Thursday, June 1, 2023

News: 1 June 2023

I recently finished releasing Waiting for Margot and Reality, as you may know.

I am now offering the older books I've written for sale as print books for $15 each. I like print books and sometimes pay $15 (or more) for new books, so I feel like someone else might feel the same for mine. My books sell better than I expected at the brick-and-mortar store (Verbatim) in San Diego where I sell them. I hope to have a print version of Waiting for Margot available soon.

Today I released some "wordless prayers" on YouTube and (MIDI instrumentals.) Like Reality, I see them as expressing ideas and feelings that follow from my writing.


I deleted my Twitter account finally. (I mostly stopped posting in November.)


I've cleared out all the unreleased material I had intended to release. Now what? One possibility is to work on music. I am ambivalent about music. Writing is something I clearly want to do, but music feels strange to me. I can see how music has its advantages, and I have some talent at music (but with skill deficits). It's certainly a useful side project, to fill in the "right-brained" side of what I'm trying to say. But I don't completely want to do it.

Another possibility is to continue the background work for engaging with non-Christian religions (read about other religions, learn Indonesian). It can seem like I'm impossibly far from being competent in those areas (but I am not expecting to be anytime soon).

A third possibility is to start reviewing this blog (look at every post and make comments and/or corrections). I had been putting this off because I thought it would get me into doing philosophy, which I have decided to avoid until October 2024. I think I can go ahead with it if I simply note when I have a question about my philosophy or see how it should be better, and then not resolve that until later.

One thing I'm more sure I will do with this blog is make posts of links to things that are too long for my subreddit.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Album Release: Reality

I wrote an album of songs in 2020 and 2021 and recorded it earlier this year. Now I am releasing it. It could be seen as a summary of all of my writing so far. It's called Reality.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Future of Simple Life

In episode 15 of Waiting for Margot, there is some discussion of a restaurant in Hoheres Wesen called Simple Life:

YOU: Have you heard of Simple Life?

BRIAN: What's that?

YOU: It's a fast food chain.

BRIAN: I don't normally go to fast food places.

YOU: Their slogan is "Faster than fast food, and healthier, too."

BRIAN: How do they manage that?

YOU: They're mainly a rice and beans place. They constantly make rice and beans and just put them in containers when people drive up.

BRIAN: It's a drive through?

YOU: Yeah. And they have a small sit-down space. They also make greens and other vegetables.

BRIAN: No meat?

YOU: No.

BRIAN: How much do they cost?

YOU: Same price as fast food but bigger portions.

BRIAN: Do they have sauces?

YOU: Yeah, they make salsas and sauces.

BRIAN: And they make money?

YOU: They've been expanding.

BRIAN: Huh, I'll have to check that out.

YOU: Definitely.

BRIAN: It sounds filling.

YOU: Yeah.

BRIAN: Is the sit-down space like a fast food place?

YOU: Yeah, not very inviting.

BRIAN: You've been to one?

YOU: I went once, yeah.

BRIAN: How was the food?

YOU: I got black beans and brown rice. And, some kind of greens, probably collard.

BRIAN: How was it?

YOU: It was just like if you make black beans and rice at home, with collard greens. It's not like restaurant food at all.


YOU: Yeah, it was pretty plain so I put some salsa on it and then it was good. Also vinegar on the collard greens.

BRIAN: We should go there sometime.

YOU: They don't have any locations near our part of town.

JULIA: Maybe we'll remember if we're ever out where they are.

BRIAN: A chain like that probably has a story behind it.

YOU: Yeah, probably. I don't know what the story is, though.

I think I might have had a story in mind when I wrote that episode, in 2019, but I don't remember it anymore.

Here are some recent thoughts on Simple Life, which can be seen as a kind of postscript for Waiting for Margot:

Here is a possible future for the world of Waiting for Margot:

When Beth, Brian, and Julia had that conversation, Simple Life was a small chain of restaurants, but expanding. Over time, Simple Life adopted a policy whereby patrons could tip. This tip would go to the Simple Life Endowment, invested in various funds. Returns on the endowment would go to lower the price of the meals, to make them more affordable, and also to pay the workers higher wages. Patrons who bought 12 or more meals at Simple Life locations in one year would be members entitled to a vote in how the endowment funds were spent. (All employees would get one free meal a month at Simple Life, which could count toward the membership requirements if they chose to eat them.) The endowment funds were once spent to buy an avocado orchard in the region between Hoheres Wesen and Sunset City, the fruits of which were sold for below market price to customers. Another use of endowment funds was to buy a produce farm in the area, the fruits of which were given away to customers when they were in season.

Simple Life cultivated a clientele of working class people and also well-to-do white collar and creative class workers, who built its endowment to quite a size. Using this endowment, Simple Life was able to compete with fast food chains on price while improving quality, and then outcompete them.

The other fast food chains tried different strategies to stay in business. Some of them tried to get money from venture capitalists. For a time, the VC-funded fast food companies could outcompete Simple Life on price. Fast food was so cheap, people didn't feel compelled to eat it as much once they bought it. For instance, CSU Hoheres Wesen fraternity brothers bought mountains of Wendy's and McDonald's hamburgers and staged an invasion of each other's fraternity houses using the hamburgers as ammunition. There were concerns about food waste, and regulators began to be interested in the situation.

But then the VCs got tired of losing money, while the donors to Simple Life did not. So in the end VCs came to believe that investing in fast food to save it from Simple Life wasn't a good idea. Then, the fast food industry started to adopt Simple Life's financial structure, trying to court money from customers to build their own endowments. Sometimes billionaires contributed. CEOs of fast food companies sometimes donated heavily to their own companies' endowments, out of their compensation.

This settled into a more or less stable equilibrium, and then other industries started to use the donor-endowment model. Over time, people started to wonder if this was going to be the end of "capitalism as we know it". Increasingly, businesses were not accountable only to shareholders who were trying to gain a profit, but also to altruistic customers (and outside donors), who were not. People give money away for altruistic reasons, and so, often were interested in their money doing altruistic things within the businesses they helped endow.

Businesses benefited from having endowments during downturns. Businesses that were on the margins of success and failure during downturns could use their endowments to survive. This had several benefits: Entrepreneurs didn't as often have to go bankrupt and "ride the rollercoaster" of working up the courage, capital, and hard thinking to try to succeed in business -- fail -- and then try again. Employees more often had stable employment. Customers more often didn't have their lives disrupted by the businesses they bought from going out of business. Because businesses didn't fail as often, more-mediocre ones survived, but then had the chance to grow toward excellence.

Simple Life's endowment was explicitly for the use of the benefit of its stakeholders (customers and employees), and because those stakeholders had a voice, in theory they could use the money however they wanted and it would at least benefit them from a preference satisfaction perspective. But, it became necessary to set up constitutions for the use of the endowments. And, as one would expect from any large deliberative bodies, the endowment member's meetings were prone to the forces of politics. When the politics got particularly dysfunctional, donors would get fed up and transfer their membership to a competitor.

There were cases of fraud and abuse of the donor-endowment system. There was concern that billionaires could use the system as a proxy for owning businesses, or for whitewashing their money and their legacies. As with previous iterations of capitalism, the donor-endowment system led to regulation. Overall, while the effects of donor-endowment capitalism were noticeable (lower prices, higher wages, higher quality, buffering against economic downturns), it wasn't a revolutionary change after all. The main thing that was different about it was that there was a new altruistic voice at the table deciding how firms operated.

In countries with dysfunctional governments, donor-endowment businesses increasingly took on the role of parallel governments.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Waiting for Margot: Ep. 21 "Farewell"

Here is the twenty-first episode of Waiting for Margot, "Farewell".


A farewell occurs, and then a goodbye.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Waiting for Margot: Ep. 20 "Giving Up, Part 2"

Here is the twentieth episode of Waiting for Margot, "Giving Up, Part 2".


You (Beth) invite your friends to your apartment to eat dinner.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Waiting for Margot: Ep. 19 "Giving Up"

Here is the nineteenth episode of Waiting for Margot, "Giving Up".


Brian feels like giving up on his writing project but you (Beth) push back.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Waiting for Margot: Ep. 18 "Complaint"

Here is the eighteenth episode of Waiting for Margot, "Complaint".


You (Beth) meet a random young stranger at Mitzi's and impart wisdom.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Waiting for Margot: Ep. 17 "Jitters"

Here is the seventeenth episode of Waiting for Margot, "Jitters".


Jitters, nervousness, and weird thoughts afflict the three friends, until someone from Julia's past and present arrives...

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Waiting for Margot: Ep. 16 "Inner Conflict"

Here is the sixteenth episode of Waiting for Margot, "Inner Conflict".


You (Beth) are trying to decide whether to volunteer as a writing tutor for Angela's non-profit.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Waiting for Margot: Ep. 15 "catholic tastes"

Here is the fifteenth episode of Waiting for Margot, "catholic tastes".


You all meet Brian's friends at an establishment in a faraway part of Hoheres Wesen, and experience... transformation?

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Waiting for Margot: Ep. 14 "Alte Stadt"

Here is the fourteenth episode of Waiting for Margot, "Alte Stadt".


You (Beth) go with Brian and Julia to Alte Stadt, the site of the original Hoheres Wesen.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Waiting for Margot: Ep. 13 "Breaking the Devil's Backbone"

Here is the thirteenth episode of Waiting for Margot, "Breaking the Devil's Backbone".


A board game summons a woman from Nashville, who dreams of making a cafe to invite in a "consuming fire".

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Waiting for Margot: Ep. 12 "Patience"

Here is the twelfth episode of Waiting for Margot, "Patience".


Discussions of patience and the playing of a card game named, or misnamed, "patience".