from out of town to try to escalate this situation: Fuck you and your whole ethos. There are people trying to live down here. We're not your pawns in your little suburban angst game. You may want the world to look like a Cormac McCarthy novel but we don't.

5. To the residents and workers of Oakland who freaked the fuck out and started fleeing the city and preparing for World War III: You are stupid, fear mongers and thinly veiled racists. I know you think any time minorities gather en masse that violence, mayhem and white lynching are a foregone conclusion, but your thoughts and actions just contributed to an atmosphere of panic.

As someone far more eloquent than I wrote on twitter:

the dehumanization of oakland's citizens that assumes they will riot is the same dehumanization that leads cops to shoot them in the back.

6. To anyone--including a friend of mine--who endorsed or called for rioting, especially those who don't live in Oakland: What the hell is wrong with you? There are people living and working here. Why would you ever endorse or wish for our city and residents to be harmed?

7. To the family of Oscar Grant: You got jobbed. Should have been 2nd Degree Murder.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The World Cup stole my ability to blog

But since I'm in a feisty mood and there's a certain NBA star who needs to be called out, here are some rants and raves about tonight's impending disaster (replete with lots of dirty words). My apologies to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports* for "borrowing" some of his insights.

A. Lebron really has dropped in my book. For him, this period of free agency has been his defining moment. He, and I think more so than the media, has been playing up the hype leading up to this summer for years. Nobody in the media forced him to don New York hats and make little hints and innuendos. Nobody forced him to have an hour special. Kobe definitely could have handled this situation the same way as Lebron, but he chose to quietly renegotiate a monster deal and go ahead and win a title. I never, ever in a million years thought I would say this, but at this moment, I would actually say I prefer Kobe, who has traditionally been one of my most hated basketball players, to Lebron.

B. Just because Lebron isn't in front of the cameras discussing free agency doesn't mean his publicity team and agent and entourage aren't doing stuff behind the scenes to encourage this feeding frenzy. You can't throw chum in the water and then be surprised when the sharks show up. How many times does it have to be said that none of the other monster free agents refer to themselves as the King and do specials? Lebron controls his camp. Period. You'd have to be crazy to think he hasn't had a hand in this. Getting others to do your bidding while you look innocent is what having power is all about.

Anyway, taking Lebron's silence under the best of circumstances, here are some things he has done that are still shitty.

1. Agreeing to this ridiculous hour-long special. No other star is doing this. As Stan Van Gundy said, it takes 15 seconds to say where you're going, not a produced special.

2. If he does sign with the Cavs, he could have done so long ago and spared us all this agonizing orgy of idiocy. If he doesn't resign, he's having this ridiculous espn love fest to rub it in the face of the city who loves him.

3. He had his camp leak the news of Wade and Bosh to the media, so today would be all about him.

4. Referred on his OWN Web site to this ridiculous TV program as "The Decision." Unless I missed something and he's the reincarnation of Harry fucking Truman about to incinerate a couple major cities, I think he's overestimating and over-hyping this moment.

Trying to hide his ego under a cloak of charity is despicable and insulting to our collective intelligence. The guy is a hundred-millionaire. He could donate the same amount directly to the Boys and Girls Clubs whenever he wanted and not even notice it missing from his enormous pile of gold bars. He could have held a press conference, donated the money ... See Moreand told the Worldwide Leader to go fuck themselves. His personal appearance money is pennies compared to the ad revenue espn will generate and I haven't heard espn say they're giving the money to charity. Instead, he would rather have his ego erotically stroked for 60 minutes by the suits at the MTV of Sports. In an era where it's always about the money even when it's not about the money, this is either about the money or about the ego. Take your pick.