Lion of the Blogosphere

What’s going on with Manhattan residential real estate?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbes-global-properties/2021/07/29/inside-manhattans-co-op-market-where-prices-are-rising-amid-easing-covid-restrictions/

The article above says that prices in Manhattan are going up? What happened to the narrative that people are LEAVING Manhattan because they can work from home?

Well I don’t know for sure, but I have some theories.

Theory #1: Prices for real estate are going up everywhere and not just in Manhattan. There’s just a massive wave of asset inflation happening because of super-loose monetary policy from the Fed and massive inflationary government spending.

Theory #2: There are people who can now work from home, yet they don’t want to move out of Manhattan. Instead, they want to move into a larger co-op/condo/apartment in Manhattan. This pressure for more space is causing an increase in the price per square foot for all sizes of residential until.

Theory #3: Yes, NYC is in a death spiral, but hardly anyone has fully grokked it yet. Right now could very well be the peak of Manhattan residential real estate prices, and it will only go down from this point forward.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 29, 2021 at 11:37 AM

Posted in New York City

Red Planet by Robert Heinlein

Warning: I suppose this contains some minor spoilers.

Over the past few years I’ve been re-reading Robert Heinlein books that I read a long time ago when I was a kid. (Although I’ve certainly been taking my time. It has been four and a half years since I started this project, and I still haven’t read Rocket Ship Galileo, Space Cadet or The Rolling Stones. When I was a kid I could have read all these books in the course of one or two weeks.)

I believe that this book is one of the first Heinlein books that I ever read, but also one that I only read once and never again. Until now.

I recalled that it’s a book about a boy and his pet Martian, and was expecting to find out that the Martian pet was really something else, and indeed that was the case.

But I totally didn’t remember any of the book’s political stuff. This is really two stories in one. The first half of the book is an adventure story about Jim and his friend Frank trying to make their way home from a boarding school run by an evil headmaster (shades of the Harry Potter book when Dumbledore was cast out and an evil headmaster took over) while chased by Martian cops.

And then the book segues into a story about a revolution on Mars, with the right to bear arms playing an important role. It’s very classically Heinlein, and you can see the precursor to Heinlein’s more famous adult book, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. This is not Heinlein’s only juvenile about colonies revolting from Earth, there is also Between Planets.

The Martians described in this book seem to be the same Martians from Stranger in a Strange Land. These are the only two Heinlein books, that I am aware of, that share this depiction of Martians.

Those looking to be offended will find some things in this book that they could call “misogynist.” I previously wrote that Heinlein novels tell us that girls can do anything boys can do, but what they really want to do is have babies. But in this book written in 1949, one of his very earliest novels, he hadn’t even reached that stage in his writing evolution. The women in this book don’t do much besides raise children and cook.

I rate this book as being better than Between Planets if you want to read a juvenile about a revolution, and I recommend it for big fans of Stranger in a Strange Land who want to learn more about the Martians. Although I wonder if Stranger in a Strange Land actually has any big fans because I found it to be Heinlein’s must overrated novel.

But nevertheless, this isn’t Heinlein’s best juvenile. I still recommend Citizen of the Galaxy, Tunnel in the Sky, and Starman Jones, as his best.


For serious Heinlein fans, an essay about how the edition originally published in 1949 (which is what I just read) was altered from what Heinlein intended: https://www.heinleinsociety.org/2003/10/red-planet-blue-pencil/

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 2, 2021 at 9:25 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

What I think The Father is about

This is all spoilers, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the movie.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

April 21, 2021 at 1:42 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Self-driving cars and remote work

At first glance, it’s easy to think that they have nothing to do with each other. Self-driving cars are touted as a more convenient way to commute to work, but if people are working from home then it doesn’t matter if one’s car is self-driving or human-operated.

But in fact, what remote work and self-driving have in common is that they are both vehicles (excuse the pun) for enabling people to live more effectively in suburbs, exurbs, or even rural areas, and will combine to make big cities more obsolete.

People (almost always liberals) who advocate for public transportation claim that one of its benefits is that you can do your own thing while someone else does the driving for you. But with self-driving cars, you get the same benefit of someone else (or rather something else) doing the driving, but with the convenience of door-to-door service. Anyone who has any experience with public transportation knows that it takes at least a half hour to get anywhere by the time you walk to the transit stop, wait for the public transit to arrive, and then have to walk to your actual destination. And it’s a huge hassle on top of that.

Self-driving cars plus remote work means that no one ever needs to live in a city again.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

April 19, 2021 at 11:04 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Lion was dead-on right about predicted Covid-19 deaths

On August 24, I wrote:

We keep getting worse and worse at social distancing, we are sending kids back to school, a new wave of cases before we get a vaccine seems kind of inevitable. I predict between 400,000 and 800,000 U.S. deaths from Covid-19 before the pandemic is ended with a vaccine.

We have now passed 400,000 officially tallied deaths (although excess deaths are higher than that so one can argue that the real number of deaths from Covid-19 is higher), so my prediction is proven true.

Let’s review some comments I received to that post in August.

“jg” wrote:

Thank you for sticking to a quite high 400k+ US additional death prediction, which I expect will fail.

Sorry, I was right, you were wrong.

“destructure” wrote

Why do you have to be so negative? Do you suffer depression or something?

So it’s mental illness to accurately predict the future? The world needs more mentally ill people.

“Seingalt” wrote:

Lion i think you completely lost the plot. Have you noticed that in countries such as Italy the virus is killing almost no one and the intensive care units are empty?

As I pointed out back then, Italy was benefitting from stricter enforced social distancing than we were in the United States.

Also, there were a lot of comments about Cuomo. Trump supporters HATE Cuomo because Cuomo was extremely good at communicating about the pandemic and thus was widely lauded, while Trump sucked at everything to do about the pandemic. I’ll repeat what I said before:

Trump supporters think Covid-19 is a lot of bullshit. Except for when Cuomo required nursing homes to take back medically stable Covid-19 patients. In that one, and only one, scenario, Covid-19 is a Very Serious Disease.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 21, 2021 at 12:13 PM

400,000 in U.S. dead from Covid-19, just as I predicted

Back in August, I wrote:

[T]he cost of a bozo in the White House is 170,000 dead from the virus, and America’s international reputation shattered. The hypocrisy of Trump supporters who railed on and on about how you shouldn’t vote for Hillary because four Americans died in Benghazi, but the same Trump supporters are totally unconcerned about 170,000 dead from the virus. And with Trump at the helm, 170,000 is likely to become 400,000 before he leaves office.

Today, the day before Inauguration Day, 400,000 deaths.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 19, 2021 at 8:47 PM

Posted in Politics

Was I racially profiled?

Once, in my parents’ neighborhood in Staten Island, I was walking down the sidewalk when a Chinese woman comes out of a crappy townhouse and starts accusing me of taking something from her lawn or something.

Instead of having a big chip on my shoulder about being racially profiled because I was white and she was Chinese, I instead tried to explain to her that I was just walking down the sidewalk and I didn’t see anything and I didn’t know what she was talking about. But she was not convinced, and I walked away because I had no idea what she was talking about.

It occurs to me that, if I had been black and the woman had been white, and I acted more hostile to her with a big chip on my shoulder about being racially profiled, and I took a video of the incident with my phone, it could have become a viral thing on Twitter with everyone hating on the woman.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 30, 2020 at 9:25 AM

Posted in Technology

Grandmaster plays chess hustler in Washington Square Park

The highlight of the game is when the chess hustler, losing to the grandmaster, attempts to cheat by using sleight of hand to remove his opponent’s knight from the board, but grandmaster Maurice Ashley doesn’t let him get away with it.

Maurice Ashely’s family moved from Jamaica (the island nation) to a ghetto neighborhood in Brooklyn (Brownsville) when he was 12, and he went to Brooklyn Tech high school (which requires an admissions test to get into, but you needed a much lower score than you needed to get into Stuyvesant).

At Stuyvesant, several of the black kids were avid chess players. I had no hope playing against them.

* * *

Why aren’t there more black grandmasters? My theory is that, with affirmative action, a black with the mental discipline needed to play chess can get a much more profitable career doing something else.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 11, 2020 at 11:48 AM

Girl power and chess

Here’s an article about a Chinese girl in Toronto who plays chess. And a pretty good chess player, the top-ranked female in the entire nation of Canada. I could certainly never play at that level (even though it’s probably a level that’s quite a bit below the top-ranked male chess player in Canada).

Like many of these articles, the spin is, how great it is that women are finally getting into chess because of the popularity of that Netflix series. But no one ever asks why that’s a good thing, why it matters. It’s not as if there’s any money in playing chess. Does being a good chess player help you find a job outside of chess? I don’t think so. Is it just a bias that things that men do are inherently better than the things that women do? And it’s always better for women to be more like men? (Although I have to admit that I hold the opinion that playing chess is a better use of time than going shopping.)

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 11, 2020 at 10:22 AM

Will chess become popular with women?

An article in today’s NY Times says that “‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Is Inspiring Women to Take Up Chess.”

The actress Beth Behrs has a new obsession — chess — and the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” is to blame. Her obsession even got her into trouble on the set of the CBS show “The Neighborhood,” where she plays Gemma Johnson.

“They yelled at me at work yesterday because I was hiding my phone under my script,” she said. “I should have been acting and I was playing on Chess.com.”

As typical for this type of “reporting,” the journalist who wrote the article found a few people to prove the articles point of view, and then headily announces that it’s a new trend.

Now fact-based reporting, not found in this article, does tell us that chess as increased in popularity many times normal since the release of the Netflix series, and statistics from websites like Chess.com tell us that a higher percentage of the new signups are women than is typical for the chess site, but still despite the Netflix series being about a female chess player, a very solid majority of the newly-interested chess players are male.

According to an article at Salon.com, chess streamer Antonio Radić says “Normally my viewership is 98% male, 2% female. Right now, as we’re experiencing this boom, it’s now up to 3.6% female, so nearly doubled.”

According to Google Trends, searches for “chess” have approximately tripled since The Queen’s Gambit game out. Google doesn’t break down by men vs women, but it does tell us that chess is most popular in Vermont and least popular in Mississippi.

I do believe that women are heavily influenced by trends, so if it’s perceived that chess is the new trend for women, then more women will try it, at least for a while. But ultimately, I think that despite the new promotion of girl chess players, chess is something that the vast majority of people with two X chromosomes will find BORING.

* * *

Can women even play as well as men? Obviously a top female chess player like Judit Polgar can beat the vast majority of men, but it’s unknown if the average woman lacks raw ability to play the game compared to the average man, or if they just don’t play as well because only men can get so interested in playing and winning at chess that they devote a huge amount of time and mental resources into getting better at it.

* * *

Chess can be profitable for an attractive young women because it’s much more exciting for viewers to watch such an attractive young woman stream chess online than to watch a man with the same playing ability.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 10, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Posted in Nerdy stuff

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