All posts by Sam Dinkin

Are You Better Off?

Year US Life Expectancy at Birth
1905 47.8
1975 72.5
2005 77.9

Five and a half years extra life expectancy after 30 years. Not bad. An extra 30 after 100 years. Nice. I guess the combination of stress, pollution, moral decrepitude, corroded job protections, declining medical care and all the other crises of the day are actually coincident with increased lifespan. Don’t be optimistic about it; it’s not fashionable.

Solution of High-Priced Milk

Milk prices hit $3.84/gallon in September which was about a buck more than gasoline. My solution: put ice in milk glasses, then add 15% ethanol to the milk to be required by law. The solution’s also known as (White) Russian.

— Update 12/21, 9:00 PM CST —

Ethanol should be mandated for 15% of the rocket fuel used in US rockets. That might get ADM to stump for more launches.

Reclaiming the First Amendment

Ron Paul’s supporters and a former Federal Election Commissioner are turning the operation of political speech inside out by turning individual donors into political organizations and the delivery vehicle (pun intended) into a for-profit universal-access media company. Bravo! Or as On the Media puts it:

…a campaign reform loophole as big as the Ron Paul blimp.

Expect ever tighter epicycles from the FEC to try to hold back the Internet and the innovative business processes that low transactions costs make available via personal computers and the Internet. They will nullify all limitations on free speech.

Moses of Space Exodus Entrepreneur of the Year

Inc. names Elon Musk Entrepreneur of the Year (via

The goal of putting people on Mars is no joke. Musk believes that over the four-and-a-half-billion-year history of planet Earth, a dozen or so events have truly mattered. Edging forward in his chair, he ticks off a few: “There was the advent of single-celled life, multicelled life, the development of plants, then animals,” he says. “On this time scale, I’d put the extension of life to another planet slightly above the transition from life in the oceans to life on land.”

Or in Biblical terms, Genesis, then Exodus. As Moses says, “Let my people go”. Musk is putting his growing fortune and celebrity on the line to make space settlement happen. Musk’s history of the world sounds like the preamble to Rand’s Passover-style celebration of when we first left the planet, Evoloterra. Rand, ever thought of expanding Evoloterra into a full religion?

Gotcha Cancellation Policy

I recently canceled my account with Vonage and on behalf of Space Shot canceled our contract with Custom Weather upon switching to AccuWeather which is free. It took about fifteen minutes to navigate all of the extra offers that Vonage wanted to make me to try to retain me. It may be good short-term business, but I felt their hard-sell tactics alienate me. I draw the line if an organization asks me “are you sure?” after I have already said I don’t want something, I complain to their customer service for being rude. They may be retaining a few extra customers, but I’ll remember how long it took to cancel the service and be less likely to buy again given the “exit tax”. These last few customers seem sub prime.

Space Shot also canceled its contract with Custom Weather. What do you think this term in my contract with them says?

…this Agreement will continue for further successive one year periods until it is terminated by either party giving to the other not less than 90 days written notice prior to the end of the initial one year period or on any subsequent anniversary of the Effective Date…

I think it means Space Shot can cancel with no notice on its second and subsequent anniversary with no notice. Space Shot also requested early termination of the current year contract which is in no way prohibited and a refund which is also consistent with policy as reported in the contract. Not acknowledged.

Custom Weather CEO, Geoff Flint wrote me:

I apologize if our lawyers did not make that clause clear enough since the “or” that you refer to is associated with the last verb which was “giving” in the clause “giving to the other not less than 90 days written notice.”

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