Archive for April 2012

Latino Atheists Meeting 2012-05-12: New Location

Guadalupe FSMThe next meeting for the Chicago Latino Atheists Meetup is on May 12, 2012. The location will be Warrenville. It will be at the Corner Bakery at 28258 Diehl Road. So if you live out in the Western suburbs and have been wanting to come to a meeting, now is your big chance.

Image from Meetup. Original source unknown.

Mad Money RSS Typo 2012-04-26 and 27

There was a typo on the Mad Money RSS feed entry for the episode for 2012-04-26:

The Dow soared 114 points today. Rest, relax, recharge and roar: Cramer reveals the four R’s that matter most to this market.  Then, CMG blew pst expectations when it reported.  But, it’s lost some heat – can it go from mild to hot again?  Don’t miss Jim’s exclusive with CMG’s big enchilada.  Plus, the pulse of tech with AVT’s CEO and take a ride with TWI.

There was a typo on the Mad Money RSS feed entry for the episode for 2012-04-27:

The Dow closed its best week since the first week of February, ending todays session 24 points higher.  Cramer arms you with a plan of attack before others sell in May and go away.  Then, does CY have the magic touch?  And, is KMB wiping the floor with its peers?  Plus, Cramer pondrs LIFE.



More Thoughts On My Austin Trip

Since I did not drive here, I need to take a cab going back and forth from the motel to the conference. It is about $10/trip. Which is $20/day. I might try walking tomorrow. It’s only about 3 miles. I think with the cab fare it might now be more expensive doing things the way I did them than it would have been to drive.

Another option is to get a local to drop me off at night.


I May Buy More PG Since They Also Left ALEC

I said before that I might buy more KO since they left ALEC. I have not gotten around to it yet.

Now it turns out that PG has also left ALEC. So I might buy more PG as well. They also recently hiked their dividend by 7%.

I am in Austin

I am in Austin for a few days. I took the Amtrak down. I do not really like to fly, and I put off registering for the conference I am attending, so I would have had to pay a lot. I decided to take the Amtrak since I think it might be cheaper than driving, and it would be less wear and tear on my car.

When I calculated the costs, I assumed gas would be $4/gallon. But I saw a few signs along the way, and it is $3.75/gallon at a lot of places. It is possible that driving may be cheaper, especially since I have to stay an extra day since the Amtrak leaves at 9:30 AM. But like I said, less wear and tear on my car is a huge bonus. If I do move, I will need it to run. If it broke down on the way down here or on the way back, I would really be up a creek.

I think the Amtrak came from Texarkana to Dallas a bit south of Interstate 30, and a bit west of Interstate 35 from Fort Worth to Austin. Texas looked a bit greener (especially from Texarkana to Dallas) than when I drove. Which is odd since there were all those fires last years.

There were a LOT of old trains at the Temple station. I took a lot of pictures.


Going To Austin for RailsConf

I will be in Austin for a week for RailsConf. I might not post too much. I might not see too much of Austin. But hopefully I will see some of Austin and meet some people in the technology that I am trying to transition to.

Image from Wikipedia

Latino Atheists Meeting With Juhem Navarro-Rivera

The big Latino Atheists meeting with Juhem Navarro-Rivera (Twitter account) and his wife Yasmin happened this past weekend. There were quite a few people there: most of the usual crew, and a couple of new faces. He also has a site called The LatiNone (Twitter account here).

Another new face was Rachel, another non-Hispanic. She is interested in pushing atheist/skeptical activism forward here in Chicago, and has told me about groups I had not heard of.

One of the big topics of discussion is the religious demographics of Latinos in the USA. The big story is that a lot of Latinos are leaving the Roman Catholic Church and becoming evangelicals. But the other big story is that the number of non-affiliated Latinos is increasing just as quickly. JNR likes the term “Nones” to encompass atheists, agnostics, humanists and just about any other label that people who give themselves if they do not believe in any deity or religion. I think that is a good term, since atheism is not a religion.

He will probably post more about it. He wants us to use the ARIS survey and not the Pew survey  of religious affiliation. He also mentioned that many media reports on Latino religious trends talk about the RCC to evangelical migration, but ignore the growth of Latino Nones. He said that the Nones are the third largest group of Latinos, after the RCC and evangelicals. There are more Latino Nones than all other non-RCC and non-evangelicals combined.

Jose, Martha, Rachel and Mr and Mrs NR talked about the Reason Rally. JNR and Jose talked about what direction the group should take: Should we incorporate, become part of a larger group (like CFI  or Hispanic American Freethinkers). It looks like Hispanic American Freethinkers is a registered non-profit.

JNR talked about politics as well. The Republican Party has been trying to get Latinos into their party on the assumption that Latinos are culturally conservative. But the Tea Party/Talibaptist wing of the party (which is most of it) is driving them out.

JNR said he would like to see an atheist president, but it is not a big deal to him. We decided that Jaime will be our first atheist president, as well as the first Latino president. The next meeting might be out in Aurora at Jaime’s place. His wife will put us on the straight and narrow.

Jaime 2020. Make it happen.

Image from The LatiNone

I May Buy More KO Since They Are Leaving ALEC

I have about 50 shares of Coca-Cola (KO). Recently, KO stopped contributing to ALEC. Bravo KO! So far I have simply bought stocks based on economic fundamentals and their dividend policy. I have not made too many buy or sell decisions based on social or political views. But now I am thinking about buying some more KO because of this anti-authoritarian move by KO.

Are there any pro-atheist dividend paying stocks? That sounds like such a narrow niche there might be an ETF for it.

Thoughts On Leaving Chicago

I have been posting a lot on leaving Chicago. My main potential destination has been Texas.

We are starting to see a better, more robust startup scene here in Chicago, although I feel the startup and Ruby scenes here are still a bit too Groupon-centric. I have always been a bit skeptical about startups. There seems to be a lot of circular reasoning about startups. People at startups tell themselves that they are sooo much better and smarter than bigger companies because they are more flexible and innovative because we are startups which means we are innovative and flexible because we are startups which means we are…….etc, etc. That may be true, but that doesn’t mean their product and/or execution are any good.

The point is that since things are changing, a lot of people think I am crazy for wanting to leave just when things might be starting to get good.

But I think I have hit upon part of the reason.

I went to Moo of I, down in Urbana-Champaign. I have kept in touch with about a dozen people from Moo of I. There are a lot of Moo of I alumni here in Chicago, but the few that I still talk to have all left Illinois. Most are in other states. One is in Jordan. He is Korean, so I am not too clear why he is in Jordan.

Amongst the people that I have gotten to know/became friends with over the past ten years, a lot of them are from other states. A few are from other countries.

So I think part of the reason I want to leave is that sometimes I feel like the whole world is moving, and I am standing still.

I have noticed that people from New York and California seem to have a hard time getting it in their heads that those locations are not on my radar. If you put a New Yorker, a Californian and a Texan in a room together, would they notice?


Let’s Use Technology To Solve Real Problems

I wrote in the past that most of what we see in the technology space is useless, and people that are supposedly so smart are ignoring problems that will have and are having an enormous impact on society (energy, peak oil and climate change).

Perhaps this blog is starting to influence the culture. I saw a couple of articles on Business Insider that spoke to this point.

One is an interview with the COO of the credit card processor Square.
Want to recruit great people in a talent crunch? Solve a real problem. “We have a mission of helping local businesses thrive so that they can grow their businesses so that they can hire people so that they can help the U.S. economy. It’s not social gaming — that’s a very good business, it can be a very creative exercise for the people who work there, but it’s not clear that it has any societal impact, and if it does it may be negative.”

Another article was called “Our Best Entrepreneurs Should Be Solving Real Problems, Not Sitting Around Creating Apps”  by Steve Faktor. The title of the article on the author’s website is “How Killing the Angry Bird Will Save American Entrepreneurship.” I might get his book.  (Warning: His website is not very good. It takes a long time for each page to load. It looks like he has a LOT of widgets and add-ons.)

Faktor mentions solar panels in his article. There is not a whole lot in these articles about energy and climate change, but it is nice to know that I am not the only person who is skeptical about the utility of the social-mobile-game-app-widget nexus. What I do not understand is why all the VCs in the Valley who think they are so smart and think they can see around corners ever supported all this junk. So maybe they made a lot of money. But if we do not handle our energy problems, all these VCs will be kings of nothing.

For a bunch of people with advanced degrees, people in the Valley sound just as provincial as people in poor small towns. Hillbillies with diplomas are still hillbillies. I keep reading articles and seeing videos of all these people saying that entrepreneurs should solve real problems. When will they start funding solutions to real problems?

The big news yesterday in tech was that Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion.  People say that Facebook needed to buy Instagram because the “problem” that Instagram solves is that using Facebook’s iPhone and Android apps you have to go through five or six screens to upload photos from your phone. But with Instagram you only need to go through one screen.

If my apartment building does not have electricity, I have a problem.

If my apartment building does not have water, I have a problem.

If the food does not get from the farm to the grocery store four blocks away, I have a problem.

If the CTA shuts down, I have a problem.

If Facebook goes under, I do not have a problem.