Friday, October 24, 2014

New Hampshire and Tiebout Model

(in case the embed fails: )

I used this video to introduce the Tiebout model during a discussion of economic regulation. (It's the idea that states compete to provide an optimal set of policies and citizens vote with their feet by moving to places that provide the best set of services.)

Stoicism and Buddhism

This is not a new revelation, but I have always been fascinated about the similarities between Buddhism and Stoicism, and the fact that the two would co-evolve. I have been trying to read more about Stoicism to understand its impact on Western thought, and I came across this passage in a letter from Seneca to someone named Lucilius (letter V in Letters from a Stoic) which I thought illustrates the similarities quite well:
Limiting one's desires actually helps to cure one of fear. 'Cease to hope,' he* says, 'and you will cease to fear.' 'But how,' you will ask, 'can things as diverse as these be linked?' Well, the fact is, Lucilius, that they are bound up with one another, unconnected as they may seem. Widely different though they are, the two of them march in unison, like a prisoner and the escort he is handcuffed to. Fear keeps pace with hope. Nor does their so moving together surprise me; both belong to a mind in suspense, to a mind in a state of anxiety through looking into the future. Fear keeps pace with hope. Nor does their so moving together surprise me; both belong to a mind in suspense, to a mind in a state of anxiety looking into the future. Both are mainly due to our projecting our thoughts far ahead of us instead of adapting ourselves to the present. Thus it is that foresight, the greatest blessing humanity has been given, is transformed into a curse. Wild animals run from the dangers they actually see, and once they have escaped them worry no more. We however are tormented alike by what is past and what is to come. A number of blessings do us harm, for memory brings back the agony of fear while foresight brings it prematurely. No one confines his happiness to the present.
(*the "he" is apparently a reference to an author named Hecato; bold is mine)

I like the idea of ceasing to fear, but I have no idea how to limit my desires. Much of the richness of life comes from hope. A life without hope seems like it would be colorless.

More to think about.


The Vedas say, “All intelligences awake with the morning.” Poetry and art, and the fairest and most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour. All poets and heroes, like Memnon, are the children of Aurora, and emit their music at sunrise. To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. 
                               Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Woke up this morning 20 minutes before the alarm went off and knew there was no point in going back to sleep.

Found myself pleased to be awake for some reason, even though I know I'm going to be tired later because I slept terribly.

Poem for the day, as a result.

I've been sneaking in some reading of Thoreau's mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

morning reading

He has such rich rhetoric. Not sure how much rigor there is there, but there is plenty of feeling.

It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
                             Emerson, Self-Reliance
The morning seems to be a good time to go back to beginnings, the way the sun rises yet again. It's a new day, but it is day again, as it always has been since the beginning of time.

The light is always identical in its composition, but it falls on a great variety of objects, and by so falling is first revealed to us, not in its own form, for it is formless, but in theirs; in like manner, thought only appears in the objects it classifies.
                               Emerson, The Transcendentalist 
I haven't spent much time with Emerson in the past. I've read some of his essays, but it was truly Thoreau who spoke to me decades ago, and set me on the path, in some ways, that I have always been pursuing. So I thought it would be good to go back and read Emerson because of his influence on Thoreau, the way I went back and read Gershom Carmichael when I was reading Adam Smith. Sometimes we have to go back to understand where we are. Morning seems a good time to do this.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

shrimp in coconut sauce

Finding paleo-friendly foods is a challenge, especially since I eat so much grain and grain products.

But tonight I founds something I enjoyed - a recipe for shrimp in coconut sauce.

Paleo Diet - Day 21

The recipe was on the back of a can of Goya coconut milk I've had in the pantry for ages. It's funny what is considered paleo acceptable - coconut milk is on the list.

I modified the recipe to make it more of a stew because I knew I wouldn't be eating it over rice, as recommended.

First I chopped and fried a plantain. When that was cooked, I set it aside and fried a chopped onion until it was translucent. I added some chopped peppers and garlic and let the peppers soften. Then I added about 10 oz of diced tomatoes and about 10 oz of tomato puree.

Paleo Diet - Day 21

The recipe called for Goya sazon, which apparently just means Goya seasoning. I looked on the internet for how to substitute for Goya sazon and came up with a mix of paprika, cumin, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and oregano. So that's what I added.

I cooked all of that together on medium-low for about 20 minutes to take the edge off the tomatoes, then added the whole 16 oz can of coconut milk. I let that simmer and thicken a bit, then added the shrimp (which were already cooked, so I just needed them to warm), as well as the plantains I had set aside.

Paleo Diet - Day 21

So that was shrimp in coconut sauce. Paleo friendly, and really tasty. This dish has clearly been my paleo high light so far.

I am still feeling limited and frustrated most days with this diet, but it is finally sinking in just how much grain and grain products I actually eat. I have been eating a lot more fruit on this diet, which is clearly a positive change that I would like to sustain post-diet. I am looking forward to reducing my meat intake back to a more normal level.

Kandie asked me what my first non-paleo meal will be. I said a doughnut. But that's not really serious. I would like some fresh bread. I think then I will make a pizza for lunch.

This diet has been hard in a very different way from the others. We'll see what I take away from it.

Total Outlays - US Government - 2014

The above chart is from a recently released report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). I think these numbers are interesting because they lay out, in a factual manner, how the federal government actually spends the bulk of our tax dollars.

I think if you want to know what a person really values, you just need to look where they spend their time and their money.

I've heard it said that the federal government is an insurance company with guns. Based on this chart, I'm not sure that is very far off.

You can read the whole report here:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Paleo Diet - Day 19

Paleo Diet - day 19

Still sticking to this paleo/Whole30 thing - trying to come up with different concoctions. I baked a banana and a sweet potato today...

Paleo Diet - day 19

and mashed them together.

Paleo Diet - day 19

The banana added some sweetness to the sweet potato, which was nice. Sweet potato is already pretty sweet, but I usually have some butter and brown sugar on it when I bake it. Adding the banana was a bit of an improvement to having it by itself.

not the paleo diet

And meanwhile, this is what the kids had this morning for breakfast.

Eleven more days. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014


I can't think of a better way to start the morning than having the time to sit out on the deck with my coffee and listen to the birds and think for a few minutes.