16 February 2019

Long work trips

A friend of mine is plotting a long work trip where they will be hopping from city to city for about a month. They know that I have done work travel like that and asked my advice.

On that kind of long work sojourn, the temptation is to travel Well Prepared because you are going to be On The Road For A While. But I recommend traveling as light as one can. This kind of trip in particular means packing and unpacking a lot, maneuvering through airports, loading in and out of cars. You don't want to bring more than you can carry for a distance ... because at some point you will have to.

I keep my travel kit packed all the time, and bring the same stuff whether on an overnight or hitting the road for a month, whether staying somewhere for a long stretch or roving around. That makes me ready to stay on the road indefinitely, because on a few occasions I have had to extend my trip by a day or three ... or a week ... and I want to always stand ready for that.

One of these days I will have to write about my whole travel kit in detail. For now, an overview relevant to this type of travel, with links to products I recommend.

I have a sub-maximum carry-on for the overhead plus a comfort bag for under the seat in front of me on the plane. I actually own two different carry-on options — a rolling pullman case for work travel and a backpack-able soft case for most personal travel — but I pack the same stuff either way. I have a bunch of recommendations for makers of these.

The comfort bag contains everything I need to have available for my animal needs on a plane or elsewhere, plus my laptop, tablet, and Kindle. I always keep it close enough to grab, and it fits on my lap if necessary. It has my neck pillow, blindfold, dorky mouth-and-nose mask, noise cancelling headphoneswater bottle and electrolytes — convenient-format caffeine, melatonin, drugs, spices, and wipes — a plain white shemagh — and all my cables, batteries, and power converters. With a mini extension cord which turns one plug into two outlets, I can ask someone to let me cut in if they have taken the only available power outlet somewhere. Plus I leave a little room to tuck in some snacks: manage that blood sugar!

The carry-on has my clothes and other stuff that I only unpack on arrival. At this point my entire travel wardrobe is made of technical fabrics or merino wool that hold up to a beating and wash & dry easily. That makes it easier to travel with a small wardrobe with confidence.

(Update: a friend was surprised that I did not mention my enthusiasm for packing cubes. Packing cubes are a godsend. They make it easy to pack tight without your bag exploding when you open it. I usually take the cubes out of the bag and just lay them in the hotel dresser, still packed. I am particularly fond of cubes with a mesh side, compression zippers for squeezing the contents tight, and two-chamber cubes that pack clean and dirty clothes into the same tidy space; it seems that one can find cubes which do any two out of three, but not all three. Eagle Creek make an array of well-constructed options.)

In theory one can do ultralight travel and get it down to One To Wash And One To Wear but that means never ever skipping a day from being too tired or whatever. Better to have a buffer, but not too much because that means traveling with more kit and facing the dangerous temptation to not Always Be Laundering. Handwashing laundry in a hotel room it is hard to do more than two changes at once, so one can easily end up with a dirty laundry deficit that is hard to pay off. I pack four days of clothes and wear one, which gets me through a normal work week. But my kit always contains a clothesline, washbag, and soap. One can just do laundry in a hotel sink but having a Scrubba bag helps a lot. The instructions show a person agitating the bag with their hands but it is a million times easier to set it in the shower and stomp it for a few minutes with your feet.

One travel garment I strongly recommend is a middleweight zipper cardigan that zips all the way open or all the way up into a turtleneck-like arrangement. You can wear that under your jacket and be warm enough in pretty cold weather and it is easy to regulate temperature with the zipper. If real cold weather is a possibility, a light hooded puffer jacket layers nicely and covers a lot of situations while packing small. And whatever the weather I always pack a light rain jacket / windbreaker.

Aside from kit, you have to get your head right. When doing this kind of travel it is very easy to succumb to FOMO. “I have this one chance tonight to see a little of Chicago!” But on the long sojourn, the enemy is Creeping Exhaustion. Your first priority must always be taking every opportunity for rest you can get. It is 100% legit to hide in a hotel room or a host’s guest room. You will see and do more in the long run if you jealously guard your energies.

Getting to sleep in a strange bed, fighting jet lag, can be tough. I knock myself out with a cocktail of Benadryl and sublingual melatonin; melatonin forces the body clock but I find that if I don't fall asleep when it first makes me drowsy I end up with insomnia, so the Benadryl forces me to zonk out enough that the melatonin can take hold.

And never forget the ABC of travel: always be charging.

10 February 2019

Are people equal?

I think the most fundamental political question is: are people equal, or not?

Having looked at what divides liberals from conservatives, that is my shortest summary of my own read on the distinction.

Conservatives think some people deserve more than others and a good society sorts out who deserves what and gives it to them; liberals think all people are equal.

Recently in a bout of insomnia I succumbed to the temptation of a long Twitter exchange with a quasi-libertarian “conservative”. It supported my read of the conservative sensibility, and supported including the “anti-statist” libertarian impulse as conservative.

Consider first this thread starting with a wacky version of the political spectrum which purports to show that communism and fascism are both aspects of the left.

Many historians have no understanding of economics so they lack the understanding of the American economic spectrum

The European spectrum is inaccurate. Equating economic nationalist to a racist ideology is extremely mistaken

Social ideologies and economic platforms are different

Yes, I am aware that you think that your assertions trump historians' and political scientists understanding, and you have the esoteric little-known TRUE political spectrum.

Then tell me what the spectrum measures....

How does an ideology like fascism that likes heavy social programs like universal Healthcare and state control over the free market with heavy intervention Is opposite of Socialism.

Where does anarchy sit?

How do small government...

Libertarians and right wing people fall on that spectrum?

Are they near anarchy or on the opposite side?

Please explain......

I have a whole collection of writings on what distinguishes left from right.

Understanding American Politics: The Two Tribes

My own offering:

Liberal vs Conservative

The ultimate distinction between left and right is: are all people equal? Really? Or are some people more deserving?

The right says that we must sort out what different people deserve. The left says that all people are equal in rights, liberty, and dignity.

Holy fk... No wonder you're views are so strange.

I can't explain to you how far off you are.

If you're open I can try to help you understand how they view the world and even tag some so you can see that I'm not just making it up...


I understand that conservatives do not put their case that way directly.

But how would you summarize conservatism such that conservatives of 2019, 1999, 1969, 1939, and 1909 are all covered?

Conservative and liberal can change meaning.

I prefer using individualist vs collectivist.

You have a very flawed understanding of the other side....

I hope you become humble enough to challenge these views as I know for a fact you're completely wrong.

If you prefer to use the terms “individualist” vs “collectivist” then I encourage you to do so. Would you care to define those terms clearly?

An individualist believes that the three most important minority is the individual.

They believe that each individual's liberty must be protected as each man owns himself. (or herself)

Collectivist believe the individual lives to serve the collective.

They will sacrifice the...

Rights of the individual in order to benefit the collective.

A great example of this would be taking from the rich to give to the poor regardless of the wealthy person worked for their wealth.

If you want to steal their factories then you're a collectivist.

Okay, so an individualist believes that we have no obligations to each other, and that property rights are natural, fundamental, and inviolate.

A collectivist is anyone who will violate those values.

Is that correct?


We don't have obligations to each other except to respect each other's rights.

Thru this system we will flourish as we are all trying to make the best of our lives. Which is why capitalism fosters so much innovation.

When humans become wealthy they care for other humans.

Then this thread:

Unlike you, I do not think that property rights are the same kind of fundamental rights as things like freedom of speech.

The Declaration Of Independence says “among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Property is not on the list.

I DO think that legal protections of property rights can be a VERY useful instrument in securing prosperity, comfort, and dignity. But property rights are an instrument of achieving something more fundamental; they are not fundamental in themselves.

This is very revealing!

If you don't own your property, you don't own your body or your own labor.

You're a communist.

You don't respect the individual and you're 100% ok with slavery.

You're a collectivist and that's scary....

If you cannot distinguish taxation from slavery, then I submit that you are the one who is confused.

You just told me that property rights aren't as important as free speech.

What's the point of having the right to say what you want if you can't defend yourself?

I'm sure you're angry gun if you don't even think people own themselves.

Self ownership means you own your labor...

And you own your own property.

You can't separate these.

If I'm a free person then if I create something then I own it.

If I use your capital and your factory and your raw materials then I don't own the good.

I own my labor which is what I invested and you pay me for it.

Yes, I am familiar with the argument that property rights are direct logical consequence of self-sovereignty.

I do not find them convincing.

Our wealth and productivity are not only a consequence of our labor. They also result from a multitude of common resources: infrastructure and knowledge (much of them inherited from before we were born), the network of people indirectly contributing to what we create.

If I am paid a wage for making a car, what of the web of people who contributed to making that car? The people who mined the ore, the people who designed the engine, the people who maintain the roads which brought the necessary supplies to the factory?

Yes, most of those people were paid in some way. But the pay they received was not some fundamental truth of their value as people. It was contingent on circumstances, systems of power.

If they were worth more than the pay they were earning they should quit.

Could they build a motor if they weren't trained while on the job... Being paid!!?

What risk is involved in that?

They should revolt by not getting a job and learning while taking pay from an owner.

Some people are paid little enough that though they work full-time they can only afford to live in their cars.

Is that all they are worth?

Who's fault is this?

Their job has so much competition because they have very little skills.

If they were the only person that could do the job the wages would be higher.

You also have to consider how much revenue their job creates...

I am not asking you an economic question.

I am asking you a MORAL question.

Is living in a car all those people are worth?

The reason people live in cars is due to their flawed economic system.

For example people in San Francisco live in their cars.

This is because of high rent prices, the high rent prices are due to bad policies like rent control and government intervention in building.

If these terrible left wing policies didn't exist there would be an excess of houses which would lower the price of rent substantially to the point where no one would need to live in their car.

The supply would need to compete for the demand vs the current situation.

I happen to agree with you significantly about housing in the SF Bay Area.

But I asked you a more a fundamental moral question, because you insisted that property rights are a fundamental moral question.

Is living in a car all some people are worth?

Yes. If you live in a free market system and rent is affordable and you simply choose to not work then your value to society is minimal.

Therefore it would be your decisions and abilities that lead to your situation.

No one likes to hear it but it's the truth.

So you believe a homeless person that does not work adds as much value as the person that sorrento their entire life studying to be the best in their field and now works 60+ hours a week?

If you can agree that there's a difference then you understand that not everyone is equal.

You have made my point

The ultimate distinction between left and right is: are all people equal? Really? Or are some people more deserving?

The right says that we must sort out what different people deserve. The left says that all people are equal in rights, liberty, and dignity.

People not being equal is not the same as people not being deserving.

If you're saying that a person that doesn't work vs a person that does is about one person not deserving something... Nothing is deserved, it's earned.

So you're starting from flawed logic.

So everyone has the same rights, dignity, and liberty.

What you do with your life is up to you after that.

If you're saying that a person that doesn't work simply "deserves" money because they breathe the same air as Elon Musk but didn't do half the work or create value for...

Society then that ideology has failed countless times and has lead to people being murdered.

Why would I work in that society? It's children's logic.

This is exactly my point about how we define left vs right.

I, on the left, start from the assumption that everyone deserves a life of comfort and dignity. Everyone. Whether they “create value” or not. Just for breathing.

And you, on the right, have made clear that you do not.

Yes. If you don't work I should not be your slave.