Putting Things into Perspective

By any measure, the roughly $30 billion, and counting, that we’ve spent on Ukraine is real money. But it’s a little more than a third of what President Joe Biden is spending on new IRS enforcement, and about a fifth of unspent funds from federal pandemic relief. It is a fraction of a fraction of the defense budget.


The rest of the article is good, too.

An Illustration

And here’s another illustration of what I’m saying. A middle-aged couple was banned from Airbnb because their adult daughter has un-PC political views. Today it’s parents, tomorrow it will be the neighbors who never talked to her at all:

Wasn’t it better when things were about profit extraction, pure and simple?

Lemmings Kill Capitalism

N found a job opening in his field at a large company in St Louis. Then it turned out that they require COVID vaccination from all applicants. Obviously, he won’t apply because his job consists of sitting at home alone in front of a computer. This requirement isn’t about health. It’s about showing fealty.

The funny thing is that in order to do what he does, you need to have a very high IQ and be capable of extraordinarily high level of complex thinking. You simply can’t be an obedient lemming and do this job. The company in question will wait for a long time for anybody to apply. Our geographic area isn’t rich in this kind of specialist to begin with. N’s current job stood vacant for 7 years because they simply couldn’t find a specialist. And looking for people in other states isn’t easy either. In the places where quants tend to live, salary expectations are in a different galaxy because the cost of living is very different. Neither can the job be outsourced overseas because there is only half a dozen universities in the world which train these particular specialists, and they are all in the US.

These are very rare skills that require constant updating. N takes classes at MIT, Stanford, Princeton, etc all the time. There’s literally not been a single day in a decade when he didn’t sit with textbooks, lectures and instructional videos after work. The vaccine-loyal company is losing an opportunity to hire a unique specialist over something utterly unnecessary. This isn’t capitalism. This is a complete perversion of capitalist thinking where the guiding principle should be, as Kevin O’Leary aptly puts it “to make MMMONNNEY.”

Emotional Banknotes

The Ukrainian student let me hold some Ukrainian money. Unexpectedly, it was a very powerful experience. I haven’t held it in my hands for 25 years. It is really strange to have a deep emotional response to holding money. The only reason why I didn’t start crying or babbling incoherently is because I’m ashamed of showing weakness in front of this very stoic and calm young person.

The thing is, when I left Ukraine, I really left. I completely disengaged myself, never went back. And then all of a sudden, it’s like plunging into a long-ago life that I thought was gone forever.

Multifaceted Personality

Yesterday, I was waiting for my new Ukrainian friend (the exchange student) at the entrance to the building where I work. She’s 19, so I guess I subconsciously felt younger although I didn’t verbalize it to myself. I dropped my backpack on the floor, climbed on a table, and sat there dangling my feet, chewing gum, and furiously texting on my phone.

At that moment, my secretary was coming downstairs on her way home from work. She saw me, and obviously I never comport myself that way at the office. I’m the kind of person who never gets called anything but “Professor” because I don’t invite familiarity. I’m usually kind of intimidating.

“Are you OK?” she asked, looking disturbed. “Do you need help?”

“Yeah, I’m good,” I said, chewing ferociously. “Waiting for a friend.”

“Oooh-kaaaay,” said the secretary staring at me like I was a total basket case and slowly backing away.

Then an Associate Dean came by and also offered help.

I’m starting to think I need to show the different facets of my personality more at work.