Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No Left Middle Finger

wow, seriously, it is a lot of fun typing without my middle finger. maybe this is the slippery slope to typing with only two fingers. i'm going to try to type for as long as i can. here i go. hoooray, whooo, i was slipping around today while i was driving, and then i was running out of gas, and then i started freaking out and looking for a gas station. i really can't tell how much gas it takes to drive if i'm running the heater and stuff. i do not really know where the gas stations are around here, although i am starting to get better at knowing where the parking lots are. i am getting raped at this parking lot right now since i couldn't park on the street since it's a snow emergency. then i went to starbucks today and got a coffee and some food with some free money jia gave me. hooray for jia. she gave me it for my graduation present. i have $4 left. and then i used the internet in starbucks, and it was free. that was nice, but it was butt slow, so i guess who cares. then i ran home because i did not wear warm shoes and my feet were cold. i don't drink coffee much, so i felt kind of sick after that. i emailed a lot of people today. i have started to make cards, but i have sort of lost momentum, and i still need to figure out where to send them, and the holidays are almost over already! i am seriously behind. the traffic getting home on mem drive was butt slow. and i was running out of gas. that's why i was freaking out. at least i parked in an indoor parking lot. i hate dusting off all the snow. i think i need a warmer jacket. my coworker at work had me try on his goosedown jacket. he says that it's the best, and that i should go to first night, boston. i said, no way, it is freaking cold. he said, not if you have a goosedown jacket. he said that where he grew up, the black people loved goose down jackets, and they also liked to steal the mercedez-benz hood ornament, cuz he had a mercedez car, and then they would wear it around their necks as bling. damn, i did not know how to spell mercedes. on npr, they were talking about some israelis who were like, we will not stop bombing them until we bomb them all, and i'm like, man, i thought we were against genocide. i don't think any of them really believe any of the palestinians are really "just civilians." although i think they are all civilians, even the "militants." i mean, i don't really believe you are a "professional military" unless you are hired by a state. but i guess everyone is in the military for the same reason. they are all civilians with nothing better to do. i like singing along to songs on the radio when i am driving. the other day i was singing along to 'i will never be your woman' by whitetown. today i was singing along to no doubt, 'don't speak.' i even like britney spears' new song 'womanizer.' i went to the mit library yesterday to borrow a book by pretending to be shen, but then i couldn't find the book. i was also nervous that they would realize i am not the person on the id. i can't really tell if we look alike or not. that was weirding me out. i was looking at the snow falling and thinking about how in pictures, they always make it look very pretty, like white snow falling against a blue sky or something, or white snow against the dark of night. but what it really looks like is just a storm. white snow against white sky. it doesn't really look good until after the storm is over. on npr today they were talking about how the legal system in 19 states is running out of money and they are postponing many civil and criminal cases, for example rape cases. the saddest part is that for a lot of cases, the preparations were already done, and so if they postpone it, then it was all for a waste since everyone will have to testify again when they reschedule the trial. definitely at least some people will just drop the charges because people will want to move on with their lives. also, if it drags on for too long, the case could be dismissed since the criminal justice system is supposed to try defendants in a timely manner or something like that. on friday, in massachusetts, one oz. of marijuana is only going to be punishable by a $100 fine. wow. but people in the government are trying to get local governments to pass things. on npr the other day, they said that homicides committed by black males have increased over the past 7 years. they said that homicides by white guys also increased but only a little bit. but then they said total homicides decreased a little bit, so i'm confused. but maybe i'm getting it all wrong. police people said it's because they are getting less funding and crime-prevention programs are getting less funding in general. less funding less funding less funding. why does this not come up when it comes to be election time? on npr, they were talking about a town where ducks walk on fishes, and people love it so usually they throw sliced bread to the ducks and fishes so that they fight over it, and it's really cute. in more recent years, people have been throwing more and more crap, though, like cakes and other breadlike things, and so the parks people said, no more bread, but then everyone complained because they said that's stupid, they always threw bread, the fish look pretty healthy, they're taking all the fun out of life, and that their local businesses are going to be hurt since it's a tourist attraction. i think the last point is the most reasonable. but it still seems like, duh, guys, you are throwing too much crap in the water. so the parks people had to take it back, and reconsider it for a year. it annoys me, though. i think that the parks people did a bad job of the execution, but the people really strike me as shortsighted and spoiled brats. i mean, what the hell? do they really NEED to throw bread to the fishes? people had been bringing garbage bags full of crap to throw to the fishes. what the hell do they expect to happen? that reminds me of the students at ec because they complain that the administration doesn't want them to have kitchens. they would prefer if kids would just eat at dining halls. they kids think the man just wants to get them down, which is sort of true, but anyway, they think that if they invited the admins to dinner on hall, that they would see how great it is. but you know what? the kitchens are totally gross. there is always stuff practically rotting in the sinks. it smells like butthole. if kids are serious about proving to the admins that kitchens are good, then they should keep them clean. admins don't give a shit how you get fed. they don't like paying for the roach and mice exterminators. also, npr was talking about how some coal ash piles from coal generating plants collapsed on some towns. hahahaha. people say, maybe now they will regulate it. yes, this is what it takes. some things have to go wrong first. otherwise, nobody cares. call it stupid or just call it human.


Remember when Arnold was a body builder? Seriously? That does not look real. Can you imagine how much time he invested in making his body like that? Does it make him dumb? Or perhaps it shows he is seriously smart since only someone with some serious mental fortitude would be able to do this.

And now here's Arnold in his current job as Governor of California.

I have started extending invitations to speakers for the MIT sustainability talk, and of course, how can I resist sending one to Arnold.

BTW, seems to be a pretty cool video site.

New Year New Beginnings

Now, I don't really believe in "New Year's Resolutions" since the calendar year is a manmade construct anyway. But in general, I do believe in resolutions and "new beginnings."

So Happy New Year's!

Also, I cut my middle finger on my left hand, so it's actually kind of a fun challenge to type without it. It feels kind of weird.

Also also, I got into my second car accident of my life today, and it was kind of the same thing as the first, although this time it was really bad weather. The first time I was in a rush, and my friend was driving me crazy. Anyway, I kinda rolled into the guy in front of me. We got out of our cars and looked at the damage, but there wasn't really anything, not even a scratch, so he says he's just going to let it go. Hopefully, he will not change his mind and report me. And hopefully it won't happen again. I owe that guy one, although I didn't tell him because then he might be like, yeah you do, gimme some money.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Graduate Programs

I've been looking at graduate programs. Here are some promising leads.


Delft Systems Engineering, Policy, and Management

Business Week MBA rankings

Harvard MPA/International Development

Redefining Progress

I ran into Shauna last night, and apparently she is also organizing a conference on sustainability at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands!

Also, her sister works at Redefining Progress, another Oakland, CA thinktank on sustainability economics and progressive policy.

Passive House

In Germany and some other parts of Europe, they have started building "passive houses," houses which take almost no energy to heat due to careful design in ventilation and insulation. Plus, it does not cost much more to build. However, it is unclear if such houses would work to stay cool as well. Otherwise, it will not be very useful in most of the US, not even Boston. The article also mentions that many things such as the glass for the windows are not available in the US. I wonder if there is some patent barrier on it or something or maybe it's simply not made in the US.

Perhaps these people would be good for our talk.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Don't listen to venture capitalists

...says the venture capitalist...?

This is an interesting article on how to spur innovation in green technologies. The do's and don'ts are a little nuanced, but that's what makes it so good.

Smart for one, dumb for all

Spurred by some links from Economist's View and some conversations with Yang about a highly progressive consumption tax, I have been reading some of economist Robert H. Frank's editorials. The theme seems to be that government, and policy makers in general, have the imperative to eliminate or mitigate "smart for one, dumb for all" incentives.

Some examples of "smart for one, dumb for all" situations: at a stadium, one can get a better view by standing up, but if everyone stands up, then everyone has the same view as before but without their comfy seats. In athletics, one can gain an edge by taking steroids that may have some small probability of health risk, but if everyone takes the steroids, then everyone has the same relative standing but now all have the health risk.

I find the metaphor of an arms race most compelling.

Capitalism is all about competition (relative gains are rewarded). But there is a hidden assumption that improvements in relative value result in improvements in absolute value. In many cases this is true; companies compete to produce a higher quality product, or the same product for a lower price, resulting in value for the society as a whole.

Frank's essays focus on situations where this assumption breaks down.

The relevant recent example is the rise and fall of the housing market in the US. There is growing competition between people to buy more expensive houses. Much of the motivation for this is as a display of social status (that is, consumerism in general). In addition, the best public schools are found in richer neighborhoods, and due to the growing importance of eduction, it's rational for a family to try to live in the most expensive house it can afford.

But what's good for one family is bad for society as a whole. Bidding wars result in home prices way above their value as shelter (this can be measured as the ratio of home prices to rental prices). One difference between the 1950s (the beginning of America's recent prosperity) and the early 2000s is that lending rules became laxer (no/low down payments, for example), which allows home buyers to stretch to the very limit of what they can afford.

There is a symmetric story on the side of the lenders, where competition incentivizes fund managers to make riskier and riskier investments. Due to the lifting of regulations, lenders likewise take this to the limit.

The pattern:

Home BuyersFund Managers/Mortgage Lenders
A gamble with a high probability of small gain and a low probability of significant lossBuying the more expensive house, risking not being able to afford the mortgage.Buying mortgage-backed securities that offer higher rates of return but greater risk.
Exponential (feedback loop) rewards based on slight relative gains ("winner takes all")Better schools which have an exponential effect on future generations' successBetter fund performance which attracts more investors, providing greater opportunities
The illusion of safety in numbersHome prices will keep going up so the house can always be soldEveryone else is buying mortgage backed securities/offering laxer loan terms

A really excellent, very human telling of this story from the perspective of all players can be found in the This American Life episode, The Big Pool of Money.

I have started a separate blog. Will be posting there from now on.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Boston Dance Scene

I'm trying to figure out where to go dancing in Boston. Haven't found much, but I'd like to check out Great Scott and maybe Roxy. Probably also should go to Middlesex and stuff again.

Also, this site has concert listings of electronic music.

Change dot Org

This is a website that has a lot of potential depending on how widespread participation is.

Here, people post ideas for the Obama Administration and you vote on proposals that you like. They say that the top ten ideas will be presented to the new Administration on Inauguration day. Unfortunately, it may just prove that American citizens are idiots since the current top ten are to

1. legalize marijuana (ok...but doesn't seem like it should be the number 1 priority)
2. appoint a secretary of peace (goddamn hippies)
3. legalize gay marriage
4. something about handmade toys (wtf??)
5. sign "Autism Reform Act"
6. legalize milk (??)
7. repeal the patriot act
8. stop puppy mills (ugh)
9. dream act that helps children (born in the us) of illegal immigrants
10. repleal the patriot act (...)


Funny Thing to Read


In the Beginning was the Command Line

Sent to me by Jenny Hu. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Sustainable Architecture

Jenny Hu's cousin is a sustainable architect. Don't know if she's any good, but her group's website is really awesome.

The company is called Levitas.

Friday, December 26, 2008

10 milluyn n unmarkd billz plz


Too much text, not enough pictures. Haven't read anything yet, just browsing images, but some pretty funny stuff. The older ones are better on average, I think.

How to Dance to Techno Music

I'm not sure if I've posted this already before, but whatever. It's funny.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

More Breakthrough

This article by Sunil Paul is really good. He makes solid arguments for why clean tech is fundamentally different from the IT Revolution and development of the biomedical industry. Because of these differences, the development of the industry will depend on financial and policy support from the government.

Cleantech is different. There is no large, well-established industry whose advocacy work we can depend on. The rules change often and vary from region to region. The incumbents in fossil fuel industries don't just own the customers, they have decades of experience in using government to bludgeon their competitors. Every successful energy company -- renewable or not -- relies on government engagement and support to survive and grow. Wind, solar, geothermal, combined heat and power, and energy efficiency are all industries built on the back of government regulation, tax code, or procurement. The point is this: if you want to win the battle to build a massive company in this marketplace you must understand that government sets the landscape that makes it possible.

Breakthrough Blog

Recently, the Breakthrough Blog has had some really good posts.

Some of the points are not very complicated. They are constantly harping on the need for investment, not just raising taxes. In the latest such article, they rag on Friedman and praise Bruce Bartlett, who wrote an op-ed in the NYT and was an economist in the Bush I administration. Actually, I really like it when they parse the things people are saying for me because otherwise I can't tell the difference between what they are saying. While it is good that people in the sustainability and environemental and green tech community feel solidarity, it feels like we are all on a honeymoon. We all get along and we all agree and sort of ignoring where our own differences are since we obviously all have greater differences with everyone else. The problem is that we should be hammering out our differences and making decisions on what courses of action to recommend and how to collectively sell these courses of action to everyone else.

The previous blog post is an article by a guy who believes that boosting R&D will be a waste of money unless there is also a carbon tax.

Post on why excessive focus on Energy Efficiency may set us back if there is not enough focus on Investing in Developing and Deploying New Technolgy.

This post features an article by MIT professor David Skinner on reviving Active Governmental Policy in an Economic Crisis. It's very long, and I don't really know what it's saying.

I really like this post, though, by Ron Hira, a professor at RIT. It is about the importance of creating "sticky" jobs, jobs which stay in the United States. He warns that we should not assume that jobs in innovation and engineering are going to be local.


Running cars on liposuction fat. HA!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

tree tree tree tree

Monday, December 22, 2008

Talking Kitties!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

VC firm

i think i would like to work in one for sustainability tech.

i wonder what happened with this.

DOE has selected Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (Menlo Park, CA) to work with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory; ARCH Venture Partners (Chicago, IL) to work with DOE’s Sandia National Laboratory; and Foundation Capital (Menlo Park, CA) to work with DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Movie

I'm not sure, but I think someone should make a movie where someone is talking and surfing the web. I think it could be a good stream of consciousness depiction. Maybe it would be boring, though.

Monday, December 15, 2008


lilian and I made mixes.

this is my mix.

this is lilian's mix

lilian's mix is named yang because it was for me, and my mix is named lilian

For Jenny Hu

Individual action won't do anything so fuck it.


eh, someone sent this during a finals' spam thread, and I think it's HILARIOUS.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Martin and Lewis

This is a pretty good documentary about Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. In it, they talk about the "rat pack." I had heard of that before, but I never really knew what it was.

Don Rickles

A famous insult comic. Actually he's still alive, and he was on the Daily Show the other night. Really made a living out of insulting celebrities and Jews, Italians, black people, and Polish people. He was a flaming Jew, himself.

No Bailout for Car Companies

The Senate voted down bailing out the car companies. I am kind of glad because I do not care much for helping them out. I just think they're probably so stupid that there's no hope for improvement even if there is a "car czar." Yes, this means we are in for more pain as a society, but hopefully it will also put more pressure on the need for building a green industry and other new projects. Plus, now we will have the labor resources.


It's been storming in Massachusetts, and as I was driving to work, I was noticing how the scenery was really pretty. The trees were all frozen over so they looked like icicles. Some trees had red berries. Then I noticed some traffic lights weren't on at all, and there was a little waterfall flooding the middle of the road. On NPR, they said that many schools were closed because of not having power. And it turns out that my work was also out of power so now I get a day off! Whoooooooooooo

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Steven Chu

I don't know much about him, one of Obama's latest picks for energy and environmental advisors. I know his Wikipedia article, that he's a Nobel-prize winning physicist that directs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is a pretty big deal. Anyway, he's an esteemed scientist. That's the only thing I really care about. Whoooo scientists in policy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Whiny Women

NYT article about how we need to remember to create new jobs in social services and teachers not just contruction and engineering projects so that women will have something to do.

That annoys me. The argument isn't without merit. I do think there should be more teachers (or more importantly, better teachers) and social workers. But the reasoning that they should do this because that's what women do, and we need to have women do something really annoys me. For one, it enforces the idea that these are jobs for women. And I think it's embarrassing. It's like saying, remember we should hire more cooks, cleaners, and babysitters, you know, things that women do.

Now, I understand the argument about how construction is dominated by men, although even then, they use so much machinery, is it REALLY true that women can't do those jobs? You can argue that women don't want those jobs, and I surely don't, but maybe they feel pressured not to do those jobs. Anyway, it really annoys me that the author is trying to say that creating green jobs also mostly is for men. Yes, it's true that most engineers are men, but it's not like green jobs are only for engineers. There should be plenty of work in factories or other light industry jobs. Men really have no advantage over women for these jobs. Most of the factory workers at my company are women. Almost all factory workers in China are women. Do we really need to make every issue about gender?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Interesting Conference

There is a conference on Building Technologies in Boston next March. It looks really impressive.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Season of Radiolab!

A new season of radiolab is up at and the first episode titled "Choice" is basically a collection of all the cool anecdotal stories you would otherwise have had to sit through an entire semester of psychology to get.

Big Govt Small Govt

Obama Pledges Public Works on Vast Scale

On NPR, they've been talking about how, in the effort to "make government smaller," there has been a big increase in hiring contractors to do jobs that used to be government jobs. Military contracts are the obvious ones, but they have started to hire private companies to collect taxes and even manage government programs. Usually, though, there is no way to tell if they're doing a good job, or even how many people they have hired. And they can't get rid of these contractors since they no longer have enough government employees to do the jobs. Furthermore, nobody really wants to hire government employees because they don't want to be seen as proponents of big governments. This is obviously a stupid line of reasoning, but such is the state of things. Maybe Obama is willing to buck this trend, though?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bob Ross Funny Stuff

US Car Companies Suck and are Stupid

I say fuck them. Those idiots. It's not like all of a sudden we all realized their cars suck.

Czars in the US government

It's weird we call them Czars. It's Russian. And it means emperor.