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About Datepalm

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    Barbarism and Decadence, Fuck Yeah.
  • Birthday 02/22/1987

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  1. Blech. Anyone remember my weird episode* with the threesome invite from like two years ago? I was telling this story to a friend who I got to know pretty recently, and in the verve of the telling, found myself quoting the - rather uncommon - name of the wife in the story. I tried to change it mid-stream to something more common, but stumbled just enough that the friend was on it in an instant, and, of course, given that there are exactly 14 people in this country, knew them both well - or had once. She then proceeded to fill me in on the sexual harassment allegations that had seen the dude kicked out of a couple of organizations I knew. Blech. I remember the whole thing as oddball but really rather harmless, even kind of out-of-comfort-zone fun. Now it retroactively seems much more sinister and unpleasant. In other news, PhD will apparently be taking me to UCLA or possibly Berkeley. Am I simultaneously weirdly disappointed and keenly aware that - precisely due to said disappointment - this is absolutely for the best, in terms of putting a solid continental plate between me and Mad Economist Guy over on the East Coast? Nah. Not at all. AT ALL.* I'm sure I'll encounter no weirdness in LA on this account whatsoever. At all. *I know. I know. Which weird episode, Datepalm?
  2. Yay!
  3. Hunter-gathering is fucking boring and farms got you a leisure class and time to figure out alphabets, leading in short order to books about melancholy dragons. Also, shifts in climate or exhaustion of livestock meant a need for more efficient food production. Seriously, I'm distrustful of the romanticization of pre-agriculture. It's popular (Guns, Germs and Steel, now Yuval Noah Harari, etc, etc) but too clearly a sentiment of our time and not particularly convincing.
  4. Does it have to be either/or - although it sounds like maybe you're in the right place for a big plunge - could you try an online class and see if it's a good fit, or dial back to part time work? Alternatively, would it be interesting for you to take the kind of experience you're gaining presently and apply it to something less office-y? Like looking work in an NGO/Charity of some kind - counseling, outreach, community/youth work, or even fundraising or logistics for this kind of organization, sounds like it might be a next step from what you're doing (at a guess - I assume you're not qualified to take on professional social work, but at least here there's a big zone of community work/NGO positions which doesn't usually call for a social work degree. Admittedly it often doesn't pay great either.)
  5. Hm, anther cool possibility. It felt more like awesomely bad flirting though. My credit card is already cancelled, there was no official ID lost, and nothing he asked was at all...focused, just awkward attempts to make conversation. I spent like five minutes trying to explain what an urban planner does.
  6. I lost my wallet yesterday, and today someone contacted the university to say they had found my student card (and only that, and in a different city somehow. The rest of the wallet is apparently gone. Not a big deal, except I was kind of fond of the wallet itself). I called the guy and found him to be way too interested in my life and way too desperately happy to chat, including asking what I study, what that is, whether I like it, where I live, how old I am, etc, etc. It took forever to hang up, and he called again a couple hours later (I missed it and haven't called back. And a different unknown number called me in the evening.) I am either in the opening scenes of a romantic comedy, or of a serial killer thriller. Who am I kidding? It's a serial killer. He can keep my student card.
  7. This one is clearly on me. It's 23:02 after two weeks of 12 hour, 6-day workweeks, and the first PhD application of the season is due in about 7 hours. The only chance I had to get a last, but important bit of feedback about specifically writing for American institutions, from a colleague who was out of the country, was yesterday evening. Naturally this is the time I decided to have a fight with my semi-drunk mom. She's right. If I knew what I was doing, it wouldn't matter if she was clattering dishes at 23:02. Well, I already knew she thought I'm not so smart (less smart than her. If it was her she'd be done already, is the point) and my various PhD plans - whatever those are, she thought I was stressed out because had to submit that paper -'you know, that big paper, about the thing, that you couldn't finish' - (MA thesis, I think? Done a month ago, and a month early at that) - pretentious and silly. But hey, nothing like hearing it spelled out loud when the one bit you have left to do is fix the 'insufficiently enthusiastic' and un-American vibe your writing (apparently) still somehow carries. There are only so many times I can write 'extremely excited' in a one-page document, y'all. The alliteration alone is killing me.
  8. Crushes are the worst but dissertations are not an excuse, I'm afraid.
  9. The way most places do it is via a mixed method where private operators vie for set public contracts - like most infrastructure. So the public authority sets the routing, capacity, level of service, price point to the consumer, etc it wants (some flexibility on this, obviously, as well as a variety of financial arrangements - is there a subsidy? who gets the fares? What level of protection against competition is there?) and then the market can do its thing and see who is able to provide this at the best cost to the public purse. A more widely discredited approach is of competition at the 'curb' level, basically where different operators try to each get more passengers - generally leading to a lot of inefficiency through to total catastrophe. What appears to be happening here is somehow the worst of both worlds - you have de-regulated free curbside competition (which seems to be in the early honeymoon phase of increased services before it hits the drop as monopolies emerge and marginal services are gutted, which is why I can find a 5 dollar fare, but, based on past evidence, won't be able to in ten years) AND inefficient un-competitive publicly operated/subsidized monopolies. Dunno what to tell you.
  10. All sorts. Off the top of my head, a lot might be fully public, though private operators run services on public owned track. (Or both.I seem to recall Germany is messing around with allowing multiple operators to run on single routes, which is unusual and historically has led to bad results and reduced services down the line with buses (where market entry is easier) at least, but maybe they know what they're doing. Found it!
  11. Exactly - it should be good! I know this is backwards logic these days - if something is used by many people with high frequency, clearly, we can just allow it to be crap. It's generally easier to make a service there's a lot of demand for efficient and cost-effective, but it certainly requires more forethought, coherent policy and investment than, I dunno, letting Uber/low-regulation busses do whatever they want and crossing ones fingers. Doesn't mean its not worth complaining about, and I still found myself vastly annoyed at trying to navigate it this morning, as I'm used to far more centralized and efficient systems (and god knows there's plenty to complain about in transport here, but I'm actually bathed in a warm glow of gratitude and tolerance towards my intercity services at the moment.) (I'm also all but certain that the distances and demand levels of the Bos-Wash corridor are optimized, from purely quantitative point of view, by high-speed rail, but at the rate things are going, that's something on a 50-100 year timeline, I think.)
  12. I think my outrage of this morning wasn't so much at prices - connecting through New York with megabus and greyhound, Boston-DC is doable for 15 dollars. Even I won't claim that this is unreasonable. It's the jump-through-hoops quality of it all. If you find this sale on that site from this operator and get it on this day (and that sale from that site on that day...) and are willing to make that connection and wait this bunch of time, ok, great. Or maybe one or more of this doesn't work for you, or you're just not willing to twist your life around the time of a bus, well, its fine if you can afford it. Yay, capitalism. I find it deeply annoying to shop for what I see as a basic service - local metropolitan travel - the way I shop for flights, for some reason.
  13. to Loge...took me a while to write the post, I got distracted looking for accessible demand forecasting for the NE corridor... No, really? Wow, I never thought of it that way! I mean, I started the thread just to vent a little at what I saw as an unreasonably complicated inefficient service I was startled by, and, seriously, see if anyone has any tips since this is an un-straightforward system and I figured local knowledge might be beneficial. I did not necessarily forseee that the assumption that this is indeed unreasonably inefficient would need much justifying, given that Boston and DC form the two ends of the so called "Northeast Megalopolis", which holds about 50 million people, almost 20 percent of the US GDP, and no national borders, currency changes, separate regulatory environments or other barriers to the movement of goods, capital and persons. The population density is three times that of, say, Belgium. Or Japan. In other words, it does just fine for meeting travel demand requirements for transit. We're talking inter-city, metropolitan heavy rail/high-capacity bus here, not a poor local bus that's bumbling tragically through the badlands of the suburban cul-de-sac landscape. It's a policy choice to favour car users (to an extent, as these are not, by and large, car-distances) and more broadly just not give a fuck about a crucial public service and make almost everyone's lives fractionally more miserable. (For example, in relevant baby steps, issuing competitive tenders including minimum service quality regulations and set fares for intercity services.) ETA - Jan 6th doesn't seem to be exceptionally bad, actually. The 49 price seems to just be the Amtrack base, and buses are all over the place (from one 5 dollar megabus sale to 50). ETA 2 - Flixbus is a kind of "Uber of buses" - it has contracts with smaller operators that it kind of franchises (centralized ticketing, colors, some quality standards) and doesn't own its own buses. And it definitely uses dynamic pricing and things like 1 Euro promotions, ala Ryanair (as well as probably practicing 'route swamping', where it will agressively underprice a route to capture passengers and drive competitors out.) I don't know if Megabus in the US is using the same model, or what level of regulation its under.
  14. FWIW, its 15.1 USD from Beer Sheva to Haifa for a regular ticket, (the bus would be about 9 dollars) which is about 120 miles, (and close to the longest train trip you could actually take in Israel.) Yes, incomes here are a bit lower than in the US or (north) Western Europe, but it's firmly an OECD country and cost of living on most indicators is as high. More than the cost as such, this is a set price, regardless of whether I order it months in advance or buy it at the station five minutes before it leaves, regardless of time of day, level of demand for the train, etc. For me the application of dynamic pricing to buses and trains (the way flight prices work, which is definitely what intercity bus services in the US do, and what I think the train is doing also, aside from the faster/slower component) is just, well, kinda wrong and unfair. I don't know, I may be from an odd tiny country where it just hasn't occurred to anyone, but I apparently take my ability to walk up to a train station and buy a ticket for the very next train at a single, known-in-advance price (as I would for a city bus, say) inappropriately for granted. ETA: Merc Chef's comment on the NY-DC section of the trip made take a second look at the train (thank you!) and, hey, there's a Black Friday sale on! (While useful, I also find this somewhere between hilarious and insulting. A sale? For a train ticket? (also, its a confusing sale). But what next, 2 for 1 for school vaccinations? Coupons for pensions savings? Oh. Wait.)
  15. OK, I wasn't aiming to start a fight...To get specific, the prices for the date I'm looking at (January 6th) range between 49 and 202 dollars for the train from Boston to New York. (it was 120 for the hour I wanted, but I could wait about 3 hours I suppose. It would mean potentially missing other things at the other end, but OK. This is hypothetical since I'll probably take the bus anyway.) 49 USD is more reasonable, though I also think is far too high a price point for both the strict service provided and for the social-economic optimum, but whatever. Ini - What I don't entirely get, is why you're voiciferously defending this? Do you really think dynamically priced, 5-6 odd hours for 150 miles, 49 USD if you're lucky, is a reasonable level of mobility for one of the wealthiest metropolises in the world? (You could take the bus, but that offers the same issues - at times the prices are as high, and, with all my love for them, it is usually a qualitatively inferior service.) I mean, does my expectation (rather in a spirit of mock-outrage) of transit that is reasonably priced, and more over fully useful and predictable to the passenger (see above - I could take the 49 train, but it is absolutely a lesser service for my needs than the 120 one) really seem like an outrageous thing?